I was reading a book the other night where the hero adopts a puppy. Then the worst thing ever happens – the dog dies. And not just dies, but is gruesomely murdered by the killer as a message to the hero.
It should be the first rule of writing. DON’T KILL THE DOG.
It makes me less anxious to read anything else by this author. Will he kill more dogs? I don’t want to take the chance.
I was telling a writer friend about this, and we decided there should be universal writing rules, regardless of genre.
- Don’t kill the dog.
- Don’t make the entire story turn out to be a dream. (A la Dallas, for those of you who remember.)
- Sex scenes must be physically possible to replicate.
There are other rules that apply to the mystery genre in particular – you can’t introduce the killer at the end of the book, you can’t have the crime solved by intuition. But across genres, I think these three rules are a fine starting point.
What other rules are there? What do you HATE to see a writer do? What makes you stop reading?