Give Yourself Permission to Break These 3 Writing Rules: Guest post by Desiree from Reedsy

Hello everyone!

Today I have at my blog a special guest, Desiree Joy Villena who is a writer with Reedsy, a service for authors. She has written many posts about writing and publishing for Write To Done, The Write Life, Electric Literature, and many more sites in the publishing industry. She has a fantastic range of resources to impart and is helpful enough to share some of that knowledge here.

So here’s a guest post related to writing which many of you will find very, very useful. Over to Desiree and her topic for today that is:

Give Yourself Permission to Break These 3 Writing Rules:

Are you chipping away at a manuscript? Chances are, you’re already looking forward to hitting the period key for the final time and typing out a triumphant, all-caps “THE END”. But whether you’re plotting to take Kindle Direct Publishing by storm or wondering when to start putting out feelers for an agent, it’s important not to get too ahead of yourself. After all, you can’t get published until you’ve got an actual book in hand.

If you’re working on a book, you probably enjoy writing. But getting a manuscript over the finish line can still feel like a stressful, nerve-wracking process. With so many writing rules you’re supposed to follow, it’s hard not to find yourself freezing up on occasion. Can you even type out so much as a sentence without flouting some legendary writer’s oft-repeated advice?

Write for yourself… but keep an eye on the market.

Paint a picture with your words… but don’t make it purple.

Choose strong, precise verbs… unless they’re used in place of “said”.

With so many contradictory rules floating around, you might find yourself overthinking every word you type — making it impossible to finish (let alone publish) your book. Luckily, you don’t have to follow every piece of advice to craft a killer story. In fact, here are three writing rules you should feel free to break.

1. Write from an outline
Some authors swear by outlines. But if you’re not one of them, don’t feel like you have to fake it. If it goes against your natural bend towards spontaneity, you might end up forcing your plot down an unnatural direction, leaving you with stilted prose and cardboard characters.

Also, you might very well start from an outline, only find yourself diverging from it as you go from bare-bones idea to a fleshed-out story. Your characters, after all, will change as you write them. Feel free to explore the tantalizing new paths they’ll inevitably want to drag you down, even if you end up throwing your old outline in the dustbin.

2. Write every day
Everyone has off days, and it can be instructive to work through them. But if you consistently force yourself to write when you’re really, really not feeling it, you’ll likely exhaust yourself without even producing much usable prose. The last thing you want is for writing to feel like a chore. Sure, it’s work, but it should be joyful work.

The next time you find yourself well and truly stuck, give yourself permission to do something else. You don’t even have to step away from your manuscript entirely — after all, finishing a book involves so much more than just the actual writing. If drafting feels like pulling teeth, try spending the day talking yourself through a complicated plot point, or diving into some research for an upcoming scene. And most importantly, don’t make yourself feel guilty about it!
3. Write what you know
This one’s probably the most commonly cited writing rule of all, but that doesn’t mean you should live and die by it. At the very least, you can interpret it elastically.

Take it from Ursula K. Le Guin, the legendary writer of sci-fi and fantasy. Now known for her wildly original tales of spaceflight and wizardry, she once got the usual advice: write what you know. And what did Le Guin have to say about that? “I think it’s a very good rule and have always obeyed it. I write about imaginary countries, alien societies on other planets, dragons, wizards, the Napa Valley in 22002. I know these things. I know them better than anybody else possibly could, so it’s my duty to testify about them.”

So change that rule to, Don’t write what you know — write what you want to know. Or maybe just remind yourself that you know more than you think. Once you give your imagination permission to roam, you’ll be able to write your book in the spirit of joyful discovery.

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A big thank you, Desiree, for this wonderful post which will surely benefit the writers. Most of the author community is riddled with uncertainties and hemmed in by the rules. While rules are important as they anchor the structure of writing, it is also important to know that rules should never interfere with creativity, but rather harness and guide it. Thanks for pointing this out in a lovely post.

Dear writers, have you found any rules related to writing which you feel are better cast off? Or a rule you found annoying, but had to grin and bear it? Do share in the comments! Would love to hear from you.

Guest post by Sunanda Chatterjee #TheBookClub

Today I have on my blog author Sunanda Chatterjee who’s on the blog tour of her book Sins of the Father. Here’s my question for Sunanda and her answer for the guest post for the tour.

