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debhoag
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I think we need a new set of Murphy's laws that applies only to writers. Named for John Kennedy Toole, the writer of "Confederacy of Dunces", which became a major success both financially and critically - eleven years after he committed suicide.


we could call them "Toole's Rules"

First one: Anything that you have a deadline for will immediately begin a chain of totally unpredictable events with only one ultimate outcome: you will miss deadline.

Second one: it's inevitable that if you only have one copy of something you did that was really great, it will be eaten by the dog; destroyed by the computer; lost on the subway, or be used for nefarious purposes by a six year old who is too cute to beat.

Anyone else?


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extrinsic
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All that is not expressly forbidden is mandatory. Infractions will be accorded as capital crimes. Sentencing will result in permanent shunning by the publishing marketplace.
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TaleSpinner
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Characters are like children. If you tell them what to do, they do something else.

If you trash a draft, you'll want it the next day.

No matter how much you revise it, no matter how short the piece, therein still lurks a mitsake.


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TaleSpinner
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"you will miss deadline"

Or you'll be up at 4.00 am in the morning trying to beat it and posting to Hatrack instead :-)


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Reagansgame
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You're greatest breakthrough ever will come in the middle of your best friend's wediing, where you'll have no way of writing it down for hours and you are surrounded by eight million people who want to catch up, swappin life stories.
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skadder
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If you follow too many critters advice your story will slowly evolve until the same people start saying they preferred the original version.

*bangs head against wall*


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Rhaythe
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You will not remember that last idea for a plot line that you had while driving your car. Ever.

Friendly criticism typically is not.

Be forewarned about sharing your work with your spouse: she may learn she does not know you as well as she thinks.


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Robert Nowall
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Deadlines focus the mind and help one get started on something. I think a lot of my stuff lingers around because I'm not writing to deadline and, consequently, have no reason to stop working on it.
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annepin
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Brilliant ideas will only come to you on the brink of sleep.
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Zero
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Yes that one is absolutely true!
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Cheyne
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When a brilliant plot point enters your mind you will be too busy to make note of it; you will remember only that you had it not what it was.
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debhoag
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Awesome! And Raythe, I read your post and splurted laughter. There's an entire story in that one sentence. And there are contests for that . . .
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annepin
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No one will ever understand your most brilliant story.

It's when you've cleared your schedule, rolled up your sleeves, and are eager to write that your spouse will choose to express he's feeling neglected and wants some quality snuggles.

Your computer will dictate when, and if, your story will be saved.


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KayTi
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While cranking on a deadline for one story, you will invariably be shot by a spark of inspiration so deep and enduring for some *other* story that you will feel it necessary to drop your deadline-driven story and work on the newly inspired one.

Which (of course) will turn out to be pure drivel.

The work that you pounded out in a half-hour while waiting for the bus will be polished and thoughtful and true and deep and real and accepted for publication at the first professional market you submit it to.

Your work that you sweated over for weeks, months, years, will be mocked and scorned by reviewers and markets alike.


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InarticulateBabbler
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The day you get time alone, no phone calls, kids, dogs barking, birds chirping or traffic, you will inevitably stare at the blank page with the cursor flashing on it until twenty minutes before life explodes again around you.

[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited September 30, 2008).]


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aspirit
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What number are we on?

Number ?: If you're sure a scene contains all the necessary information and nothing extraneous, the scene will be nonsensical to everyone but you.

Number ??: You'll realize your favorite character must die or suffer immensely to continue the story and you will grieve as if the character is real.


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extrinsic
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The number of writer-reader opinions about any given story is geometrically proportionate to the number of writers raised to the power of the number of writers minus one--the story's writer. n^(n-1). Both ends of the graphed nonparabolic curve approach infinity as they approach the asymptotic boundaries. 2 is the vertex of the curve.

[This message has been edited by extrinsic (edited September 30, 2008).]


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Zero
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I think you forgot to carry the one.
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extrinsic
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I am the one. E pluribus unum. I carry myself fine.

[This message has been edited by extrinsic (edited September 30, 2008).]


