Thursday, January 29, 2015

ROW80: Weds check-in on Thurs -- with rules.

Last night at writers' group, two of the writers in my small group protested a comment about shifting point of view, saying, "The rules don't matter at all." They cited proof from several A-list writers they've read (literary fiction).

Apparently, this writing strategy applies to dialogue, story structure, punctuation, grammar, and the elements of fiction we've all come to know and love. 

Maybe this is true -- that we can play with our stories and stretch those 'old rules'. Maybe I'm too conservative a writer and reader. Maybe I'm too sensitive because my own wip is in that deep revision stage. 

My personal take is that writers can do pretty much anything -- as long as that 'anything' doesn't snap the reader out of the story. 

What's your take?

And now for the lamentably late check-in for ROW80. My 'to-do' list was short this week.

1. Writing/revision: Wrote every day. Two more chapters revised in wip, posted twice, read one chapter in Cowie. GOAL BY SUNDAY: Continue. Maybe 'finish' one more chapter. Back up all writing and transfer current wip and research to travel computer. 

2. Community. Met sponsorship goals for ROW80. Met with writing group. Committed to pr work for nonprofit. Registered for "2015 Power of the PEN" writing conference sponsored by the Inland Empire Chapter of Romance Writers of America here in Spokane on March 7. GOAL BY SUNDAY: Wind up dangling threads with all local folks/projects.

3. Marketing. Nothing. Still tracking ripple sales now from BookBub promotion. GOAL BY SUNDAY: Check out e-Reader News Today , Indies Unlimited, and Book Gorilla as potential marketing sites. Indie books can be highlighted on these sites and their promotional e-newsletters. Each has different guidelines (of course), but all look smaller and less expensive than BookBub. Outcome: A promotional schedule that will allow me to evaluate which venue works best in terms of attracting new readers and generating sales for my historical fiction.

May the coming week be a good one for your writing, reading, and all else! I think the next few days will be hectic as we pack up for a month trip to Galveston, Texas, where temperatures seem to be hovering close to the 70s, not bad for January. 


"Birds on Galveston Island" by Vadim Troshkin (posted by Galveston.com on Flickr)

9 comments:

  1. I agree. Play with the rules, but don't complain if people don't like it, and don't buy/read your book. Yes, rules should be flexible, but they are rules for a reason: they generally make it easier to become immersed in a story, and to make it understandable.

    If you're talking about POV shifts within a scene (head-hopping), I think that rule is definitely a rule for a reason. Head-hopping throws me out of a story hard, and quickly. Some authors can manage it without losing readers, and that's probably why they're A-listers. Most can't.

    I'm very interested to see your findings on promotional sites. I really need to get on that... I've applied for my first bookBub ad. Fingers crossed!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for commenting. I always try to balance critical feedback with a positive comment, but this reaction took me aback, esp. for a POV shift within one scene. I really like how you say that SOME writers can carry this off. Not all of us. And yes, I will post my findings . . . hopefully before Sunday, over on my writing blog. Thanks for the feedback on my feedback. :)

      Delete
  2. Since I'm a proofreader as well as an author, I get pulled out of the story when grammar and punctuation rules are ignored. There are times (very few times!) when those rules can be broken for certain reasons. I'm reading a book right now with so many comma splices and so many missing commas that it's driving me crazy. I've had people actually tell me they don't follow comma rules because they don't matter anymore. This makes me shake my head in disbelief.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel the same way, Lauralynn, though I still wish I wrote a little faster. Between art and correctness lies an abyss. Somehow we strive for both.

      Delete
  3. I know people like Nora Roberts do head-hopping within the one scene, and she seems to be doing okay(!), so obviously a lot of people don't care. But I don't like it. It always shocks me out of the story when I see it (and, not coincidentally, I've only read one Nora Roberts novel).

    I think grammar rules can be more relaxed, as long as the writer is doing it deliberately to suit the voice of the writing and not just because they're making mistakes and don't know any better. It's usually obvious which is which. I tend to use a lot of sentence fragments, and start sentences with conjunctions, maybe even split the odd infinitive when I'm writing in very close third person, because that's the character's voice. I want the narration to have personality, not sound like an entry in a textbook.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This made me smile. My Achillles' heel is passive constructions and those tricky subject-verb agreements. I read somewhere that we can use slang and fragments freely in dialogue, though. And I agree that the genre and voice also can influence the level of 'correctness'. Can we expect continued change in 'the rules'? OMG, yes!

      Delete
  4. I say, write what is natural, think outside the box to freshen things up, and realize that some folks like to complain about something/anything. You do good work, Beth. Follow that leave the nay-sayers, nay-saying :-)

    Oh to see 70 degree temperatures...sigh! :-) Well, when June gets to Corning it will...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for those encouraging words, Cindy, that focus right down to the essentials. And now to write, for as John Irving said, "Half my life is spent in revision!"

      Delete
  5. I've read "literary fiction" novels in which there was no punctuation. I'm not kidding. None! So, I like rules. I think too it depends on the genre you are writing in. Currently, I'm writing a mystery, and I know these readers are going to be on every clue like a hen on a grasshopper. My romance novels, I think readers are a little more forgiving. Not that they aren't savvy readers, just more forgiving.

    ReplyDelete

Your comments brighten my day. I will visit your site and comment if I can. Thank YOU for visiting!