Thursday, December 17, 2009

Writing Rules Begone!

ARGHHHH! Rules, schmules. I'm so sick of trying to figure out what's right and what's wrong in writing fiction. You know, you can carry this rule thing too far and totally change your voice and writing style. What's even worse is when you belong to a critique group and constantly get conflicting opinions. Who do you trust?

Actually, I trust everyone. Each person has an individual talent and style, and perhaps write in a way totally different than mine. Isn't that what we want? Variety is the spice of life, so I've been told, but when it comes to mainstream or finding an agent, it almost seems like we're expected to fit our stories into the same confining box as all the rest of the authors.

I've been a "serious writer" since 2001, and almost weekly, I feel like someone throws a new rule into the mix. Now, I'm supposed to limit the times I use "it". Rather than making the reader guess what "it" is, use a hard noun. Okay...I see the logic, but there are just some instances where "it" works.

And of course, the "was" is passive rule. Try to eliminate using it as much as possible, and definitely not with a gerund. Well, I like gerunds and I refuse to eliminate them. I will minimize using "was" if I can think of something else, but I'm not going to burn brains cells over something so trivial. (I lied...can you smell the smoke?) I was so paranoid over passive voice after one editing session, that I changed anything that sounded the least bit passive, and the writing became so stilted and stiff, the story sounded ridiculous. We have to leave room for author style. And do readers really count how many it and was instances are in each chapter? I doubt it.

Not to knock those who write medical romance, but a few years back, I reviewed HQ Medical Romance for one site, and the books eventually became so predicable, I felt as though I was playing "insert a new name here and locale here." You can't blame the authors. They have forced to follow guidelines of what ALL readers supposedly want.

Hey, I may write, but I read too, and I'm tired of the same "cake-mix" plots. Add a new character and stir the pot. You can add a few more nuts or some food coloring, but you still come out with a cake.

While Santa is making a list and checking it twice for naughty or nice kids, I'm trying to fit more more rule into the continuing roster of do and don't do in my head. I need a shoehorn.

How about sharing some rules here that have you confused.


Lea Schizas - Author/Editor said...

Ginger, I can't say there are rules that confuse me as much as getting pissed from the lack of understanding why a manuscript was rejected.

When you read "we accept young adult fantasy", check the publisher's and agent's guidelines and books they've contracted and see your book is a fit, it befuddles me when I get a "I'm sorry. Your book doesn't fit our needs." Well, I guess I do have a confusion to post after all. GRIN

It's a lottery pick when it comes to submitting out there. For this reason, I prefer the smaller to mid-sized publishers who have the time to make a small note with suggestions to revise and resubmit.

Do I need the larger publishers? Some will disagree with me but no. Many of the smaller ones are getting their books into bookstores or at least signing contracts to get their books listed in major bookstores that opens the door for authors to work these establishments and GET them on the shelves. It's not easy but who ever said this business was easy.

Happy holidays, my dear friend.

Ginger Simpson said...

Great to hear from you. I miss our more frequent chatter, but as we both know, life gets in the way at times.

I agree, the size of the company isn't as important as the end result. As you know, my final goal is to see at least ONE book in a real store without having to sneak it in under my coat and leave it on a shelf.

Care to share which companies might help me realize a dream? It's not about money either...just getting to that final goal.

Happy Holidays!

Trent Kinsey said...

I hear ya Ginger!

Drives me nuts when I miss something that I wouldn't have looked at before because my voice "sounds" like it did before hand. Now "IT" is in the mix...I'll never make it through my MS's lol.

Happy Holidays (that's not me being PC, that's me being lazy and not wanting to type both holidays out lol)


Phyllis Campbell said...

Ginger, I know what you mean. I feel the same way! What I hate is getting told from editors and crit partners I'm not following the rules...but then I pick up a New York Times best selling author and guess what? They're not following the rules, either. So what's up with that?


Anita Davison said...

I'm with you all the way on this one, and the answer I often get back when I rant on this is, 'You have to understand the rules before you can break them'. Then I pick up a book at Waterstones and the author has broken all of them! Now what?

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