Wednesday, November 3, 2010

When editing, over critting, and nerves take over your story.

I've made it a personal mission of mine to read at least a few books a month. As a writer, it keeps the creative juices flowing. But this month I realized that each book that I read broke one or many of the rules. This is a common thing for sure as part of learning the rules is knowing when to break them. I read one book where the author used the verb "was" twenty times on one page. Yikes! I thought, at first, but then I realized that I didn't even notice it in the first pass. Want to know why? Because the story flowed so incredibly well that I didn't care. It was quite the epiphany for me and in turn I have created a few rules for myself.

1. Story trumps rules, always. If it works, it works. Throwing in a bunch of strong verbs can read as very unnatural.

2. Voice trumps rules, sometimes. You have to stay true to your character. If that word or phrase is voice specific, I say keep it.

I find that over editing, over critting, and nerves in general can really detract from the story-telling aspect of a story. Do you agree?What are your rules or rather, rules-that-break rules?


  1. I'm probably being a little repetitive here, but all rules aren't set in stone and can be broken.
    Great post. Sometimes you just have to let the muse free and not restrain her so much with the rules!

  2. Hi Lydia, thanks for stopping by and yes, exactly! Interesting that writing is an art form, yet there are soooo many rules applied to it.

  3. haha you know me, I love my 'ly' words :-) ... but seriously, I think this is a great epiphany! I'm thinking about some of my favourite books, and it's definitely the voice that wins me over in the end. I'm just aiming to write a story that I would want to read, and I'm hoping I pull it off, even if I have a few 'ly's in there!

    I don't do this that often, but I find it also helps to read out loud when I'm revising (for the purpose of catching awkward sentences etc.). I read that Carrie Ryan does that with her drafts, and hey, her books are amazing! Sometimes, a sentence can look awesome and shiny on paper, and 100% 'right', but when you hear it spoken you realize how bad it sounds!