Posts Tagged ‘Enid’s Laws’

Happy Mother’s Day!


May 10th, 2020 Posted 10:54 am

Normally on Sundays we do beginnings – taking a look at the start of a Peter Abrahams novel, including those written under the Spencer Quinn moniker. But today is Mother’s Day, so I’ll be remembering my own mother, who taught me most of what I know about writing by the time I was 12 or so. She died before I became a writer but that shouldn’t stop me from saying, Thanks, Mom. Especially for the tips on dialogue!

(Last day for the Heart of Barkness Mother’s Day special, by the way.)


Enid’s Laws


March 3rd, 2017 Posted 7:41 am

Most of what Admin knows about writing he learned from his mom at an early age. He wrote it up for the Extras at the back of the paperback edition of REALITY CHECK (Edgar winner, Y.A. mystery category) some years back.

Enid’s Laws (by Enid, circa 1957; annotations and #7 much later, not by Enid):

1. Organization is everything.

If the story isn’t organized, what have you got? A mess. To be organized, you have to make some big decisions from the get-go, such as: What’s the POV? One character? Multi? Tell it in first person? Third? How about the tense? Tone? I’ve got a nice beginning but will it lead to an end? Getting stuck without an end is bad. Make sure an ending is possible, and “the world blows up” doesn’t count. There are maybe 10,000 decisions in writing a novel. Accept that.

2. Fiction is about reversals.

Just like high school or college wrestling (meaning real wrestling). It’s much more fun to watch a back-and-forth match than a blowout.

3. Torment your protagonist.

Or, flipping it the other way, don’t fall in love with your characters. And the main one – perhaps hero, perhaps not – needs to be tested.

4. Push everything as far as you can without contriving.

Get everything you can from your ideas – don’t leave the gold mine only partly dug. But stop before you do anything that makes the reader feel your behind-the-scenes presence and think that terrible thought: That couldn’t happen.

5. Always advance the story.

Sometimes when you’re writing you’ll come up with a lovely little passage, a description of sagebrush at sunset, say, and a white dove gliding low. Does it move the story forward? No? Then out it goes. Shoot that dove!

6. Be original.

On every page! In every paragraph! No boilerplate! Ever!

7. (added much later) Be playful.


Crime Bake


November 9th, 2013 Posted 8:15 am

“How did your workshop go?” Spence said.

“No one threw anything,” says Admin.

“That’s my metric,” says Spence. “Nice job. Did you give them a look at Enid’s Laws?”


“What did they make of them?”

“No one threw anything.”


Welcome Cooper, Nikki.


Apple (Big)


May 23rd, 2011 Posted 9:02 am

“Headed to New York today?” says Admin.

“Yup,” says Spence.

“Speaking at BEA?”

“Briefly. On a panel. Plus another event or two.”

“Taking the laptop?”


“Working on the you-know-what in your spare time?”


“Just remember – bend every note.”


Welcome Susie.


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