Shocking I Know but…A Post About Writing

I’m finishing up Tri Mates and putting a bit here and there in Battlefront as I go. I do that, by the way, have more than one project working at once. Because I’m a hummingbird. I like to have several things to think about so if I get blocked or bored, I can hop to something else.

Frankly, I’m not sure that’s wise, but it’s what I do. And it seems to work for me. And now I’m going to ramble a bit about supposed writing rules, feel free to go and grab some chocolate.

I look at posts in writing loops that talk about rules like if you don’t do things the exact way someone tells you to, you’re making mistakes. And to a certain extent, there are general things which make your writing stronger, no matter your genre like active writing versus passive writing and showing versus telling.

At the same time, I get a bit annoyed with people’s insistence that stylistic and voice differences are “mistakes” instead of differences.

As readers, we have our likes and dislikes. As writers, we’re ten times pickier. Boy, no one is a harsher critic of a book than another writer! When issues like first person come up, it’s not readers who seem so offended by the concept, it’s writers (and not all writers by the way, but a hell of a lot of them). I’ve been told that using multiple POV is “cheating” and I have to shrug it off rather than offer up the defintion of the word (To deceive by trickery; swindle. To deprive by trickery; defraud. To mislead; fool. To act dishonestly; practice fraud. – oops, okay so I did offer the definition and nope, not cheating)

A preference is not a rule. And yes, some people do have a preference for single POV which is usually third person. Then again, some people don’t care as long as the story is well told and engaging. At least a few people seem to like my books just fine.

So yeah, I’m sort of rules averse, I admit that. But I reject the idea that everything handed down by people in this industry is a rule to begin with. Nora Roberts has clearly been hindered by her use of multiple POV. Oh wait, no she hasn’t. Laurell K. Hamilton writes in first person and she’s certainly not suffering a dearth of readers because of it.

Does that mean that I can’t improve a scene by tightening it up? Or that a specific scene works better told in single POV? – Of course my work needs tightening and of course some scenes are not appropriate for multiple POV. And of course, sometimes, the writing can be confusing because you don’t know who’s thinking what.

But what bugs me is that I used to just write and now I’m always thinking about structural foundation and these gorram rules! Doesn’t meant I’m changing my voice, which is inherently multiple POV, but it does make me hesitate in places.

For Lauren the reader – matters of single or multiple POV are meaningless. It’s about the story. When I’m reading, I don’t think about those things at all. I’m thinking about whether the characters are three dimensional, whether I like them, whether they do things that are believable for their setting and motivations. Does the story work?

For Lauren the writer – I just let my muse write. The story comes out the way it’s supposed to.

There will always be people who don’t like certain books. Everyone has preferences. But this insistence on rules for rules sake by some seems a hindrance rather than a help. But again, I suppose that’s my preference.

3 comments to “Shocking I Know but…A Post About Writing”

  1. lili
    January 23rd, 2006 at 7:54 am · Link

    I don’t read critically. I read for enjoyment, for entertainment, so for me it’s about the story telling, not about the technical skill of the writer, or their use of perfect sentence structure. I like to feel their words. I like to be moved, to smile, to nod my head and say, “Yeah. Exactly.”

    Rules are for people who are too afraid to think for themselves, too scared to walk a little apart from the herd, because maybe if they do, the herd won’t accept them. The herd mentality kills creativity.

  2. Millenia Black
    January 24th, 2006 at 3:56 pm · Link

    I agree, Lauren. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Sidney Sheldon isn’t considered a literary “rule follower”, but he’s one of the most successful authors in the history of publishing. I’m sure he’s far outsold Steinbeck and Tolstoy. 😉

  3. Shelley Munro
    January 27th, 2006 at 7:35 pm · Link

    Ugh, writing rules! That was one thing that used to really annoy me when I was entering manuscripts in competitions. I’d get back comments – “You have to do it this way.”

    The most important thing is a good story, whether it be told in many POV’s, single person or whatever. And in case you haven’t guessed I’ve been known to write in first person and I love to switch POV’s in the middle of a scene 🙂