#MondayBlog The Rules of Writing?

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Don’t use prologues.

Don’t write multiple points of view.

Don’t write in the first person.

Don’t write in present tense.

Don’t write in passive voice.

Don’t head-hop.

Don’t use adverbs.

Show don’t tell.

Sound familiar? These are just a handful of the Rules of Writing. There are more. Many. Many more.

But no need to fear—rules are good things created in part to establish order and organization, maintain quality and maximum outcomes, and define best practices.

They’re also made to be broken.

I’m not saying anyone should write Rebel across their forehead and pen a prologue filled with adverbs. I’m saying you need to know when to break the rules, and moderation is always key.

If you want to include a prologue, go ahead. Prologues can be effective, giving just enough details to set-up the story and prime readers. They should never be info-dumps, burdening readers with information they’re supposed to carry and remember throughout the book.  That’s what plots are for and story details should be shared and shown to readers as the story unfolds.

If your prologue is full of plot points, skip it.

The debate over POVs (points of view) will never end. Some prefer one POV—the protagonist, while others feel the protagonist and the antagonist should be heard from. Still, in genres like romance, POVs of the hero and heroine are popular.

But, it’s the writer who gets to decide the POV of their story, and it should be compelling, always moving the story forward.

A writer once lamented she struggled halfway through her first draft before she realized she had the wrong character telling the story. With a different character’s POV, the story flowed, and in her words, “made so much more sense.”

Multiple POVs can be troublesome and too often lead to head-hopping—multiple POVs in the same scene or chapter.

And that will open up a brand new can of worms.

Some say never, ever, ever hop heads. It’s confusing to the readers and weakens the story.

The opposing teams say it can be done as long as the reader is cued in such a way to know the POV is about to change.

And again, from books and blogs I’ve read and chats I’ve sat in on, head-hopping appears to occur often and be acceptable in the romance genre.

Case in point—author Nora Roberts is a notorious head-hopper who sells books in the millions. Anyone complaining about her books being confusing?

In the end, the issue of head-hopping is between writers and their editors, because they don’t care for it and will point it out.

If you didn’t know any better (like me) or drifted into head-hopping by mistake, correct it and move on.

If it was intentional, be prepared for a fight. You’re not Nora Roberts.

Speaking of famous authors, Stephen King says, “the road to hell is paved with adverbs,” so don’t use them… ever, and who’s going to argue with Stephen King?

Well, J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer might. And William Golding definitely would… while waving his Nobel Prize for literature in your face.

I believe most writers will agree adverbs weaken writing. You can prove it to yourself by writing a paragraph laced with adverbs like, quickly, silently, suddenly, really, and only. Then write the same paragraph replacing adverbs with strong active verbs. There’s no question the second paragraph will be clearer and more compelling… and less exhausting.

Yes, adverbs are considered weak words, but all words have power if used correctly. Books like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Twilight Saga, and Lord of the Flies are still leaving bookstore shelves—adverbs and all.

Again, the problem with the Rules of Writing is all too often you don’t know you’re breaking them until you do. So, it’s in any writer’s best interest to make learning an active part of their writing journey. We’ll never know it all, but it’s better to know when you’re breaking the rules… so you can high-five your inner rebel and enjoy it.

5 Basic Tips on Staying Focused When Writing a Book – Guest Post…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

hhe11o

To be able to work with sheer dedication, a writer needs the ability to fully concentrate and stay focused at all times. Maintaining your focus for sustained periods can be a difficult task to do. Psychologists suggest a powerful form of concentration for writers called ‘flow’. This refers to an individual fully engaging in the task they are doing. For a writer, ‘flowing’ concentration is essential to write pieces with utmost fluency.

Inability to concentrate can be fruitless, especially for a writer. In order to make each day productive, writers must employ these 5 basic tips to stay focused on work and exercise their minds for better concentration:

Stick to the Schedule

The type of schedule you keep doesn’t matter as long as it caters to your needs and helps dedicate time to your book on a regular basis. If you’re not experienced in writing projects, avoid scheduling as you…

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Using Body Language in Your Novel, Part Two—Eyes, Pupils, & Eyebrows

The eyes have it! 😉

Writers After Dark

Body language part two the eyesThey say that our eyes are the “windows to the soul.” Isn’t that sweet? Yes, yes it is. Which is why this would be a fantastic place to practice some poetry, but instead, how about we exploit this little tidbit to benefit our writerly lives? Let’s explore the eyes—in the art of using body language in fiction.

