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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » The 13 lines...

   
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sphinxsphere
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I've been reading about the '13 lines' rule and it thinks extremely practical. Writing is both an art and a business so both have to be satisfied. Yes, it ticks off artists when they have to do an info 'dump' essentially to what should be the most engaging part of the story. But it also ticks off editors and publishers when they get to three pages and still no know what they are supposed to be reading. One of most embarrassing moments in my senior writing class was my teacher pulled me aside and said, 'You know, I really liked your work. Your characters were inspired and your word usage is outstanding. But I don't know what it’s supposed to be about." From then on I made it a point to make sure the reader had an idea what was going on.
In other words, keep the audience wondering "What happens next?" and not "What's happening now?" At least until the reader is establish into the story.

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bigdawgpoet
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Well said, and here here!

I agree with what you've said, and I would add that this is at once the most difficult thing, and the most important thing, that a writer has to do in order to successfully "hook" a reader. I think I've heard of this somewhere before as dynamic tension.

Thanks for posting!

~Ben (bigdawgpoet)


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sphinxsphere
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dynamic tension. i like that. yeah i've read many books where they set up the situation so well that i into the third page and there was still no story for me. and then the reverse is true, it jumps right into the story and characters but i have no idea exactly where i am or supposed to be watchig. its a balance, and a precarious one.
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lehollis
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I think the first thirteen, and the F&F area, can be taken too seriously. To me, as long as folks remember the heart of the practice--would you read on--it works quite well. I've learned tons from it. The problems tend to arise when it becomes to serious, as if the first thirteen have to tell the whole tale.

I gave up on my first thirteen. I just couldn't rewrite it to where people would like it, at all. The next one did a little better. The ones after were received increasingly better each time. To me, that is proof of its value.

And I agree. Of all the rules in writing, being clear seems to be among the least optional of them.

Restrict your use of adverbs and adjectives? Sure, but I've seen writers get away with it.

Don't use flashbacks? Same.

Use good grammar? Seems like the whole industry has given up on that one (exaggerating).

Be clear in your writing? I've never seen a writer get away with skipping that one.

And that clarity or lack-of-clarity really comes out in the first thirteen.

I know many here say they won't touch F&F, but unless your sure of your clarity (and sure through others feedback, not your own judgment), I'd highly recommend spending some time there. (Even then, it's worth a visit once in a while.)


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