DFWCon Panel: Rules of Writing

From her Twitter page.

Welcome to my second panel review of the DFWCon writer’s conference!  I have to admit, this wasn’t a panel so much as a lunch discussion by guest speaker Tara McKelvey.  She’s so cool she has her own wikipedia page, guys.

If you’re too lazy to follow those links, Ms. McKelvey is a high-profile journalist who’s covered national security issues in the Middle East, South Asia, and Russia.

Anyway, she spoke to us about her Rules of Writing, and they were so awesome I had to dedicate a blog post to them.  Here we go!  Hers are in bold, and what I can remember about her comments afterwards are in… not bold.


  1. Like your subject.  You won’t get far if you don’t care for what you’re writing.
  2. Don’t like them too much.  When you fall in love with your characters or plot, you tend to be blinded by them.  Make sure you view your writing with a critical eye.
  3. Let people have their say.  She spoke from a journalistic point of view, and was referring to the people she interviewed.  But it can easily be translated to your beta readers and critique partners.  Their feedback is important.
  4. Do a cost-benefit analysis of your content.  Is the personal information you just wove into your story necessary?  How much does it improve the plot, versus how angry someone might get if they see their personality in print?  Is losing their friendship worth it?
  5. Live by deadlines.  Always, always set deadlines, even if they’re self-imposed.  They encourage you to write fast, and keep writing.
  6. Remember who your boss is: your reader.  No matter what, their preferences rule how your book will be received!
  7. Create rituals.  Writing habits are a good thing.  Always.
  8. Shut up and get out of the way.  There’s a point when your story is done, and you need to stop talking.  Realize when you’ve reached that point.

There were a couple Rules I missed in my frantic scribbling, but since I can’t remember them, you’ll never miss them either, right?


See you next Thursday!  The topic: Review of the First Page Gong Contest.  Oh yeah.



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