Monday, 12 April 2010

I just don't get it!

Have you ever had your ms critiqued, and experienced all those light bulb moments, and then get all excited about editing your ms, because now you finally have the right idea? And you've spoken to other writers about these strategies and techniques too, and they all nod in agreement and say the same thing?

"Yes!" You think to yourself. "My book is now going to be one awesome saleable piece of fiction. Now I know the trick to great structure. Now I know how to hook the reader in."

Then you start reading a novel, by a very very popular author, who has in fact become a millionaire, and it defies all of the rules you just learned.

I say WAH?

What do you think about this?


  1. YES! And I HATE IT! It just goes to show, there's no hard and fast rule. Just someone's opinion.

  2. That's one of the perks to being a big wig author. You have to slave away for years following the rules ... then when you hit the big time, you don't have to follow them anymore.

    Though it backfires sometimes. There are some of my old favorites that I don't read anymore, because they moved too far from the things that once made me adore them.

  3. I think rules are made to be broken ;)

  4. Ha! I've seen that. I figure I'm still to green in the publishing world to break rules, but one day... :0

  5. I know the feeling, I don't write fiction or any novel but poetry,
    but the expertise I have found while doing this challenge makes my humble writings look childlike.


  6. rules? There are rules??!! crap!

  7. Rules change depending on who's writing them or following them! :-)

  8. Hi Jessica,

    Yeah, I've seen this, too. I try not to let it get to me. I just keep swimming.

  9. I am LOLing right here. Ah the insecurities of us writers! It never ends does it?

  10. My first question would be, "Is the work any good?"

    A number of bestselling authors make it to the top writing junk. Which means that junk can make it, but it isn't likely to, IMO.

    If the work *is* good, then I have two questions:

    1. Did the author *really* break the rules?
    2. If the author really, really did break the rules, then yes: some rules are made to be broken.

    So want to tell us what rules and whether the author really, really did break them?


  11. I KNOW.

    and I DON'T KNOW [WHAT TO DO].

    it just goes to show that you need to learn the rules. and then know EXACTLY how to break them.

    whatever that means..


  12. TWILIGHT! Just to name one. Stephanie Myer is NOT my favorite author, but she comes to mind. Nora Roberts on the other hand IS my favorite author and her most recent book almost has me pulling my hair out.

    It's a rule for us - that's for sure. They get away with it because:

    1. They have butt loads of followers who will buy a book no matter what.

    2. They are lazy and can get away with it because of #1.

    Please remind me to NOT be like this if I ever get published. I'll remind you too ;-)


  13. haha Paula! Wow! Nice to see you lurking round here :)

    (Dear followers, this is Paula from The Writing Show. The one who critiqued the first two pages of my novel on her podcast.)

    Ok to answer your questions.

    1. Yes, the writing is [enter swear word] fantastic.

    2. Rule is limited (or better, none at all) backstory in the first chapter. Now I'm talking commercial fiction here. It seems to be a common pet peeve among agents to have back story in first chapters. Well, she broke it. Way way way broke it.

    AND I loved reading every second of it.

  14. I know EXACTLY what you're talking about! I've read many authors where I sit back and go, "Wait, not only did they get pubbed...but their a BESTSELLER?"

    I just take it as a sign of hope :)

    Thanks for signing up for Last Line!

  15. I'm not good at rules! I Gotta Be Me should probably be my theme song! :)

  16. It's hard for me to say much more without seeing the chapter. Maybe she hooked you so thoroughly that the back story doesn't intrude on your engagement. That can certainly happen.

    I don't suppose you want to divulge the name of this mysterious book.


  17. You know I think the best thing is to write what you love, constantly improve your craft without deviating from your voice, and make peace with the fact that all the advice is just that...advice and opinion. In the end its just a numbers game...those who keep at it the longest, have the gest chance...persevere!


    It's SO confusing! I think this is the exception, thus proving the rule. At least this is what I tell myself to have it make sense to me!

  19. Ugh... :( That's why I've been mad at books recently. I don't get it either.

  20. I know what you mean. I think a lot of times authors who are already agented and have already sold a book are allowed a lot more freedom with 'the rules' than debut authors.
    OR the lucky ducks just happened to snag an agent who loved their particular style, broken rules and all....If only I could be so lucky.

  21. It's so frustrating... but I remind myself to just keep going and sooner or later all this hard work will pay off!!

  22. Yeah, I hear ya. It's like they tell us not to use adverbs, but I can pick up a bestseller, and find a ton of them.

  23. Wow, everyone has said what I wanted to say, but I will say it anyway.

    I don't get it either. Because not only does said author on the NY Best Seller list *NOT* follow the rules... it's their first book being published. Then they garner a frackin' following and leave the rest of us sitting here doubting our talent. I mean really... if we break the rules, the red pens come out, the finger shaking starts, we cringe and hurriedly make our changes. So what's up with this?


  24. Candyland: Yes! but I still say WAH?

    Tracy: That's what I thought. Get your first book out there, and if you make it big, you end up telling THEM what to do - hehe

    Tara: Too right!

    T. Anne: yes definitely one day :)

    Yvonne: Your writings aren't childlike! Pfft! I love your poems. Sometimes simple is better, you know?

    Sugar: LOL

    Shannon O'D: yes. You're probably right.

    Shannon: Oh how sweet! Thank you for the lovely clip :)

    KarenG: Me Lolling too. I"m always Lolling AT MYSELF!

    Tahereh: Hmm, that's what I'm thinking. The opposite of everything.

    Justine: For sure! I'll come to you for a personal hand smack if you ever do. :)

    Liliah: Yes. Perhaps we should take it as a sign on hope.

    Beth: LOL

    Paula B: It's the Almost Moon, by Alice Sebold. The second chap is even more full of it!

    Raquel: Yep I'm always going to write what I love, but I've figured out how to do that by still implementing the rules. So I guess I'm lucky :)

    Talli: And life is full of them, isn't it?

    AchingHope: Mad at books? Haha! You haven't been beating them up again have you?

    Creepy: I too wish I was so lucky. I know how you feel.

    B: Yeah. Head held high and all that! :)

    Mary: Me too. Especially Nick Hornby! He uses adverbs like they're going out of fashion.

    Caledonia: Yeah that's what gets me the most. When it's a debut!

  25. It is soooo frustrating. I get deflated and then think, oh pah, I will do it my way. By the time I finish, the rules would have changed back to my favour, and I will have done it right! LOL

  26. *ahem* Not too badly. Especially cause I'm reading library books, and those librarians don't like it when I throw their books across the room in a fit.

  27. I think the best advice is Never say Never! Just write the story and if you need a prologue, adverbs, backstory, just do it! A great story is a great story. Trust me... if there were a tried & true easy formula for it, we would all be millionaire writers by now.


“I'm using my art to comment on what I see. You don't have to agree with it.” ~John Mellencamp

“Allowing an unimportant mistake to pass without comment is a wonderful social grace” ~Judith S. Marin

“I don't ever try to make a serious social comment.” ~Paul McCartney

“I'd make a comment at a meeting and nobody would even acknowledge me. Then some man would say the same thing and they'd all nod.” ~Charlotte Bunch

“Probably what my comment meant was that I don't care about the circumstances if I can tell the truth.” ~Sally Kirkland

“We're not going to pay attention to the silliness and the petty comments. And quite frankly, women have joined me in this effort, and so it's not about appearances. It's about effectiveness.” ~Katherine Harris