W.W.Y.W.T.K (Melissa Robbins)

What writing rule do I break? But I don’t break rules. I follow them or at least I try. I know there are several unwritten romance rules that I break often.

There is one rule that drives me crazy, Write What You Know. Really? How restrictive is that? Oh sure if you are a real cop or news reporter, you write what you know and your characters can be cops or news reporters. I write mysteries. I don’t go around killing people and write what I know! I’m also a stay at home mom who lives in KS. There’s a turn pager for you.

I read an author years ago, I wish I could remember who wrote it, but she or he said, “Don’t write what you know. Write what you WANT to know.” This makes perfect sense. I write stories set in WW2. I didn’t live during that time, but others did. Research. Books. The Library. People. The Internet (be careful with that one). It’s all there for you to learn. My current manuscript is about a fourteen year old boy who wants to fly during WW2. I’m not a boy, not a pilot (how I want to be though!), but I can learn from other who do know.

I can understand the theory behind Write What You Know. Writing takes a lot of research and reading. I guess I do Write What I Know since I rock World War Two questions now in trivia games. 

One Writing Rule I Break (Kate O'Hara)

Kate asked me to write her blog as she is in the hospital and unable to do so. We talked about the topic and she gave me some insight into her writing style, which I would like to share.

Many writing books tell the writer to write their story, set it aside for a time – four weeks or longer, depending how long the writer’s normal life or another projects gets in their way. Then the writer should re-read their novel and start the rewriting process (looking for typos, redundant words, tightening the story – you know the drill). If you know Kate, even a little, you know she has her own formula, as most of us do.

Here is what she does. After reading her stories, I must say she does it very well. She edits every day what she previously wrote. There is a dual purpose to her method; one is to get her head around the story and remember where she left off, second is to get her mind on to the next scene or chapter of her story. When the final pages are written, she edits them the next day, and the story is ready for publication.

I personally find it interesting Kate writes her stories in first person. The stories are rich in everyday life. The main character and the dialogue gives each character in the story added dimension by creating a complex person. I have enjoyed reading all her stories.

Louise Z. Pelzl


At some point in time I probably have broken every rule there is in the writing world. Everyone you talk to knows this rule or that rule. They are always sure to point them out. Then of course, someone says “Yes, but Nora Roberts breaks that rule all the time.” Then someone says “When you are as successful as she is. You can do it too.” That usually ends the conversation fairly quickly.

There are rules regarding margins and line spacing most writers adhere to. I know I do. The creative side of writing is where there is more room to look past the rules because after all they do change with the times. When I started learning the craft of writing, the writer had to have two spaces after the end of a sentence. Then one day, if by magic, the rule changed to only one space. The change wasn’t announced unless you went to a writers’ meeting and someone said “Did you know…”

I try my best to tell my story in a concise and interesting manner. I always have too many commas. Don’t you know – my writing friends call me the comma queen. No I don’t have a crown – just a delete button. Of course it is interesting and amazing, two people can read the same page and put commas in different places.

If I worried about all the writing rules I have heard or read about, I would never get something down on paper. So I write my material, rewrite, and rewrite until I think it has a good flow or what I call a good rhythm to it. Sometimes I take out words, put more in, and usually remove some commas. And in truth, now that I am thinking about it, I don’t think about writing rules when I write. I just tell my story. Because after all rules are made to be broken. Aren’t they!?!?!

 Z. Minor
Author of Historical Romantic & Contemporary Suspense Novels

Writing Rules I Break (Kathy Pritchett)

Our suggested theme for the month is “the one writing rule I break.” I thought about it, and I break them all, especially the one “Write consistently every day.” Life and the necessity of making a living intervene.

So, what the heck, I’ll break another rule. Instead of utilizing the prompt, I’ll expand on the suggestion I made at the last meeting: that a great story or novel should be as carefully orchestrated as a well-written, well-arranged, well-performed song.

As an example, listen to Garth Brooks’ “The Thunder Rolls.” http://en.musicplayon.com/play?v=102875 Written by Garth and Pat Alger, the song opens with just the gentle rolling sound of thunder from an incoming thunderstorm. Yet the sound creates tension; you know more is coming. Then a single guitar picks up a simple melody. The story immediately jumps into the setup: time, setting, senses, foreshadowing (There’s a storm movin’ in), then the hook that gives a hint of the conflict to come (He’s headin’ back from somewhere That he never should have been).

With foreshadowing, the thematic continuity appears: the thunder rolls, repeated, with music going downscale. The opposing main character appears in the second part of the first verse creating a clear character picture, with further foreshadowing of the conflict (Hopin’ she’s not right Prayin' it's the weather That's kept him out all night). Both characters are caught in the beginning of a thunderstorm, indicating the same timeframe, symbolizing the impending conflict.

