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Sean Williams
the a-z of writing 
08.21 am 11.03.09
Ever since Clarion, I've had an A-Z of Writing wafting around the back of my mind.

There are some out there already, but I reckon we can do better.

Below the cut is my rough draft.  What do you think?  I'm open to suggestions!


A is for Audacity and Ambition (doesn't hurt to have a little of both)
B is for Books (so obvious it's blinding)
C is for Crisis, Choice and Consequence (thanks, tallaudrey!)
D is for Dreams (where I get my best ideas)
E is for Effective and Entertaining (stories that are both get away with anything); also for Editing
F is for FINISH
G is for GRAMMAR; also for Goals
H is for HARD WORK (and Haiku!)
I is for Ideas
J is for Just Do It
is for Kudos (not what we do it for, but hell, it doesn't hurt either)
L is for Listen and Learn
M is for Market
N is for Novelty (not always the same thing as Originality)
O is for Originality (not always the same thing as Novelty)
P is for Professional; also for Punctuation ETA and Proofread
Q is for Quality (settling for "good enough" is never good enough)
R is for READ ETA and also for  Revise, then Resubmit, Resubmit, Resubmit, etc) (thanks, punktortoise!)
S is for START ETA and Story and knowing when to Stop (thanks, battblush!)
T is for Talent, Technique and Tenacity (thanks, Kate!); also for the 10.5 Commandments
U is for Ubiquitous (people who say they want to write but never do), Unexceptional (most people's first efforts, including mine) and Utterly Usual (receiving rejections, lots of them); also Utopian (a world in which none of these three things are true)
V is for Verisimilitude
is for WRITE
X is for Xenophon (not the senator; the writer who once said "The sweetest sound of all is praise") (thanks again, tallaudrey!)
Y is that proverbial crooked letter (if you have to ask why you're writing, maybe you shouldn't be writing at all)
Z is for Zeal ("fervour or tireless devotion...and determination in its furtherance; diligent enthusiasm; powerful interest "--you get the picture) and for the Zeroth Commandment (commitment)

Is there anything major I've missed?

ETA See the comments for some excellent suggestions that haven't quite made the list!
10.09 pm 10.03.09 (UTC)
R is also for revising, and resubmitting. And resubmitting. And resubmitting...
10.28 pm 10.03.09 (UTC)
It is indeed! I'll revise the list immediately.

Edited at 2009-03-10 10:28 pm (UTC)
10.33 pm 10.03.09 (UTC)
S for submit?

Many people write, not many submit
10.37 pm 10.03.09 (UTC)
See the edit to "R". Does that cover it?

Edited at 2009-03-10 10:37 pm (UTC)
10.36 pm 10.03.09 (UTC)
P for Proofread

I'm a teacher of senior English, (Sounds like a mexican bandit, Senor English) and you'd be surprised how much word processed stuff comes in that hasn't been proofread and spellchecked.
10.42 pm 10.03.09 (UTC)
(no subject) - Anonymous - Expand
11.25 pm 10.03.09 (UTC)
I think P would be for passion as well -- you can't endure all the time and rejections and hard work if you don't have some passion for writing itself.
11.40 pm 10.03.09 (UTC)
Would that be covered by Zeal?

Otherwise I agree: passion is absolutely critical.
11.38 pm 10.03.09 (UTC)
P is also for Perserverance.
11.41 pm 10.03.09 (UTC)
Would that be covered by Tenacity?

Otherwise I agree: perseverance (like passion) is absolutely critical.
11.41 pm 10.03.09 (UTC)
S is for soul, all writing needs it. I've seen stories edited to the point where they've lost their soul. Know when to STOP (which also begins with S)
S is also for story. The plot must contain an actual story, not just an idea.

C is for commitment. You can't succeed without it.
11.42 pm 10.03.09 (UTC)
Oh, and L is for Love. Love what you do.
11.56 pm 10.03.09 (UTC)
X for Xerxes! According to Herodotus, he was so determined to get across the Hellespont that when his first bridge collapsed, he killed the engineers and whipped and branded the sea for defying his command and then the second bridge worked.

If it doesn't work the first time, whip it, then try, try again!
01.43 am 11.03.09 (UTC)
F for Filter.

McCartny's biggest problem since 1970 is that he didn't have a filter. He thought everything he wrote was brilliant. Until then Lennon was his filter who was able to tell him what was sub-standard. Most of us have an internal filter and know what isn't up to par. Either rewrite, or file it.

01.56 am 11.03.09 (UTC)
I kinda file that process under Edit, but maybe it does need its own letter. (Frank Zappa had the same problem.) Hmmmm.
01.58 am 11.03.09 (UTC)
Some suggestions from Facebook:

"P = Pace, for me at least, one of the most important mechanisms in literature. :)" (Malachai Aird)

"Y is for Why not?" (Patrick Lundrigan)

"Y is 'yes, please, we'd love to buy your work'" (Lyn Battersby)

Edited at 2009-03-11 01:58 am (UTC)
03.31 am 11.03.09 (UTC)
Malachai adds:

"C = Characters - Cover Art
L = Lexicon
D = Dust cover
J = Jacket
T = Tome
V = Vocabulary
P = Plot
L = Languages :-)"
(no subject) - Anonymous - Expand
08.37 pm 14.03.09 (UTC) - R
02.58 am 15.03.09 (UTC) - Re: R
The more the merrier!
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