Writely Advice: Break the rules

One of the most important people in my circle of writerly peeps (who also happens to be the most kick-ass beta reader of all time) puts in her comments for me (This isn’t technically correct, but I know how you like to break rules, so … your call.) And she’s right — I loves me some rule breaking. Why? Because that’s what they’re there for — to be broken.

How can I say that? Simple: If rules weren’t meant to be broken, they wouldn’t be so damned tempting. With that said, I thought I’d share with you some of the rules I tend to break. You can then judge for yourself if I’m a loon or quite possibly onto something so mad, it could be brilliant. 😉

I should probably preface this by saying I am one of those writers who is not even remotely ashamed to admit that I completely depend upon my editors. Without those wonderful people I’d be awash in a sea of typos and grammatical errors. My tenses would be forever at war with one another and my verbs, adverbs, nouns, and pronouns would be wearing one another’s clothes. Mass hysteria — I’m tellin’ ya! Okay, now that you know that (as if you didn’t already), let’s get to those rules. Here are three particular rules I break most often.

Rule 1: Poetry has as much a place in prose as does dialog tags and description. Words are such lovely tools and are even lovelier when the combination threatens to break the veil between beauty and purpose. I love twisting and turning phrases and using words that might not normally be used within the confines of a standard sentence. Doing this brings a uniqueness to my words and makes the reader want more. But this isn’t about me showing some skill — this isn’t about ego. This is about honoring the story within my head and the art within my soul. The two must co-mingle and dance or I am not serving the purpose to the best of my ability.

And let’s face it — fiction is art and art is beauty. If there is no beauty in the words, what is the reason for their existence? Leave that type of writing to journalists and news writers. Let them be the voice of pure logic, reason, and to-the-point writing. That of course doesn’t mean every sentence I write is filled with flower. No. Although I break this rule quite a bit, I try very hard to not overdo it. Fortunately, when I do overdo it, my editor points it out (at which point I either accept or reject those changes.) BWHAHAHA!

Rule 2: Kill your characters. I know, this is crazy … but there are such a few characters in my little army I refuse to kill off. Everyone else? Well, I am very sorry, but you are fodder for the cannon that is my pen. Why is this? I don’t want my stories or my characters to grow complacent. This is especially true within a series. The second characters and plots grow formulaic, a writer begins to fail. So instead of allowing that to happen — I kill people off. This also keeps my readers on their toes. When you are reading one of my books, you simply never know if that character you have such a crush on will make it to the end of the book and into the next entry in the series. It’s evil, I know, but again I say BWAHAHAHA!

Rule 3: Break down the walls of perspective. If you’ve read enough of my works, you know I tend to switch back and forth between perspectives. Generally this is frowned upon by many a writer. Personally, I love this method of story telling. Why? Well, first and foremost, readers want to see the story from different perspectives. But to keep it from getting confusing, I have a method that instructs this madness. I generally use the main perspective from the POV of the main character. The secondary perspective is almost always the bad guy. So I typically have the good guy and the bad guy cam. Now in my next entry to the I Zombie series (Lie Zombie Lie) I am going to attempt and even more dangerous perspective trick and have multiple perspectives — with purpose. I will have the good guy cam trained specifically on Bethany and the bad guy cam will follow various groups. That’s all I’ll get into with that (I don’t want to give anything away). Dare I offer up another BWAHAHAHA? Sure I must.

Rules are there for a reason. Without rules there would be anarchy (and I don’t mean of the “Sex Pistols” type). But just because a rule is there, doesn’t mean it has to be followed. If that were the case, so many new books today wouldn’t be released. We break genre rules, we break grammar and structure rules. We do this because we are rebels with a cause and that cause is to bring to the reader the most genuine, honest, exciting books possible.

I love my stories and the characters I have created. I love them so much I am willing to bend and break whatever rule that stands in the way of me telling a story true to their hearts and souls.