Writing Wrongs

November 09, 2005

I had a thought the other day We’ve all heard how publishing is a business. Nothing personal, it just is. And perhaps you’ve heard how the Japanese regard business as war. Wait. I’m going somewhere with this. It follows then, doesn’t it, that publishing = war.

In that vein, I thought it might be good for writers to have the equivalent of “rules of engagement.” So I borrowed some of my favorite Murphy’s Laws of War and applied them to writing.

Just wait until I tackle Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.

Murphy’s Laws of Writing:

war: No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy.
Writing: No manuscript ever survives contact with an editor.

war: Teamwork is essential; it gives the enemy other people to shoot at.
Writing: Critique groups are essential; it gives editors other people to reject.

war: When you have sufficient supplies & ammo, the enemy takes 2 weeks to attack. When you are low on supplies & ammo the enemy decides to attack that night.
Writing: When you have sufficient paper and toner, the editor will take two weeks to request the manuscript. When you are low on paper and toner, the editor will want you to FedEx it overnight.

war: That enemy diversion you're ignoring is their main attack.
Writing: That market trend you’re ignoring is the next big thing.

war: If you are short of everything but the enemy, you are in the combat zone.
Writing: If you are short of everything but criticism, you are in a writers workshop.

war: Friendly fire - isn't.
Writing: Constructive criticism - isn’t

war: If you can't remember, the Claymore is pointed toward you.
Writing: If you can’t remember, you forgot to enclose the SASE (Self-Addressed, Stamped Envelope).

war: Field experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
Writing: Publishing credits are something you don’t get until just after you need them.

war: The tough part about being an officer is that the troops don't know what they want, but they know for certain what they don't want.
Writing: The tough part about being a writer is that editors don’t know what they want, but they know for certain what they don’t want.

war: The newest and least experienced soldier will usually win the Medal of Honor.
Writing: The newest and least experience writer will usually win the Golden Heart.

war: The crucial round is a dud.
Writing: The crucial scene is a dud.

war: Every command which can be misunderstood, will be.
Writing: Every sentence which can be misunderstood, will be.

war: If only one solution can be found for a field problem, then it is usually a stupid solution.
Writing: If only one solution can be found for a plot problem, then it is usually a stupid solution.

war: Sometimes, being good and lucky still is not enough.
Writing: Ditto.

war: Murphy was a grunt.
Writing: Murphy was a writer.

Charity Tahmaseb wrote at 8:52 a.m.

|