Thursday, May 24, 2012

Only When You Are Amazing, Can You Break The Rules

I was reading some Hemingway recently and it got me thinking about a common statement I hear authors say all of the time. When an editor or agent critiques someone on a strategy the author used that didn't quite work, such a head-hopping, the author says, "but [fill in the blank] does it. Yes they do, and they have earned the right to do it.

Hemingway, in particular understood grammar and story structure. He knew what made a story work and how to craft a dialogue to convey a particular meaning and message. He knew it well enough that he was able to use many of these strategies, technically in an incorrect fashion, but still making it work.

I understand that we do say, time and time again that there are no rules out there when it comes to writing. We talk more about suggestions and recommendations. With that said, for many authors out there, we need to stick to the basics. This means, in all likelihood, not breaking the rules.

I would also add that we do things in a story because that strategy works in that given context and that given situation. There is a reason why another author did something in their story and why that approach may not always work for your story.

Am I saying to only write in one prescribed fashion? Absolutely not. I am also not saying that only the established authors have a right to break the rules. What I am saying is that your writing needs to happen organically. You need to know why that strategy worked for the other author and really determine if it works best in your situation.