Thursday, December 29, 2011

Writing Rules

When reading books on writing or participating in on-line groups, we hear about the rules of writing. I've always felt that rules were more like guidelines. We've all read the best- seller that broke all of the rules. The writer, usually an established author who has great skill, is able to break the rules and make the book work.

However, most of us need the rules to help guide us in writing compelling fiction that will keep the reader turning page after page.

I recently read a novel that had very good bones but the author broke many of the writing rules and was unable to pull it off. She had the potential for a fast-paced, breath-taking novel but instead the novel drug and I found myself skipping large chunks of dull narrative summary.

Each chapter was written from a different character's perspective. All of them in first-person. By doing this, she created large chunks of narrative summary - boring narrative summary, because each chapter started the story over from that character's POV.

If every POV had been drastically different, it might have been interesting but I found myself skipping over large portions of the book because it was just dull, rehash of the story.

The writer also wove a thread into the story that was a clue as to whether a death was an accident or a murder. Then she left that thread hanging. No one ever pulled on it to unravel it. So the tread just hung there.

The novel also had many typo's and grammar issues that I'm surprised an editor or agent didn't pick up on. Many of them could have been found and corrected if the author had gone back over the manuscript and done some self-editing.

I understood the writer's idea behind the first-person POV from each character but she wasn't able to pull it off. Her story idea was good but the it got mired down in the poor writing.

As we pound out our novels, it is important to keep the rules in mind unless we are established and skilled enough to break those rules effectively.

No comments: