I don't know why I didn't think of this list earlier. I always had a few rules with writing that I regarded as rules that are basically the Cardinal rules of writing. Though with todays books, I can safely say that if there is a Hell for literature then most books and writers will be sent there for committing major sin, but enough of the intro, let's get to the meat of this topic.
Cardinal rules of writing
1. Research. I don't know why some writers think that they can bullshit a book by not doing research. Research is vital for any story regardless of what genre it is. Fantasy books taking place in a whole different world require research. Hell, J. R. R. Tolkien, author of the Lord of the Rings spent years doing research on mythologies of different cultures such as Norse, Slavic and Icelandic. Gandalf's name is a combination of two words in Old Norse and has been compared to the Norse God Odin, because the two are known by many different names (Gandalf the Grey, Gandalf the White, Stormcrow, etc.). Even Middle-Earth has been compared to the translation of the word Midgard which was the middle of a 9 world model.If Tolkien did not do research he would not have known anything about Norse Mythology or its culture. voices.yahoo.com/norse-mytholo…;
A perfect example of a writer who did no research while writing their book was S.M. How do you know? you may be asking. Well in Breaking Dawn, she says that Rio DeGenero is on the West Coast of Brazil. Last time I checked, the city is on the East Coast, not the west because there IS NO WEST COAST! Also, Rosalie was said to be rich during the Great Depression because her father was a banker. Bankers were not immune to the depression as nearly 5,000 banks failed, resulting in massive unemployment. Meyer also says she doesn't do research because, "One of the great things about fantasy is that research rarely applies." Okay, refer back to my J. R. R. Tolkien reference but Hell, even current writers such as J. K. Rowling and George R. R. Martin did research for their series. Don't believe me? Well in the Game of Thrones series, Tyrion for the House of Lanaster is captured by Catlyin Stark of House Stark. He pleads that it be a trial by combat, when he is facing judgement. Trial by combat has been famous throughout the history of Europe. Ancient Germanic tribes used trial by combat to decide the fate of someone on trial (believe me I looked it up). Research is vital for any writer and you can't just bullshit it because you don't feel like doing it.
2. Don't compare yourself to classics. This is another thing that Meyer does which pisses me off. I can understand if one is inspired by classic writers to write a book, believe me classic writers have inspired me as well. However, it is not a wise thing to compare yourself to writers such as Jane Austen, William Shakespeare or the Bronte sisters and many others as well. Why? Because it A) makes you seem like a smug pompous ass and B) no one can top the classics.
3. Don't create Mary Sues. Now some of you are thinking, "What is a Mary Sue?" Well I'll explain with a quote. "A Mary Sue (sometimes just Sue), in literary criticism and particularly in fanfiction, is a fictional character with overly idealized and hackneyed mannerisms, lacking noteworthy flaws, and primarily functioning as a wish-fulfillment fantasy for the author or reader. It is generally accepted as a character whose positive aspects overwhelm their other traits until they become one-dimensional. While the label "Mary Sue" itself originates from a parody of this type of character, most characters labelled "Mary Sues" by readers are not intended by authors as such. Male Mary Sues are often dubbed "Gary Stu", "Larry Stu", "Marty Stu", or similar names." (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_sue) Now this is where I can seriously bash most Young Adult books because most of the "books" and I'm using the term lightly, have protagonist that are blatent Sues. Bella Swan in Twilight, Zoey Redbird in House of Night and Ever in Evermore. They are all Mary Sues and their love interest are Gary Stus as well. Lets examine a few, shall we?
Bella Swan we can tell is a Mary Sue just based on her name. Bella Swan = Beautiful Swan *vomits* Yeah, that's about as Mary Sue as we can get...oh wait, Ever Bloom *vomits again* Bella has no flaws except for being clumsy. She also attracts every man to her and their dog (pun not intended) to her within the first few chapters. This "character" is just Meyer's self insert so she can satisfy her sexual desires. And if some of you don't believe me that Meyer is really Bella, go to Meyer's website and look for the description of Bella. It's just creepy.
