“He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander.”
There are a lot of rules–let’s call them guidelines– that master the world of writing. Most “experts” agree with the very long list of things you cannot do when writing a romance novel.
But me? I’m not so sure. Many writers can and do break the rules. So I wonder just what it is that allows some authors to twist us up in knots while we struggle to advance a career in publishing. Is the reason we get so frustrated with our inability to publish what we write that we really don’t know what we’re doing?
Let’s hear it for those who didn’t break the rules because they didn’t know the rules.
How about Diana Gabaldon? Didn’t she realize the name “Jamie” wasn’t an Alpha Hero name? When we’re naming characters we are instructed to chose a power name, one with snap containing the hard sharp letters that heroes show off so well.
Let’s talk about Nora Roberts and head hopping. She started breaking the rules before she probably knew them. But, she did know what she liked, and she certainly put what she liked into her characters, which made them compelling enough so millions, and I do mean millions of readers never noticed the head hopping, but loved her storytelling.
So I guess it comes down to you. You need to find your own voice. The way to do this is to read often and write more often. Some writing coaches will tell you that you must write a million words before you find your voice. I don’t know if it’s true, but I’m pretty sure if I’m not there I’m close.
Do I bend the rules? Sometimes, but not often. There is no magical publishing history to support rule breaking at this moment in time, but maybe someday. I do know what I like, and I read a lot. If I break rules like Nora, it’s not intentional, it’s just what I like.
So what’s the final advice here? Keep writing, it’s the road to success, whether you fancy yourself a pantser or a plotter, a craft aficionado, or a simple storyteller.
If you think it’s not possible to be successful without breaking the rules, maybe you are a “born” storyteller and will be successful, maybe not.
But then we don’t write for any reason other than love of writing, do we?