December 05, 2006

Heinlein's Rules

You Must Write
Finish What You Start
You Must Refrain From Rewriting, Except to Editorial Order
You Must Put Your Story on the Market
You Must Keep it on the Market until it has Sold
Start Working on Something Else

7 Comments:

At December 05, 2006 6:38 PM , Blogger Papa Twister said...

I assume this is Robert Heinlein author of Stranger in a Strange Land. I agree except with the refrain from rewriting. I look at it more like rewriting is a luxury. I always want to rewrite, but it’s not on my priority list until I’m paid.

 
At December 06, 2006 2:42 PM , Blogger Matt_J said...

That ban on rewrite hurts. I read it as, get it right the first time. I love that, 'You Must Write'!

 
At December 06, 2006 2:43 PM , Blogger Matt_J said...

(Yes, Robert Heinlein.)

 
At December 06, 2006 7:23 PM , Anonymous Tim said...

I don't agree with "you must not rewrite" at all!

There is a famous quote I can't dig up right now about working for 4 days perfecting one sentence.

Kurt Vonnegut said that when starts a work, he feels like a legless, armless man using his mouth to write with a crayon.

You can't freely write if you know you can't go back and rewrite. Perhaps I am misunderstanding the rule and it is about rewriting your work after it is "complete":

"Well, my book is written--let it go. But if it were only to write over again there wouldn't be so many things left out. They burn in me; and they keep multiplying; but now they can't ever be said. And besides, they would require a library--and a pen warmed up in hell."

 
At December 07, 2006 12:39 AM , Blogger Papa Twister said...

1st – Robert Heinlein is not the greatest writer, and Stranger in a Strange Land could have used a couple more drafts. It’s a sloppy book.

And I have an MFA in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute, and I promise that no instructor at AFI will ever tell you not to rewrite. In fact, they’ll tell you that writing is about rewriting.

I personally feel that a 1st Draft is when you have whatever you’re writing in a form that it conveys what you are trying to say and you like it. Then all notes will be subjective, and you can respond to them if you want, but that’s a luxury. Personally, I only respond when paid. And since I’ve adjusted my attitude, thing’s have gotten much better for me.

Also, check out my last post and tell me what you think… please.

 
At December 08, 2006 10:05 AM , Blogger Matt_J said...

So, we modify Heinlein's Third Rule to read Once Finished You Must Refrain from Rewriting, Except to Editorial Order.

There is a school of thought on scientific writing called 'Barf and Buff'. The idea is to conquer the white space and create structure by throwing out whatever crap is running around in your skull. Then go back and polish.

I have been trying to find the source of my dislike for The Eagles, and I might as well throw in The Beach Boys and Bon Jovi and Barry Manilow: Too much buff, not enough barf. Bands I would rank as being high on barf: The Replacements, The Pretenders, The Ramones, The Pistols, The Stooges, etc. etc.

 
At December 08, 2006 10:05 AM , Blogger Matt_J said...

Another book that could have used some rewriting and/or editing: Dune.

 

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