- Writing isn’t about inspiration, the muses, or your lucky rabbit foot.
- Writing is about SKILL.
- Gaining that skill is a matter of sufficient practice. The skills of good writing must have time to seep down into your subconscious.
- If you want to get good at writing novels, write novels; if short stories, write short stories. etc.
“Basically, everybody in a room can judge a pianist level of skill within a minute or two of playing.”
- That’s why you need to have the skill to impress on that first page of writing – it’s not about ideas, inspiration, luck, etc
Sanderson’s First Law is the first law developed by epic fantasy author Brandon Sanderson for use in designing settings for genre writers. While originally created as a rule for magic systems in fantasy novels, Sanderson has specified that this law need not apply just to fantasy, but is applicable to science fiction as well.
Sanderson’s First Law. An author’s ability to solve conflict satisfactorily with magic is directly proportional to how well the reader understands said magic.
This Law was originally defined in Brandon’s essay, “Sanderson’s First Law” located on his website. In the essay he qualifies the two extremes1 of design as being:
1. Magic/technology has well defined rules that the audience understands. As a result, one can use this to solve conflict more easily as the capabilities are cleanly defined. Brandon classifies this as “Hard Magic”. C.L. Wilson in her essay “Worldbuilding 101 – Making Magic” advocated this method of creation, stating, “…create your rules, then follow them.”
2. Magic/technology has unclear or vague rules, or none at all. This allows for a greater sense of wonder to be attained for the reader, but the ability to solve problems without resorting to deus ex machina decreases. Brandon classifies this as “Soft Magic”. Lawrence Watt-Evans specifically advised “The trick is to be a benevolent and consistent deity, not one who pulls miracles out of a hat as needed.”
It has to become a force of habit to write well – a baseball player doesn’t hit purely out of luck, nor do they thing of percentage angles or trajectory in minute detail as they swing.