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.