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August 22, 2011


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Oh, thanks for this post today! I've tried to wean myself from reading "rules." I want to improve, really I do, but reading about what I should be doing while actively trying to write is crazy-making for me. Absolutely crazy-making.

And last week, I started a new story, first-person, present tense, and I've been having so, SO much fun with it, only to discover first-person present-tense is officially Frowned Upon and probably won't sell. To which I say, pbfffft. If I'm not excited about the writing, why write? And I can only hope to transmit some of that excitement into the story, as you say.

Donna Cummings

Ruthie, that's so exciting about your new story. And I think that's what bothers me sometimes about the rules -- how many wonderful stories get squelched because they don't follow the currently accepted norm?

I think it's important to have fun with writing, and with your stories. We learn so much from trying new things--which could spark an idea for something else. . .So get to work on that story!


Oh wow I totally agree! I try to save this panic mode for the editing, which is why I hate editing so much. When I'm writing, I drown all of it out and just write. But when I'm editing, I worry my writing sucks so much I'm tempted to send it to the recycle bin on my desktop.

It's very frustrating.

Especially when I read reader-reviews of other books who complain about the narrative style or the lack of continuity. It makes me panic that I'm going to get a similar review.

I have to remind myself I can't fix everything in my story, and that's why they have these wonderful people called editors :)

But you really can go insane with doubt lol.

Great article, hope you are feeling better about your work <3


Donna Cummings

@SmithEClaire -- yes, the editing phase can definitely bring out the doubt monsters, because in the final stages of the book, we're trying to incorporate everything we know about writing.

And every time I read a review or a tweet about what ONE reader dislikes, I'm convinced MY book has that problem and I need to fix it. LOL

I'm feeling good about my stories at the moment. But we'll see how things are tomorrow when I'm in edit mode. LOL


"And every time I read a review or a tweet about what ONE reader dislikes, I'm convinced MY book has that problem and I need to fix it. LOL"

EXACTLY. It's actually the only thing (more or less the only thing) that drives me crazy about Twitter. I am compelled to keep clicking on links that lead me to advice/wisdom that is all well and good, but it makes my heart pound and injects poison into my writing mojo. No good.

Donna Cummings

Ruthie, I'm so glad I'm not the only one. LOL All of that advice can really paralyze the creativity, but somehow it's so hard to look away! Sometimes it can seem like we're trying to find the holy grail of writing advice, that one thing that will make everything click into place, not realizing each story we write needs something different than the last one did. :)


If you could write a story by 'the rules' then in principle it should be possible to construct a computer program to write stories, with just a little input from the author concerning plot, period, trope, names etc.

Just imagine what Microsoft might do for the publishing industry!

In case anyone is skeptical, I would comment that One form of modern painting allows paint to drip onto the canvas from a height. It generates interesting patterns which sell for hundreds of pounds when done by a famous artist like Jackson Pollock. Interestingly, the mathematician Ian Stuart has now written a computer code, based on fractals, which produces images that look just like Pollack's. No-one pays much money for them though!

Computers use rule based algorithms and I am pretty sure that our minds are more complex than any rule based machine that we could conceivably construct. So I say concentrate on the things that human creativity does best and stuff the rules if they get in the way.

Donna, I think I just agreed with you! *smile*

Donna Cummings

Q, what an intriguing notion -- a computer-based novel-writing program. And yet, from what you described with the paintings derived from computer code, that missing element of the writer's blood/sweat/tears/soul makes all the difference.

Which is VERY comforting, at least to this writer. :) I guess those things that make writing irksome at times is also the most essential aspect of the story.

I'm definitely with you on telling the rules to get lost if they get in the way. :) They aren't allowed to restrict the story.

And I loved watching you agree with me. LOL It was a beautiful thing. :)

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