This week’s WriteMyMemoirs blog post started out as a discussion of the writing rules noted in a YouTube video called Top Ten Writing Rules From Famous Writers, which was posted last year by Lyra Communications. Instead, I’m on a rant! These are the ten rules listed:
10. Stephen King: Write a draft; then let it rest.
9. Stephen King: Read a lot.
8. George Orwell: Never use a long word when a short one will do.
7. George Orwell: Never use the passive voice when you can use the active voice.
6. Pierre Berton: Know your audience.
5. Pierre Berton: Recycle and read the good stuff before you write.
4. Andrew Morton: Honor the miraculousness of the ordinary.
3. Stephen King: Good copy = Draft minus 10%.
2. Bob Cooper: Look at every word in a sentence, decide if all are really needed and, if not, kill them; be ruthless.
1. Al Kennedy: Writing doesn’t love you; it doesn’t care. Nevertheless, it can behave with remarkable generosity. Speak well of it, encourage others, pass it on.
I suppose those ideas are worthy of discussion—although I’m not sure they’d be my top ten—but I’m finding that I’d rather critique the video itself than the rules. I have a lot of problems with this video. First, there seems to be a “famous writer” shortage. Wouldn’t you be more interested in ten rules from ten different authors? Here, only six writers supply all ten rules. I also question how well these writers meet the title’s definition of “famous.” King and Orwell are the only famous writers, and that Cooper guy was the narrator’s professor; I don’t think that credential qualifies him. Also, speaking of Cooper, I had to reword his writing tip to make it grammatically correct! For the #1 writing tip, which is really not a tip but a plea, the narrator refers to the author as a “he” when the person actually is a woman. The communications lesson from this video is not what the company intended but, rather, to make sure your information is accurate and compelling before you post on YouTube.