When I started writing I had no clue about these writing 'rules'. The only thing I knew about this was the grammar my word processor helped me correct.
There is much debate regarding the natural 'voice' or story telling capability versus following these said rules.
Show vs tell, use of adverbs and POV shifts, to name just three I can remember and ones I break unwittingly. (ah adverb!)
As a reader I would never have known whether writers were breaking these rules and if they were, whether it was on purpose or whether the rules don't actually apply. Do agents and publishers reject manuscripts because people knowing or not, break these rules? This is the big question.
I wish I knew the answer to this because then I would know how many of the rules I should or shouldn't follow.
I have read loads of published books where the rules are constantly broken. Is it because they are published that they can? Or again do the rules matter? All I know is my reading is less enjoyable now that I know the rules, that is, if I choose to think about them as I read.
I do know that one publisher rejected The Mystic Garden because of show not tell. Now if I wasn't a member of the authonomy community I probably wouldn't have know what this actually meant, still not sure if I do entirely but I am a lot less clueless than before.
So in saying this perhaps these 'rules' need to be followed and we are basically wasting out time if we don't BUT I believe the other thought in reference to rules is relevant too. If the writer has no voice or story telling capabilites, then are they just stringing words together to make beautiful prose? They may not have an adverb in sight, show with wonderful flourish and rarely swap POVs and especially not in the same scene but is the plot driven forward? Does the story grab the reader? Are the characters likable or can be related to?
These are the big questions, well for me anyway. I read LOADS of unpublished writers on authonomy while moving towards the ED's desk. I can easily say that the books which had me turning the virtual pages sometimes contained loads of adverbs and POV changes to make your head spin BUT had a story or interesting plot as opposed to something that was technically correct but had no spark. BUT I am one reader and I am unpublished.
This poses yet another question, do most readers who DON'T write care about these things. Do they dislike adverbs or shifts in POV? From what I know the answer is no. These things probably do not even cross the mind of an average reader.
So where am I going with this blog? Most writers want to be published (well that I know of anyway) and there have been many heated arguments on authonomy forums about who is more likely to be published, a rule breaker with a story to tell or a writer who follows the rules.
The answer to this in my humble opinion is the middle ground. A natural story teller who doesn't know the rules or doesn't follow them could have a chance of being published BUT if this same said writer learned the rules or applied them to the best of their ability, would this increase their chances? I think yes. There is a middle ground, a story teller who learns the craft.
Rules can be learnt but can creativity, story telling and voice be taught? No, I don't think they can. Anyone could learn the craft but without the ability to create a plot they have, I believe, even less chance of being published than someone with a story to tell but have not learned the rules. I could be wrong but I think readers want stories. Is it not called story telling after all?
I know about some of the rules and have read a few self help writing and editing books. Where I can with my writing and in turn my editing, I now try to show more, cut some adverbs and keep my POV shifts to a workable level. Of course I have only given three particular rules in my blog entry today but you get the drift. I believe learning these things and applying what we can can't hurt IF the ability to tell the story isn't lost in the process.
The last question or food for thought I am going to leave you with is this: the writers who write technically perfect, follow rules and have honed their craft to within an inch of its life, may write wonderful words BUT if they can't tell a story which captures a reader, what is the point? Harsh? You tell me.
An update blog.
I re-submitted three chapters to a romance publisher after making changes via their suggestions and I still wait to hear from them.
As per my home page, I received an email from The Authonomy Team on the 8th of April asking for the remainder of my chapters of Spoilt. As they only guarantee to read the first 10,000 words and because I only had approx 26,000 words posted on the site, being asked for the rest was exciting. Even if nothing comes of it, having a large publishing house ask for a full is a huge step. The least I can achieve from this is a review on my full MS.
I plan to use my review to further polish Spoilt and use my gold star achievement and said review for marketing to agents.
The other news is regarding my pen name. As I wanted to branch out to erotica and in particular gay erotica romance I decided to use the pen name of Veruka Salt so as to separate this writing from my other romance novels. I have created a new account on authonomy for Veruka and American Girl and have been receiving great feedback from it. The other new thing about this story is I've written in first person, the first time I have done this for a novel. It is currently ranked just above 1000. I won't be pushing for the ED desk again but will be interested to see how it does.
Finally I have posted Fire Starter, Charlottesville and The Mystic Garden on authonomy under my user name. Once again I am not striving for the desk, I am displaying them for interest only.
I will blog again soon regarding any updates or the next topic I come up with to muse about.
Till then keep writing!