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Monday, April 30, 2007

Writing With Abandon

I think rules and guidelines are great things. Without them, we'd have chaos. Just think of driving. Stop signs mean...stop. Green lights...go. Speed limit signs tell us how fast to drive (unless you're driving on 93 outside Boston and you just try to keep up with the traffic. Trust me, don't look at the speedometer too much).

Lately I've been thinking of how sometimes we can rule and guideline our writing into the ground. Don't get me wrong. Publisher have guidelines. Writing "rules" exist. They have a purpose. When I was a freshman art major, some of my classmates balked at still life and technique. But what our professors tried to drill into us was that there were basics we had to master before we could create our work of genius.

Guidelines and rules are always countered by passion. Write your cozy. Write your romantic suspense. Write a knuckle-whitening thriller. But don't lose your passion for what you write in an effort to get your foot in the proverbial door.

Because what happens is this: We can stand on our heads to force our stories to fit a certain mold, and that squelches our emerging voice. Our stories flatten, and let's face it, we look like we're "trying."

I've seen master wordsmiths work, and their facile use of technique makes story crafting look easy. What I believe they've learned is the rules and guidelines. The basics are so ingrained that the story comes forth intuitively. Not without work, but working smarter...not harder. One of my critique partners has made that something of a motto lately, and it's worth considering.

Stop losing sleep while you're crafting your WIP. Will the editor like it? Will I fall on my face? LOVE your story. WRITE with abandon. You might be pleasantly surprised to learn your technique has improved along the way. If not, you'll learn to delete. Add. Develop. Subtract. Cut entire scenes--for the sake of a solid story. And passion will still shine through.


Anonymous Chanda said...

Love this!

8:09 AM  

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