The writing rules I break constantly...and why you should consider breaking some too!
Updated: Sep 23
I was a successful writer for some time before becoming a novelist. By successful I mean that I was being paid money to write things, which led me to believe that I was, in fact, good at it. I therefore did not feel the need to do any research on how one goes about writing a novel. And it's a good thing too, because otherwise I probably never would have written one! As it turns out, there are numerous WRITING RULES that one is, apparently, supposed to adhere to when attempting to write a book. Unfortunately, though, several of these rules simply don't work for me. Here are some examples:
Rule 1: You should complete the outline of your book (and preferably the entire series) before writing anything.
If I had adhered to this rule, I would still be staring at an empty computer screen years after deciding to write a book. Never mind an outline, I didn't even have a geographical location or historical time period when I wrote my first scenes, which included characters that I referred to as X and Y. But only once I had written those first few scenes did I start believing that I could write a novel at all. And after that, I wrote scenes as the inspiration came, going back and forth in the manuscript as the story unfolded, with parts of the storyline as surprising to me as any potential readers. I couldn't have come up with an outline if I'd tried, because I simply don't think that way.
Rule 2: You should complete a draft of the entire manuscript before doing any editing.
This is also something that doesn't work for me at all, and never has. I edit as I write, fiddling here and there and going back and forth as I write each section. That's how I've written for as long as I can remember. I simply don't do draft, version 1, version 2, etc. The entire manuscript is a work in progress until I'm happy with it. That's what works for me. I'm not the only writer who daringly breaks a few rules here and there, though. The hugely successful Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series of books and my inspiration, doesn't do drafts and outlines either, so I'm in good company!
As for other writing rules? I stick to some and discard others, which is exactly the advice that I would give to other aspiring novelists. Do whatever works for you. There's no single approach to writing a good book!
While you're contemplating how to write your bestseller, vote here for Under the Emerald Sky for cover of the month in the April AllAuthor contest.
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by Juliane Weber (@Writer_JW) 7 April 2021 [subscribe on the main blog page]
About Juliane Weber
Juliane is a scientist, turned medical writer, turned novelist. Her debut historical novel, Under the Emerald Sky, is the first book in The Irish Fortune Series, which is set in 19th century Ireland around the time of the Great Famine.
He's come to Ireland to escape his past. She's trying to run from her future.