It’s undeniable that our eyes are very special, but what exactly do we see when we stare into someone’s eyes? Information about their emotional state, that’s what. Can you imagine what damage this type of knowledge can do in the wrong hands? Oh boy!

For the villains, they can manipulate, hurt, and deceive. For the heroes, they can help, console, or protect. OR vice versa! Hey, it’s not mutually exclusive, and that’s the beauty. As the reader, you can get an insight on the emotional turmoil they’re all going through. And as the…

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The First Rule for Writing a Modern Novel

A Writer's Path

by Lynne Stringer

You may not know it but there are rules for writing a modern novel. Now, every good rule needs to be broken at some point but is it a good idea to say that all rules should be ignored because writing is a creative exercise?

I don’t think so but I think there are times and places for them and so I’m going to tackle each one in turn. Here’s the first:

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5 tips for New Writers

A Writer's Path

by S. T. Sanchez

  1. Don’t be afraid to re-write

Writing isn’t always the simplest to do.  Inspiration doesn’t always strike at the right time.  Whether you are a few chapters in or almost finished, if you need to rewrite go back and do it!  You want your novel to be perfect.  If you need to fix something, no matter how much work it is going to take, DO IT!  Your book will be better because of it.

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Writing (Un)Awkward Romantic Scenes

Love this post! 😉

A Writer's Path

by Sara Butler Zalesky

**Warning – adult situations and language and potential spoilers for the novel Wheeler, now available on Amazon Kindle.**

I’ve been hesitant to give Wheeler to friends and family or even tell my coworkers I wrote a novel. Why? Like the protagonist, Loren Mackenzie, I only let people see what I want them to see. I keep my cards close to the vest. I’m a Scorpio, it’s who I am.

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Power Your Book Revisions by Using Macros

Powerful time saver! 👍

Writers After Dark

Revisions are a critical step in the writing process, but let’s face it, they can also just suck all the joy out of writing. Anything that can help speed up the process and increase focus is a good thing.

One of my favorite tools is Macros.

Unfortunately, like many writers, I was a master of words but never really mastered Word. I’ve wasted a lot of time doing things the long way.

A few years ago, however, I discovered Macros and they changed the speed, focus, and effectiveness of my revision process.

In short, I’m a better writer because of them.

Now before you start to think I’m gonna unload some complicated programming How-To on you and zone out, be assured I’m not.

A Macro is a simple program script that tells your Word Document to do “something.” In our case, it’s going to highlight words that we should consider…

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How to “Show, Don’t Tell”

A Writer's Path

by Chrys Cymri

I’m still getting used to the life of a self-published author, particularly in this age of Amazon and customer reviews. Authors are advised that books need to have reviews, the more reviews the better, even those which are not entirely positive.

In order to obtain those reviews, I’ve been involved in various ‘review exchanges.’ I read one writer’s book and post a review, and s/he does the same with one of mine. Better yet are the non-reciprocal reviews set up by groups on Goodreads, in which people sign up for a review round and the moderator ensures that you are not reviewing the work of someone who is reading your book. This is to ensure complete honesty.

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Why Realism is Essential

Jed Herne: Writer

If your story lacks realism, readers will be disappointed.

Why? Well, good novels encourage readers to suspend their disbelief; to believe that the story is real, even though it’s obviously fiction. Without realism, readers will find it hard to think your story is, well, real.

Now, coming from a guy whose most recent story was about spaceships, you’re probably a little confused. Does the need for realism impede you from writing about anything you can’t see or experience?

The answer, of course, is no. Stories about aliens, superheros, or medieval vampires can all be 100% realistic, because realism isn’t about stories being true to our world. It’s about stories being true to themselves.

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Creative Writing vs Writing as Therapy

A Writer's Path

by Sara Kopeczky

I had a rough childhood and adolescence (but hey, who hadn’t?), and often times found consolation in making up stories. I would write short, gothic stories with monsters and witches that helped me cope with my everyday issues. Later on, when I became more serious about my writing, I realized that creative writing is so different from writing to soothe your soul, because you have a responsibility towards your readers (and towards yourself) to deliver something a bit more concise than fumbling notes about how your dad doesn’t love you and all the other kids are stupid. Here are some of the main differences between creative writing and therapeutic writing:

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