Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bits O'Wisdom: Rule Breaker!!

I know what you're thinking. *Gasp!* She can't be seriously telling us to break the rules...right? Haha yes.
Well....sort of.
I've been writing since twelve. Not much to brag about from back then since most of the poetry I wrote were rantings of an emotional preteen. Haha. Eventually, years later, I sat myself down and began writing my very first novel, entitled: Welcome Home. I was super excited. I spent weeks clicking away at the computer in the living room. Days, nights...I was on a freaking roll! Writer's block? Ha! I had no idea what that was. None of that wretched disease for me! The words flowed like an endless fountain of word vomit. It was beautiful. I was having so much fun.

Then again I also had no idea what I was doing. I didn't know my characters needed to move things forward. Didn't know that all those adverb cluttered sentences were no-nos. Or that I was probably putting too much detail where there shouldn't be...too little where there should be more. I was ignorant. And like they say...ignorance is bliss.
A couple months later my novel was finished. Can you guess what I did next? Oh yeah. I queried the thing. (Or at least I thought I did. I really had no idea what a query letter should look like) Sent it out to every address I could get my hands on and waited. I really wish I could tell y'all that I got a miracle response with a book deal that made me famous. That some kind hearted editor saw past the badly written manuscript and took me under their wing. Unfortunately this is reality and stuff like that rarely happens. If ever. No, what happened was a wake-up call. I was rejected.

I wallowed a bit. Sniffled. Then I picked up the pieces of my shattered ego and got myself into some writing communities. I started learning the ins and outs of good writing and met some fellow writers who helped me along the way.

Like everything in life...writing has rules. As writers we need to learn these rules, practice them. It's the only way we will ever get better. Unfortunately, sometimes it's these same rules that hinder our creativity. Stifle our muse(s). We get so caught up in following these rules, these guidelines, that we forget to let our uniqueness show. Which is why..sometimes..we have to break them.

---> Save the unconventional writing for when you're established...
Um, we've all heard this. I've heard this. All the time. But what if your story (you know the one in your head that is screaming to get on paper) is supposed to be mainly back story? *gasp!* Or what if the whole thing can't be told any other way except for multiple flashbacks? *eek!* I can see all you 'Rule-Followers' cringing in horror. I can hear it now: "Don't do that! Nobody will publish you! That's a no-no!" Really? Think about all the great many of them broke the rules? Is it ok now because they ARE published? Doesn't that mean you can too? Once upon a time J.K.Rowling was not J.K.Rowling. Stephen King, Danielle Steele, Nicholas Sparks...they weren't always THEM. Hmm..

---> Stick to the 'formula'...
It's not really called that, not always, but y'all know there is a formula for erotica, romance, fantasy, horror...some method one must follow to build a 'good story.' Romance must have that element introduced early. Sex scenes must show up almost first thing in Erotica. Inciting incidents must be huge in Fantasy...I get it. Again I ask: What if that's not how your story is supposed to be told?

Those are just a couple of rules that are often advised one shouldn't break. It defies the norm. It goes against the way things are done. Yes, stories must have structure. They need a purpose driven plot and characters that aren't flatter than a pancake on Sunday morning but they also need to have that uniqueness that sets it apart from all those other books out there. Does your story have that? Is it unique? Does it have that spark? Yes? Good.

So...are you going to tell it the way it was meant to be told? Or are you going to tell it the way others say it should be told?

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