How do you choose the setting for your book? What inspires you to make it the background for your story?

The settings of my books vary with my mood. Having lived in India and USA, most of my books feature both countries. Southern California is featured in many of my stories. But when I visit a new place, sometimes I decide to include it in my books. In Shadowed Promise, the story starts during the riots in Bombay in 1993, when I happened to be in Bombay for an exam. In Fighting for Tara, the setting is in Rajasthan (I visited years ago) and Northern California where my sister lives. The Blue House of Bishop is based in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California where I vacationed a few springs ago, and in Bhilai, India, where I grew up.

My current series is based in a fictional exclusive neighbourhood in Southern California and parts of Nashik in India where I worked for a while and where my cousin lives.

I decide the timeline based on the story. Shadowed Promise started in the 1990’s because riots had an important part to play. It traversed the 9/11 terrorist attacks and were featured in the story. Most other stories are contemporary.

What inspires me to make it a background of my story? Sometimes the story demands it, as I explained above. At other times, it might simply be a lovely sunset, or a cute bakery, or a college campus or just a picturesque street I see that sparks a scene in my mind. I’m sure other authors do the same.

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Sunanda. I agree a picturesque scene lends itself readily to interpretation in the story. When we use setting in an impressive and blending way with the story, it enhances the plot and becomes a part of the narration. Wish you the best for your book.

 

Guest post by author Rubina Ramesh #TheBookClub

Hi all, today I have on my blog, author Rubina Ramesh. She’s on the book blog tour of her latest romance novella, Destined. Let us get to know more about her through this guest post.

Hi Rubina, it’s lovely to chat with you here. My question is: This is your second romance novella. You have also written short stories. How does it feel to be a multi-genre writer?

Over to Rubina.

Dear Summerita,

Thanks for having me on your blog. Honored. A multi-genre author. Sounds so grand! Yet when I sit down to write – genre is the last thing on my mind. I love telling tales so when and how they come I pour it out. Knitted Tales was not written at a particular period of time. It took me years to string those stories. So every story has a mood pertaining to the space I was in.

I am influenced greatly by multi-genre writers too. The name that comes to mind first and foremost is Nora Roberts. Whether her Romance or her Fantasies or be it her Thriller, every one of them has her signature and yet she has readers waiting for her next. So I don’t think we should be tied to any genre, any word count. That is the beauty of being an indie author too. We have the whole world out there to explore. Just because one particular genre is selling more – I don’t have to write it. There are readers out there who are waiting to read every genre. Forget being a writer – I am a multi-genre reader too. Give me a YA fantasy to a horror to an erotica – I can read all books. From a Murakami to a Nancy Drew – I think every genre caters to one particular emotion. My Murakami soothes the soul, Nora Roberts brings out the fire in me while Enid Blyton leaves a whiff of innocence. So curbing my writing to one particular genre will be such wastage of time and talent – when we can have it all.

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Thanks for your descriptive response, Rubina. I agree that books are of many and multi fascinating genres and if you can be flexible, don’t let thoughts of genre constriction hold you back.

Lovely to have you here. All the best for your book!

Guest post by author Sudesna Ghosh #TheBookClub

Hi everyone! Today, I have the pleasure of the company of author Sudesna Ghosh. She’s on book blog tour of My Singapore Fling and stopping by to share something about her book. What an intriguing title, Sudesna! Congrats on the book release.

You can check out the book spotlight for My Singapore Fling here: summeritarhayne.com/2017/12/26/spotlight-my-singapore-fling-by-sudesna-ghosh-thebookclub/

Here’s my question for Sudesna:

The name of your book is My Singapore Fling. Do you feel today’s generation is more poised for flings rather than commitment?

Over to Sudesna:

I grew up planning to be married in my late twenties and believing in love and marriage and all that stuff. But then I got older and realised that most marriages aren’t the way that movies and books make us believe they should be. I blame Shah Rukh Khan (I love him) for giving me such high expectations. Haha.

I’ve always been a keen observer of people and relationships, and have found myself wondering what love and marriage and relationships mean to me and to others around me. The truth is, times have changes and society has changed, so people have changed expectations and behavior now. In our parents and grandparents’ time, marriage was not a choice – it was a must do – and by a certain age too. Arranged marriages were you hardly or never saw your future spouse were more of the norm. Divorce rates were lower. Why? Because a partner chosen by your family was chosen for your own good, and for the rest of your life. So love could come later and kids too, and problems of course, but ending things wasn’t an option.

