Friday, June 18, 2010

Break the Rules

Yep. The time has come to talk about rules and to break them.

I mean, it's time for the Break the Rules Blogfest, which I am posting on this blog instead of my other one because it's a great excuse to talk about writing rules, again. For those that remember, though I'm sure the one person who commented on that entry doesn't even remember, I posted about writing rules. They aren't rules like "no weather talk as hook" or "cut down the usually used adverbs" but instead rules writer's should have for themselves, like try to write every day. Check out the old post if you want Old Rules Blog Entry but it's okay if you don't go back.

Now I'm going to talk about rules for the actual writing, and then I'll post an entry that breaks a few of the rules. Some I've heard often, others not as much and a good number of them I don't follow. I'm bad like that. *giggles* If you just want to read the entry, go down to the bolded "Blogfest" section with the blogfest details and entry.

Some writing rules (in no particular order):
1. limit adverbs
2. don't start with weather
3. write what you know
4. don't start with dialogue
5. no second person
6. no present tense, or future tense (don't see the future so i'm guessing it's a rule)
7. don't follow trends
8. avoid animal main characters, except maybe in children's books
9. no inanimate objects as main characters either

Some of these make sense. Don't follow trends because by the time you get the book done enough to submit it sure as heck won't be a trend. Write what you know, I don't believe but I'm not going to explain here. Maybe some other post. I might have talked about it in the past already, I don't remember. Let's look at numbers 1, 2, 4, and 6 in particular.

1 - Ever since being in an online critique group, I notice adverbs in anything I read. Okay, not all adverbs but the -ly ones in particular. I'd conveniently forgotten that -ing also can be an adverb, and I knew to cut down words like "just". However, I had other people in the group who would not see the point I was making when I would comment on the adverb usage. They just didn't see the problem. (Notice all my adverbs in this? lol) I'm not talking a few, either. When I mention it I'm talking several adverbs in one paragraph and sometimes three in a single sentence. That to me is too much, since I've been dealt this rule for a number of years now. They have their place. The rule isn't saying they should be eliminated. The trick here is to know when to use them, and when to find a stronger way to write the sentence.

2 - Don't start with weather. I don't know for sure but this might be in part because it was done too often in the past. Setting the scene makes sense, to a degree, which is why some people will start with weather and it can be used as a foreshadowing tool. But it's not as catching for a hook. It doesn't give the reader the character they are to become involved with by reading the book, there isn't real action except maybe in a storm. It has it's place in a few books but not everyone cares what the weather is like, at least not on page one, paragraph one. I actually haven't really done with one before. Not that I can recall at least.

4 - I heard this one from someone else. I honestly, until they mentioned it, did not think it was considered bad. Often with my little short stories for contests on I'll start with dialogue because it can be attention grabbing. There is sometimes action, movement in dialogue and it draws the reader right in. I guess people say this shouldn't be done. *shrugs* The novel I plan to submit to agents, the one I'm doing the rewrite now is YA involving mutants and yes, it starts with dialogue. So, if this is a real rule then I break it all the time.

6 - I can see how this one may be in effect. Not many books that I've read are done in present tense and the one from my critique sounded weird. I don't know what it is either. Yet I have books in present tense. Yep, I do. Started with first person present tense because for the book it sounded better that way. Most of what I write, however, is in past tense and I'm more comfortable with that. But it's sort of a rule that most books follow.

Okay. That's my ramble about the writing rules. Let's get to the actual blogfest.

Break the Rules Blogfest with the great host of Elizabeth Mueller and check out the link to see the other entries.

"Rules, Rules, Rules. Okay, what we are going to do is REBEL against those rules on June 18th. Let's think outside the box. Bring on your first drafts, your when-you-were-a-kid-first-draft kinda writing. Let's see how many of us have grown from it and how common these rules were broken in the good ole days of writing innocence." - Taken from the blog post about the blogfest.

About my entry: There isn't much to tell. Not following the idea mentioned above in posting something from when I first started writing. I thought about this last night, at 2:15 am after I stopped reading in hopes of going to sleep. I blame the blogfest creator, Elizabeth Mueller and Carrie Ryan (Author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth) since I was reading her book before coming up with this idea, because I don't need a new idea. I really don't. But here it is. I don't have names for characters or a full plot, so I'm going to say this:
It's adult fantasy, first person point of view, present tense with female main character. The hook is dialogue and weather, while there are adverbs in the short entry. But I do like that I managed, for once, in a paragraph to use 5 senses, which you can ask Ashy, that's rare. So, Enjoy!

Entry: novel//story is unknown

"It's just rain."

