Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rules of Writing

What I'm Reading: Wow. I'm back to several books at once. On the Ipod, it's Blood Brothers by Nora Roberts. For pure fun, it's Driven by Eve Kenin. For consideration for next summer's community book for my fav high school, it's Never Surrender by Jerry Boykin. And finally, for book club, it's Splendid by Julia Quinn. Whew!! This list should take me awhile.

What I'm Working On: I'm taking a quick break from working on plot issues in Seer that affect Slayer. After I get these worked out, I'll be tweaking the first 15 pages of Slayer for critical eyes and I'll be back to the rewrites on Slayer.

If you've been writing very long, you've probably discovered that there are alot of rules -- particularly if you are attempting to write commercial or genre fiction. Understanding the rules is good. Writing by them can be good, too. Sometimes.

Didn't you ever have rules growing up that you were really glad you broke -- some even if you got caught? My mom had a rule: No boys at the house without an adult present.

I get that one now that I'm a parent of a teenage girl, but back in the day, it was a stupid rule. I wasn't the kind of seventeen year old to shuck the clothes and experiment with my boyfriend. Both of us were mature enough to admit to not being ready for that, which in our minds also meant we were mature enough for some alone time.

And, of course, that's how we wound up at my house -- alone for a few hours -- one Sunday afternoon. We didn't do anything, except make out a little and watch a movie, but my mother was livid.

And, I got grounded.

For two weeks.

I'd do it all over again, though, even if I knew I'd get caught. Why? It was worth it. It made the story of my senior year 100x better.

I think writing is somewhat the same. The rules are there to keep you out of trouble, but sometimes breaking the rule makes the story 100x better.

One "rule" of the romance genre is "the hero and heroine" must meet in the first few pages -- at least by the end of chapter one. In the romance I'm reading now, Blood Brothers by Nora Roberts, the hero and heroine meet in the middle of chapter 3. And the first 2 chapters are backstory -- highly interesting, essential-to-the-story backstory, but they are still backstory. I'm thrilled she broke the rules. I was hooked on Blood Brothers in the first few pages and have no hang-ups or regrets about the couple not meeting until later.

It's good to read a book like that every once in awhile and be reminded to do what's right for the story -- not necessarily what the rules say.

And, it's good to remember some of those 17 year-old lessons.