Zoey is a "vampyre" who is blessed with the abilities to control all five elements which is rare. She attracts about 5 guys to her, including a teacher (GROSS!), all of whom are trying to win her over. Jesus, and I thought Bella was more irritating on the Sue Scale. Zoey also doesn't appear to have any flaws except for being a slut (which makes her a hypocrite because she calls a girl a slut for giving a guy one blow job, who later stays with one guy while Zoey screws with her teacher while having 2 more guys after her)
Now, I understand that when we first write a story, we tend to unintentally write Sues. However, through editing, one should be able to make their characters have flaws that will essentially make their character interesting and full of depth. However, the three Sues I mentioned are about as deep as a puddle during a hot day. Hell even their lovers are the same, though I'm not going into detail with them...yet.
Now some may ask, "What is an example of a flaw?" Well I'll tell you using a character from my story (Though for my sake I'll not use her real name) Let's call her Elizabeth. Elizabeth is a very tough character in that she doesn't like to admit when she is afraid because of the tramas she has experienced as a child which caused her to toughen up. This however can make her seem a bit uncaring since she will also be blunt with people. However, she does get along with some people but others are afraid of her because she wear clothing that makes her appear tough. She also has a phobia of fire. Those are flaws you can make a character have, both minor and major. Others can be ego issues, whether big or small, manipulative or submissive (be careful with submissive though or you may annoy a few people), lacking a moral compass etc. etc.
4. Don't fall in love with your characters. Now I understand that as writers we may like our characters. However, you should never fall in love with them because you then are afraid to make choices with them that could potentially strengthen their character. I know you all are thinking, "Raven, why are you ripping on Meyer?" Me: "It's just too f*cking easy. She's broken all the rules." Meyer said that she didn't want to kill her characters because it made her upset. Yeah because killing off the Cullens would just be SOO bad. Actually, killing characters can add more to character developement. Character deaths can morph a character so that they maybe become tougher and more hostile, or they seek revenge, or hell they move on and learn to let go of the dead. Don't keep characters alive simply because you're afraid to have something bad happen to them.
5. Don't fall in love with your words. As a writer, you will be forced to edit your writing and may have to get rid of some phrases you like. Don't fall in love with them because you may end up getting rid of them because the lines are too cliche, they don't make sense or they just sound ridiculous. If you refuse to edit your work, don't become a writer.
6. Purple Prose. This is a big thing that annoys the hell out of me. Meyer is an example of an author who can't stop writing purple prose about Edward because she wants everyone to marvel at his sparkly body. Now, I have no problem with pretty characters. However, if you describe them as being very handsome or beautiful, there should be a purpose for it. In Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dorian is describe as being very handsome. However, the description of his beauty is vital to the idea of even a handsome man can be very corruptible and hollow. That concept is brought up by Dorian's friend Basil who mentions this shortly before being murdered by Dorian. If you describe someone as beautiful, make sure it serves a purpose, whether it is because the character constantly tries to make themselves look beautiful because they are vain or it touches on a larger theme. However, don't over describe them, or you will simply annoy the audience.
7. Repetition of words. Make sure that you don't repeat yourself all the time or you'll just indicate to your audience that you can't think of another way to describe something, which will come across as lazy.
8. Adverbs. STOP USING ADVERBS IN EVERY SENTENCE! In my reread of Twilight, the first chapter I counted about 111 adverbs. WAY TOO MANY. I can understand the occasional adverb but using them in every sentence is just being lazy. "Adverbs are the tool of a lazy mind" I believe Mark Twain once said. Well said sir.
9. Finally, don't constantly rip off other stories because you think they'll sell. What do I mean by this? Well with most YA books, they basically follow the same plot as the Twilight Saga. This just proves that writers to follow that plot concept have no originality. I know that now a days there is no such thing as an original story. Basically stories are a) Man vs. Self b) Man vs. Society. or c) Man vs. God. Those are the basic ideas of stories. The same plot that most YA authors follow is that a human girl meets a supernatural boy, girl develops an unhealthy obsession over which leads her to find out what he is, they get together, the end. That's the basic concept that YA writers follow to the point that it becomes annoying. The writers are basically just copying Twilight because they want to cash in on the cash cow of YA teen paranormal fantasy.