We, especially women, have become more independent. I don’t mean just in terms of earning money, but independent in terms of our thought process. Nowadays, a man choosing a woman isn’t how it’s done; instead, a woman and a man choose each other. Older generations call us picky. I say that we have evolved to think for ourselves now.

In such a scenario, flings are more common. As it was mentioned in Dear Zindagi. the movie, we like to try different options until we ‘settle’. Be it multiple relationships or flings, or a mix of both, they are a given now. People are more ready to accept this and not have expectations of a ‘pure’ ‘virgin’ wife when they choose their long term partner.

Like Dipa, I did stop believing in love and relationships at the point that I wrote My Singapore Fling. Also, like Dipa, I started believing in love again. A fling or two can be a healthy gap from relationships. Maybe like a wakeup call about what you really want.

But I suspect that this generation, like the previous ones, wants to believe in love.

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Thank you for your balanced reply, Sudesna. It is true that love is irresistible and so is romance, be it any generation or even age. It was great having you here. All the best for your book!

Guestpost by Olivier Lafont, author of Snowbound #TheBookClub

Please welcome Olivier Lafont at this blog. Olivier Lafont is the author of SnowBound, a Christmas related suspense book. Let us ask him to share his thoughts on Christmas and Snowbound with us.

Me: What do you like about Christmas? Did it inspire you in writing this book?

Olivier Lafont: Christmas was certainly an inspiration for ‘Snowbound’. I grew up with all the beautiful particularities of a French Christmas, and later Christmas in India and then in America. My favourite thing about Christmas is the unique glamour it casts. There’s something about that time of year, the wintry lustre that suffuses the air, the dazzling brilliance of the lights, the exuberance of the decorations… Everyone has this really wonderful feeling of peace, harmony, community, that intensifies just at Christmas time.

There is an actual magic to Christmas, that everyone feels, a feeling of hope. Historically, mythologically, winter was synonymous with death, and because of the cold and the stillness of the season, with depression. In the northern hemisphere, especially, Christmas is also a beacon against that seasonal depression. For me this was a major reason to set ‘Snowbound’ around this holiday. The premise of ‘Snowbound’ threatens to annihilate what Christmas represents, so it’s a thematically poignant idea.

In terms of building a plot to express this thematic conflict it was an interesting idea to consider Santa Claus as a kind of dynastic role. Everyone knows who Santa Claus is and what he represents. It was fun to see, in creating my fictional version of Santa Claus, how to structure and balance out the mythical and the human elements.

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Truly there’s magic around Christmas, I agree and I’m intrigued by your concept of the thematic conflict. For readers of this post, if you want to check out Snowbound, take a look at the spotlight posted on this blog.

https://summeritarhayne.com/2017/09/26/spotlight-snowbound-by-olivier-lafont-thebookclub/

So keep reading and share what you like about what you’ve read.

Ciao!

Do you believe in vampires? Guest post by author Maya Tyler

Today I have on my blog, Maya Tyler, paranormal romance author. She’s here to share the truth about researching vampires.

Over to Maya.

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Do you believe in vampires?

Good fiction is believable, introducing the possibility of truth to the reader. How to create believable fiction? An author can use history to authenticate a fictional story. What if there is no basis in reality? My paranormal world—filled with angels, vampires, wizards—is not real and cannot be based on fact. What, other than fact, can be used to persuade a reader to believe?

Vampires are (most likely) fictitious, yet an astounding amount of information exists out there—scores of books, TV shows and movies, and websites—each source with their unique take on this fascinating creature. The sources vary—from true believer to complete skeptic—and are often contradictory. How can a vampire both burn, and walk, in the sunlight? As I looked deeper, I uncovered a compelling world rivalling even our own reality. Still, I faced the dilemma of selecting which combination of traits would make up my vampire—

Marisa’s mind raced… “This is unbelievable.”

“What?” Corgan smirked. “The little you actually know about vampires?”

“For your information, I can tell the difference between truth and the Hollywood version.”

Corgan looked at her with a raised eyebrow.

“I can,” she insisted. “No coffins, blood with healing properties, flying, super speed, super strength, immortal, mind-reading, fortune-telling, death by sun…”

— From A Vampire’s Tale

—and determining the customs, rituals, and laws of this ancient culture.

