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Thursday, May 17, 2012

There Are No Rules to Creating Fiction

Gasp!  Blasphemy coming out of the mouth of a freelance copy editor?

It is a fine line that I straddle.  So, here goes.

There is "fact" (circumstances, subject to change) and then there is "truth" (universal and invariable).

Yes, I concede that there are grammar and punctuation rules, those insightful keys to perfect our communication.  Well-established foundational tenements to effective writing.  Nouns, verbs, apostrophes, etc.  All in black on white.

If you have that, as a novelist, you can break some/most/all those ancillary idioms of supposed writing rules.  Like incomplete phrases in your work.  And starting a sentence with a conjunction.  Or ending one with a preposition.  Which I have done below.  At least twice.  Ha!

I love this quote and it finds a perfect place about now in this post, so I will share it:  "You are remembered for the rules you break."  Douglas MacArthur.

Actually I found several quotes that voice my viewpoint.  Regardless, even if I were the only one who thought this way, yet I felt convinced and had my supporting defenses, I would proceed.  After all, it is my writing.  My choices.  My decisions.  So we each need to choose our own path.

I'm a member of the stupid-rules-can-be-ignored club.  Like rules based on greed, for instance, should be replaced by those which serve the common good. 

I also believe there are rules, and then there are overriding rules. Like gravity may exist as a rule in nature, yet an airplane (or a bird) have both shown there is another law in nature that gravity succumbs to.

And certainly our genre dictates some degree of formality or another of casualness.  In a scientific textbook, I would think formality might serve you.  Still, some laypersonese would help get a convoluted theorum across, as well.  Just look at Charlie's examples for Don et al in Numb3rs.

As for my style, which this post evidences, I'm very much a conversationalist in my writing.  I write like I speak.  With stops and starts, and rabbit trails.  Yet I hope I've corralled all the ramblings more so when blogging, due to the shorter length involved.  [I know.  My blogs are longish.  But compared to a 400-page novel, not so much, right?  It's all relative, as they say.]

Maybe my opinion will free some frustrated authors out there trying to abide by the manifold sundry rules and being stifled in the process.

Again, I revert back to my love of NaNo.  Hang the rules, gag your internal editor and just get your story down.  You separate the creation part from the editing phase so your muse doesn't die an instant death.  That works for me anyway.

I wish for my thoughts and opinions to give hope to any struggling authors claiming writer's block affliction, when it is really too-many-rules-heaped-upon-the-author-spoil-the-creation syndrome.

You can even switch POVs in your story, such as first person becomes third person or vice versa.  If the reader is not confused, you have effectively and successfully changed your overall POV.  That's all we can ask for.  In support of this theory of mine, see this great post by the Snowflake guy, Randy Ingermanson, here:  http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/blog/2012/05/16/perfecting-that-pesky-point-of-view/.

As a romance author, I write in dual-third-person POV.  After all, a romance takes two and I give equal weight to both my hero and my heroine.  My main characters follow a separate character arc, each one growing.  For those of you who write in other genres, this POV may never be applicable to you.

But if you are following the welcoming light cast by Nora Roberts--who embraces (or started?) the dual-third-person POV--then you and I share a common mentor. Also consult Leigh Michaels' book which has a section on this romantic POV at http://www.amazon.com/On-Writing-Romance-Craft-Novel/dp/1582974365/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_4.

To summarize, I see my writing path somewhat like the inalienable truths I hold in my heart.  There's a hierarchy involved.  Yes, I do not believe in armed robbery.  But who knows what I am capable of if a kidnapped loved one were being ransomed with a ticking clock counting down the final two hours?

Wow, my internal movie theater just clicked on with some interesting clips and previews . . . .

And back to my original idea for this post.  Remember, the Bible says that God searches our heart, for our intent.  One of the liars in the Bible is memorialized in the Hall of Faith.  The harlot, yes, the harlot Rahab who lied on purpose to save the spies from certain death.  Check it out yourself in Hebrews 11:31.

That's the place where you create from.  Your true self.  The rules be slammed.  Isn't that more freeing and energizing than all the crippling folderol you may hear otherwise?

Now, take your newfound (or renewed) freedom and go tell that tale residing within.

Denise Barker, author + freelance copy editor
Good Ole Boys, a love store
A Copyediting Checklist for Novelists

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