The words don't provide comfort, at least, not for me. I can feel it. This so-called rain, this deeply disturbing weather, is different. The clouds billow and expand in ways no clouds should. From them come a sound, that everyone is mistaking for thunder, but it can't be thunder. It's constant rumbling like that of the ocean but there is no mass of sea water. It's coming from the clouds, I'm sure of it. The water falling tingles when the droplets fall on uncovered skin. Allowing the weird droplets on one's tongue gives a taste of thin syrup, but it's not a good taste. There is no warmth, no pleasantness in this syrup water. The smell makes up the air is thick and musky with mismatched odors that remind me of dying flowers that are close to qualifying as mulch. I don't know why no one notices all these differences. As a witch, I'm used to sensing, to seeing before the normal ones but this time I'm the only one willing to admit the change. They all act as if nothing is wrong, nothing is different.

I try to convince him that it's different, because of all the people in this location, he is the one that should believe me, but he doesn't. He thinks I'm over-sensitive and blames the pregnancy. He says the hormones and such make things seem different. I know he's wrong.


elizabeth mueller said...

Dawn! *Cringing* I'm sorry for making you lose sleep! I really appreciate your thoughts and very valuable advice about writing rules! ;)

I really like your piece. Present tense first person, for me, is very captivating. I thought you did a great job here!

Thank you for participating, I really appreciate it! ((Hugs))

Courtney Barr - The Southern Princess said...

Love it Dawn! Such fun. This blogfest was crazy for me - I dug into my writings from pre-teen...yeah...crazy girl posted something from the romance loving mind of an 11 year old...;o)

btw - Carrie Ryan's work - TOTALLY with you on the loss of sleep with her book!

Visit My Kingdom Anytime

Anonymous said...

Nice description of all the senses!

Thanks for sharing! :D

Sangu said...

Great sensory detail! Thanks for sharing this, I can emphathise with the courage it takes to bare our old writing to the world :)

Andrew Rosenberg said...

Chubby Rain!
(hope someone gets that reference)
I don't think it was all that bad. I want to know what's going on with the weather....

Raquel Byrnes said...

Very visceral. Did a great job showing all the senses. Nice hook at the end.

Dawn Embers said...

Elizabeth - that's okay. It's more the insomnia that makes me lose sleep. You just made me have to get up and write something down. lol It's a fun blogfest. ((hugs)) Glad to participate and look forward to everyone else's rule breaking.

Courtney - Wow. I don't have any stories from pre-teen to early teen years. A few bad poems but no stories. We made them up in our heads and never got to writing them down (me and my sister). And Ryan's book, yeah. I have been a slow reader lately but I finished it within a 24 hour time period. Wow.

Ibdiamond - Thanks for commenting. I often forget the senses, at least putting more than 1 or 2, so I was glad I manged it this time.

Sangu - Thanks, though this isn't old writing. It's brand new, written just for this blogfest. I didn't do much writing before college, and forgot that was recommended (posting old stuff) with the blogfest.

Andrew - X.X Sounds funny, but alas, I don't get the reference. Hope someone else does. ;-) hehe. Glad you didn't think it was too bad, I had to add adverbs after the first writing cause I may *cough* be getting better at writing. Maybe.

Raquel - :-) Glad you like it, and the end. I liked the sound of that as being the end of the entry, which is why it's short.

M. Bail said...

You did manage to get a lot into that paragraph, didn't you? But I did want to know what was going on!

Tessa Conte said...

Nice imagery! And I don't think you can NEVER start with the weather...there must be exceptions, right?

RaShelle said...

I thought it was interesting and I loved the comment about husbands and hormones. LOL ps:I'm sorry you lost sleep too.

Babydoll said...

Why does the rain taste like syrup? Good story! It's a really good beginning!

Dawn Embers said...

M. Bail - That I did. I like that paragraph. :-D

Tessa - True. With most rules there are times when the exceptions are allowed.

RaShelle - nice of you to feel bad over my lack of sleep but I'm fine. I have insomnia so it's not unusual. And I was reading an awesome book.

Babydoll - That's a good question. Maybe one day I'll come up with the answer. lol

amy said...

The comparison to 'thin syrup' stood out to me. I liked that a lot. :) Not bad for a rough draft in my opinion!

Dawn Embers said...

amy - Thanks. I'm quite happy with the rain description. :-)

Angie said...

This really isn't too bad. I like all the senses used here.

Donna Hole said...

Thans for going over the rules for us again. I didn't know you when you posted it the first time. Very nice of you to re-post.

At the risk of mimicking everyone else - this wasn't all that bad. A little overdone in the description - but it is emotive. The depth of her distress over the rain and his lack of understanding drew me into the character.

I love that she's a witch, a sensual being. Maybe you don't use all five senses in your writing, but I've found your style very sensual - as in, touch is a consistent part of your descriptions.

And I liked the adverbs. They may be a bit over used, but they add to that sensual feel.

Eh, its late and I'm tired, and I guess what I really wanted to say is: well done, actually. I liked it, and will love it after you edit. Good entry.


Dawn Embers said...

Angie - Why thank you.

Donna - Wow. That is quite the comment for being late and tired. I like magick and witch characters too. And thanks for the compliment. Touch is the one sense I do use the most for sure. :-D