The music rises to a crescendo in the chorus, hinting at the heart of the conflict and the level it will achieve. (the lightnin' strikes, Another love grows cold On a sleepless night. As the storm blows on Out of control Deep in her heart The thunder rolls).

The second verse brings the conflict. The husband arrives home, the wife is overjoyed. Just when you think the issue is settled (Thankful he’s alive), a complication arises (But on the wind and rain A strange new perfume blows). The lightning flashing in her eyes continues the analogy of a stormy relationship. You just know, due to the foreshadowing, that the conflict isn’t over. The chorus repeats, with more thunder, holding us in suspense as to the nature and outcome of the conflict.

The commercial version of the song ends here (with a VERY long guitar riff). However, at the urging of Tanya Tucker’s producer, Garth and Company wrote a third verse that is seldom heard, but completes the conflict and ends the story. Or at least lets us know what the final conflict will be. Tucker recorded the song, but never released it, so Garth did. This is the version of the song Garth usually performs in concert. The video has also raised funds for victims of domestic violence.
In this case, the artist controlled every aspect of the story (characters, theme, conflict, pacing, setting) just as writers should. This is where careful plotting and rewriting come in, to ensure that every word pushes readers into the story we want them to feel.

 “The Thunder Rolls”
Three thirty in the morning
Not a soul in sight
The city's lookin' like a ghost town
On a moonless summer night
Raindrops on the windshield
There's a storm movin' in
He's headin' back from somewhere
That he never should have been
And the thunder rolls
And the thunder rolls

Every light is burnin'
In a house across town
She's pacin' by the telephone
In her faded flannel gown
Askin' for miracle
Hopin' she's not right
Prayin' it's the weather
That's kept him out all night
And the thunder rolls
And the thunder rolls

The thunder rolls
And the lightnin' strikes
Another love grows cold
On a sleepless night
As the storm blows on
Out of control
Deep in her heart
The thunder rolls

She's waitin' by the window
When he pulls into the drive
She rushes out to hold him
Thankful he's alive
But on the wind and rain
A strange new perfume blows
And the lightnin' flashes in her eyes
And he knows that she knows
And the thunder rolls
And the thunder rolls

The thunder rolls
And the lightnin' strikes
Another love grows cold
On a sleepless night
As the storm blows on
Out of control
Deep in her heart
The thunder rolls

The not always heard last verse:
She runs back down the hallway and through the bedroom door
She reaches for the pistol kept in the dresser drawer
Tells the lady in the mirror he won't do this again
'Cause tonight will be the last time, she'll wonder where he's been

Other songs, particularly ballads, follow the same pattern. Which of your favorite songs do? Or which ones illustrate other techniques?

One writing rule you break by J Vincent

Breaking a rule presumes one knows the rules. When I began writing I knew English grammar and the fundamentals of research and for writing term papers.  But fiction writing--not so much.  The one fiction story I wrote for a college English class received a “C.” I was told writing fiction would never be for me. At the time I was not interested in writing fiction but chafed at the grade on a story I had written, rewritten, struggled with and rewrote again.  That teacher broke a rule I’ve always held dear: NEVER tell someone, including yourself, that you can’t.  ALWAYS tell them and yourself you can. I reaped the rewards of this rule with the students I taught when they were successful in achieving a goal they didn’t think they could. I reaped it for myself when my books were published.
The first story I wrote was a medieval mystery romance in a fictional setting. I’m sure someone cognizant of writing “rules” would find I broke many if they read it.  That particular story that drove me rather than the other way around.  I had three children under seven at the time and a husband going to night classes who left before dawn and came home after ten.  Nap time (for the kids) and after bedtime was the only time I could write and I did it reluctantly.  Cut the characters would not let me rest unless I wrote.  Is that a rule?--Always write when characters push you to do so? I wrote in secret, telling no one.  After all who was I to think I could write a novel?  I had been told I never would do it or at least not do it well.

But I digress and I still haven’t come up with a rule to break. After I finished that first novel another story came to mind and again characters drove me. I submitted that second work to a publisher using what I found in the Writer’s Market.  It sold. Even after a dozen published books I still have to admit I didn’t know any writers rules.

When I joined WARA and listened to Rox and Pat and others I really felt the writing idiot. What they said made sense and I absorbed some of it. But when push came to shove so to speak, I found writing rules differ writer by writer. Or rather what I was willing to accept as a must follow rule was different than some. When I first read this topic I thought, “never plagiarize” but decided that wasn’t really what the topic meant. So help me here.  Give me some writer’s rules so I can decide which one’s I might be breaking.