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Zero
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Did the Oracle tell you that you are the one?
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extrinsic
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No. Providence showed me.
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marchpane
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You know that scene, the one you slaved for hours over and are immensely proud of? Yeah. It's getting cut.
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debhoag
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when you're stuck on a bus with a brilliant idea and a piece of paper, it is inevitable that the pen will be dry or the pencil lead will snap.

any liquid within spilling range of a brand new sparkly clean manuscript will eventually tip over and be inevitably drawn to completely cover the manuscript without even touching anything else. Except, possibly, your lap.

[This message has been edited by debhoag (edited September 30, 2008).]


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InarticulateBabbler
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27 Rules and 3 Amendments (TaleSpinner amended rule number 1, and KayTi amended her own rule nuber 17).

So, now they are as follows:

Toole's Rules

  1. Anything that you have a deadline for will immediately begin a chain of totally unpredictable events with only one ultimate outcome: you will miss deadline. [Amendment:Or you'll be up at 4.00 am in the morning trying to beat it and posting to Hatrack instead :-)]
  2. It's inevitable that if you only have one copy of something you did that was really great, it will be eaten by the dog; destroyed by the computer; lost on the subway, or be used for nefarious purposes by a six year old who is too cute to beat.
  3. All that is not expressly forbidden is mandatory. Infractions will be accorded as capital crimes. Sentencing will result in permanent shunning by the publishing marketplace.
  4. Characters are like children. If you tell them what to do, they do something else.
  5. If you trash a draft, you'll want it the next day.
  6. No matter how much you revise it, no matter how short the piece, therein still lurks a mitsake.
  7. You're greatest breakthrough ever will come in the middle of your best friend's wed[d]ing, where you'll have no way of writing it down for hours[,] and you are surrounded by eight million people who want to catch up--swappin[g] life stories. (<--Just had to.)
  8. If you follow too many critters advice your story will slowly evolve until the same people start saying they preferred the original version.
  9. You will not remember that last idea for a plot line that you had while driving your car. Ever.
  10. Friendly criticism typically is not.
  11. Sharing your work with your spouse: she may learn she does not know you as well as she thinks.
  12. Brilliant ideas will only come to you on the brink of sleep. [amendment: or on the toilet, in the shower, ie: the worst possible time for recording it.]
  13. When a brilliant plot point enters your mind you will be too busy to make note of it; you will remember only that you had it not what it was.
  14. No one will ever understand your most brilliant story.
  15. It's when you've cleared your schedule, rolled up your sleeves, and are eager to write that your spouse will choose to express he's [or she's] feeling neglected and wants some quality snuggles.
  16. Your computer will dictate when, and if, your story will be saved.
  17. While cranking on a deadline for one story, you will invariably be shot by a spark of inspiration so deep and enduring for some *other* story that you will feel it necessary to drop your deadline-driven story and work on the newly inspired one. [amendment: Which (of course) will turn out to be pure drivel.]
  18. The work that you pounded out in a half-hour while waiting for the bus will be polished and thoughtful and true and deep and real and accepted for publication at the first professional market you submit it to.
  19. Your work that you sweated over for weeks, months, years, will be mocked and scorned by reviewers and markets alike.
  20. The day you get time alone, no phone calls, kids, dogs barking, birds chirping or traffic, you will inevitably stare at the blank page with the cursor flashing on it until twenty minutes before life explodes again around you.
  21. If you're sure a scene contains all the necessary information and nothing extraneous, the scene will be nonsensical to everyone but you.
  22. You'll realize your favorite character must die or suffer immensely to continue the story and you will grieve as if the character is real.
  23. The number of writer-reader opinions about any given story is geometrically proportionate to the number of writers raised to the power of the number of writers minus one--the story's writer. n^(n-1). Both ends of the graphed nonparabolic curve approach infinity as they approach the asymptotic boundaries. 2 is the vertex of the curve.
  24. You know that scene, the one you slaved for hours over and are immensely proud of? Yeah. It's getting cut.
  25. When you're stuck on a bus with a brilliant idea and a piece of paper, it is inevitable that the pen will be dry or the pencil lead will snap.
  26. Any liquid within spilling range of a brand new sparkly clean manuscript will eventually tip over and be inevitably drawn to completely cover the manuscript without even touching anything else. Except, possibly, your lap.
  27. When you have whittled your brain to matchstick and found a title that you're happy with, it will be changed.

