Thursday, April 1

Boo Ya, Rule Breaker On the Loose

Okay, so from the title of this post, you probably picked up on at least one of three things:
  1. I'm a little insane.
  2. This blog post is going to be about breaking rules.
  3. I didn't get near enough sleep last night (about 4.5 hours, actually).
Anyway, last night I began a book, which for the moment, will go unnamed. I will end up doing a book review for it since I think it's so fantastic and you'll figure it out then, but for right now I wont say who it is.
While reading this book, I became aware of several things. This author breaks the "writing rules" left, right, and center and I LOVE HER FOR IT! Ooo, you now know the author is a girl (big shocker, since it's a historical romance novel).
Here are some things I've caught:
  • She has buried dialogue. Lots. And it works. So get over it, suckahs.
  • She doesn't always say the name of the character speaking, and it works. So there.
  • She did not introduce the hero OR the heroine in the first 10 pages of the novel. *smirking*
  • When she did introduce the hero and heroine to the novel, they did not meet right away and certainly did not become intimate until much later.
  • She seems to love adverbs, but I don't think it's overdone. HOWEVER, I know for a fact that if some of my writer friends read her book to critique it, they'd be circling every single "ly" word.
  • She does NOT describe every bloody facial expression. She does say things like "He gave her a frustrated look" without describing the crap out of that look.
  • She says things like "He nodded IN AGREEMENT." This rule isn't a well-known one, but I have heard from several people not to use "in" types of phrases. Like, "in understanding" etc...
Alright, I think you're getting the picture. Not only is this author a favourite of mine--she's freaking fantastic--but she's successful. Don't believe me? She's on the NYT bestseller list right now and has been before. And will be again.
So there you go guys, proof right there that you don't need to worry about every little rule out there-- or even the big ones!
Just write the story.


  1. You are being such a writing rebel this week and it is AWESOME. So true. It's way too easy to get caught up in mechanics - omg, too many adverbs! omg, buried dialogue or passive voice! - but I come across successful authors who make it work. Worrying too much about the little details is bleeding the story dry. Great post, Natalie!

  2. Awesome post. A famous writer friend of mine once told me to "never follow a rule of a cliff." And it's so true! Just because someone says you shouldn't, doesn't mean you can't or that it won't work. As long as it's beautifully written and grabs your attention and you don't go overboard, what does it matter that you use an exclamation point or an -ly adverb?

    Thanks for posting this and reminding me(us) that there's an exception to every rule and nothing is absolute.

  3. I hear you with those famous historical authors, they break ALL the rules. Unfortunately I think I'll have to play by the rules until I get published, get a bazillion fans and then I can write whatever I want.

  4. I'm playing by most of the rules for the second pass in, mostly to prove to myself I know what most of the "rules" are. All bets are off when I go in for the third pass. I'll follow the ones which make sense in the work and disregard the ones which don't. And be prepared to ignore the circles I'll get :)

    Your post is timely, Natalie. I'm suffering from treading in mental quicksand and this is a good picker-upper.

  5. Julie- Haha thanks. I guess I'm on a "don't tell me what to do" kick. I agree. There is a time and a place for panicking over these rules, but I think we should just write and decide if we want to "fix" it later.

    Jsaouders- Thanks!I agree 100%. A lot of the time, I think the rules are for the novice writers, who have no idea where to start or what to do *shrugs* You're welcome =) I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    Anne- Lol! This writer's first book was filled with these same things too, though. So don't just think it's because she's popular and can do whatever she wants now. Sometimes it just works and everything flows =)

    Kelly- Haha, I don't envy you. I know most of the rules and I cont seem to break them for the most part, they just annoy me is all. YES! That is a very important part to remember. Just because someone circles it does not mean it needs to change. I'm glad I helped you out =)

  6. I heart Rule Breakers! What a great post.

    Most of my favorite books/authors break a lot of rules. Especially my most recently added favorite author. And she's had a list of bestsellers--starting in the late 80's!

  7. Awesome post!!!!! I couldn't agree more, don't worry about all the rules to follow, write the story and keep the inspiration going, the book will sell itself even with all the rule breaking!

  8. Exactly. Just write a great story. It's easy to look past "rules" if it's great.

  9. No more rules! They stifle creativity and create cookie-cutter stories.

  10. Sometimes being ignorant of the so-called a blessing! :)

  11. Well said Natalie! It seems like every time I read a book, I find that the author has broken just about every rule out there. That's why I'm not stressing out over the rules anymore:)

  12. First off... Squee! I know what book you're talking about and it was awesome. =o)

    Eh, you know my thoughts on rules. Keep the major ones so your readers can understand what you're saying and then use what works for the story. Your beta readers will let you know what actually doesn't work.

  13. Tara- Haha thanks! Yep, most of my favourite authors break the rules all the time.

    Jen- Thanks! I agree =)

    Karen- Exactly!!

    Jennifer- Yep! I agree 100%.

    DL- Haha yes it would be.

    Mel- Good! Just write your fantastic story =)

    B.E.- Haha shh! LOL! But I agree, it was one of my favourite medieval romances ever! I mean, I've adored all of her books, but somehow she managed to show up her last 6 with this one.

    Yerrp, I agree =)

  14. You know I'm one of those nitpicky critters who points out all these things, lol. But I agree with you. Sometimes you have to break the rules.

    I think someone once said that u have to know the rules before you break them and I think that's true. And it seems once someone becomes "big", they break rules all over the place. (I hear my fellow romance writers site Nora Roberts for that all the time.)

    I just try to stick to the main rules as much as I can until I get published. I don't want to give an agent or editor ANY reason to dismiss me. :) Yes, I'm paranoid.

  15. Roni- And being a nitpicky critter is fine =) Trust me, when I give a critique I do the same thing. I'm just tired of people thinking they HAVE to follow the rules 24/7.

    I dont blame you for sticking to the rules. I do for all the big ones, but I'll still sneak some badass in there too ;)


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