Saturday, December 13, 2008

Guest Blog (Day 5): Gallimore by Michelle Griep

A Code of Chivalry For Writers

by Michelle Griep

Strict codes of conduct dictated the life of a medieval knight. For instance, armored knights raised their visors as they rode past royalty. This gesture not only identified them but showed respect as well. It’s this custom that has evolved into the modern military salute.

Following the code of chivalry, a knight should be brave and fearless in battle but also exhibit cultured qualities showing themselves to be devout, courteous, and generous.

All this to say that if rough and tumble warriors of the past displayed the good sense to behave in a civil manner—aside from the occasional decapitation or two—then today’s writers, aspiring and ordained, should be able to maintain a gracious demeanor as well.

I googled Writers Code of Chivalry and guess what…there isn’t one. Never fear, though. After hanging out with writers for the past decade, I came up with one of my own.

The first rule to take to heart is do not cry as if your tongue has been stapled to the carpet just because you get a tough critique. Yes, it’s painful but get over it. Your mama’s not always going to say nice things about your writing anyway.

Also, it’s an all-around bad idea to stalk an editor. Just say no to this felony even if you think you’ve got some sweet covert operational skills. Trust me on this one, seeing your name on a mugshot is not the same as seeing your name on a cover.

Refrain from excessive blabbering about your characters and plotline. Really, the check-out clerk at the Wal-Mart store does not care if your hero kisses the heroine and saves the world all in the first chapter.

If you’re going to ask other writers to read and comment on your rough drafts, please do the same for them. Hiding behind a deadline to avoid returning the favor is wrong on about forty-three different levels.

Holing up in a room with a computer is fine for short periods of time, but if you exit with cadaver-toned skin and swirling pupils set in blood-shot eyes, then you’ve definitely crossed a boundary. Do not alienate yourself from your family members or the general public at large.

Writers are a quirky lot. Not many others would submit to constant criticism and low wages, but do so as gallantly as possible. After all, maybe five hundred years from now a new military practice will be instituted in honor of an aspect of chivalrous writers behavior.

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