[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited September 30, 2008).]


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skadder
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The day you are due to send your manuscript to WOTF, you will make a completely impulsive, last minute change to some detail. After you have posted it, you realise that,

a) you should have edited something else related to it further down the story, to keep things consistent. Damn!

b) the meaning of a KEY point now ambiguous, or open to complete misinterpretation. If only you had just sent it without that last edit...

c) there was another 'the' on the line above that you didn't spot, and now you have inadvertently put in the name of an 80's band, THE THE.

d) You left out a word.

e) Your story is now crap. Why didn't I send the other one which, on reflection, would have won the contest?

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited October 01, 2008).]

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited October 01, 2008).]


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TaleSpinner
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When you've written the last rule, someone finds another ...
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ozwonderdog
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While at your day job, you will be inspired to write. WHen you come home to write, you will be inspired to sit still
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marchpane
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Last thing before bed, you have an amazing idea that will revive your plot and solve a number of problems you'd been struggling with.

Most of the time you will fall asleep, telling yourself you will remember in the morning... and invariably you forget everything.

If you actually remember to write it down, you will wake up, flick through your frenzied midnight scribblings and realise the idea sucks.


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Crank
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You have solved the problem of forgetting incredible story ideas while having no access to a PC or notebook paper by purchasing a digital recorder. You have solved the portability and availability problem by purchasing pocket shirts and cargo pants so there's always a place to store your new recorder. You will forget to purchase backup batteries.

S!
S!...C!


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kings_falcon
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You can't please everyone with a story, but to get published you have to please the right people.


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Reagansgame
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When you leave your laptop open to run to the bathroom, either your cat or your toddler find the magic combination of keys to cut two hours worth of brilliant work, replacing it with a full page of "fja;sfjw[0uhdjfvalkfhutyppoaeibvn" and you spend the next half hour, cursing and clicking the undo button until you run out of undo's two scrambled lines too soon!

[This message has been edited by Reagansgame (edited October 02, 2008).]


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Lyrajean
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While housecleaning your computer files, or updating your flashdrive, or whatever... you will invariably not save the most current version of whatever story you are working on by accident and spend the next 48 hours wondering where on your hard drive/ flash drive (input electronic storage device of choice) those 20 pages you slaved over all day went.

Or the alternative, it is always the opportune time to pick up a computer virus...


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Crank
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quote:
Or the alternative, it is always the opportune time to pick up a computer virus...

Or...

Your PC will start making unidentifiable sounds when you're just one edit away from completing your masterpiece.

S!
S!...C!


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Lyrajean
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How about try using a foreign language version of Word and hit a random key and half your story dissappears into oblivion, does something inscrutable with the formatting or starts typing in kana... I'm in Japan so all the above has happened before.

I hate technology!

Even my brother the sofware engineer has told me how he's glad he doesn't have to type in a language that requires an IME program.


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extrinsic
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All the cleverest darlings are the parts of a story that no reader but a mother will like.
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Unwritten
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When you've written a brilliant short story that needs to be cut for the sudden fiction contest, you will invariably save the short, barely comprehensible version instead of the longer version which would have rocketed you to fame and fortune.
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Rhaythe
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quote:
All the cleverest darlings are the parts of a story that no reader but a mother will like.

...and when your mother rolls her eyes at your work, it's time to consider basket weaving instead.


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Robert Nowall
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When you go looking for an older story you want to work on again, you won't be able to find it because you didn't write out a label for whatever you saved it on.
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extrinsic
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From the lowliest comma to the most profound rhetoric, if the slightest trace of the omnipotent, omniscient writer's directorial influence is detected in a story, suspension of disbelief is jeopardized and disengages the reader.
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Bent Tree
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If you rely on autosave many frustrating moments will befall you.
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skadder
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Hey Benttree is back! Welcome.
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InarticulateBabbler
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Welcome back, Scott!
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