Research, imagination, and a bit of common sense led to the creation of my vampire, Corgan Halton. I approached the process conservatively, not wishing to re-invent the wheel or introduce new “unbelievable” elements, but to present a clearly defined and realistic being that inspired readers to ask “what if?” And, with that question, to take a leap of faith. Are vampires real? Believe in the impossible.

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Thanks, Maya. Believe in the impossible, indeed. Where paranormal is concerned, possibilities are endless. I’m sure readers are anxious to know something about the book. So here goes.

A Vampire’s Tale

The best laid plans…

Marisa Clements was never satisfied writing the ‘gossip column’ in the local paper and she quit her job to follow her dream of writing fiction. Floundering in an unforgiving industry, she wrote about vampires, a popular subject she considered fascinating but as real as unicorns, to pay the rent. 

Corgan was tired of human misconceptions about vampires and ‘living’ as a vampire. He planned to tell Marisa his story and end his existence. It was no coincidence Corgan selected Marisa to write his story. With the ability to see the future, he knew she would be a major part of it. He knew if they met, she would help him die, but in doing so, she’d be doomed to the same fate. Once they met, their futures would be irrevocably intertwined. 

Corgan began to care for Marisa and finally revealed the truth to her. He admitted his quest to atone for his past sins had put her in grave danger from a nest of revenge seeking vampires. Corgan must claim her for her own protection. But claiming her is not enough, he must ask for help from his wizard friends and his maker in order to destroy his enemy or Marisa will never be safe. 

Available now:

Amazon | Smashwords | Apple | Kobo | Nook

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About the author:

Maya Tyler is a romance author, blogger, wife, and mother. She has a degree in Commerce, but writing is her true passion. Her short story “Just for Tonight” is included in an anthology called With Love from Val and Tyne and her debut paranormal romance novella was Dream Hunter, published in December 2014. Her second paranormal romance novel A Vampire’s Tale released on March 22, 2017. She writes paranormal romance with a twist and all her books have a common theme – happily ever after.

You can find Maya on the web at the following locations:

Twitter | Facebook | Website | Blog

Guest post: Vandana Shanker, author of 1857 Dust of Ages #TheBookClub

Please welcome Vandana Shanker, author of 1857 Dust of Ages. Vandana is here to share her views on research for historical fiction.

Take it away, Vandana.

Question: How difficult was it to manage the research? Did you innovate to fill up the gaps or stick to facts throughout?

As I wrote and researched for my book 1857 Dust of Ages, I learnt that writing historical fiction is different ball game altogether. And I had no idea, no formal training and I had plunged straight into it. On the way, I learnt a lot of things. I would try to put them together in Rules of writing Historical Fiction.

  1. Read a lot of stories. They could be fictional or non-fictional but they would create images of the era in your mind. When researching for my book, one book that stands in mind is William Dalrymple’s ‘The White Mughals.’  That had the germ of the story – an interracial romance. The rest of it came from various other fictional works, diaries and stories that I had read and heard over the years.
  2. Take notes. Lots of them and let there be gaps. They don’t have to be accurate. The notes would give you the larger picture whereas the gaps are the places where your story would evolve.
  3.  Study old pictures and paintings. This is essential for evocative writing- words that evoke the senses. Since there aren’t many photographs of 1857, I turned to paintings of the British in India and Mughal era miniatures. I have integrated many of these paintings in my story – as clues to the past that Shiv and Ruth unearth Pictures give the details that writing often misses out.
  4. Go to the location. For me it was the Hop on, Hop off around Delhi. Being a Delhitte, I could capture the bustle of the city, but to see it from the point of view of an nineteenth century character required more. As I went around, I learnt so much more about Delhi. For the last scene of the series, I visited Roshanarabagh and QudisiaBagh. Despite living in the city all my life, I had never been there ever before.
  5. Use the Internet. That goes without saying. I read a lot of old diaries and letters because they were so important in the nineteenth century. Most of the archival access was through the Internet. The events of 1857, the little things like rumours and gossip, minor skirmishes, bigger battles – Google is where I found most of the information
  6. Find a balance. You are not writing history. It is fiction and it is meant for the contemporary readers. I spent a lot of time recreating the diaries and letters in the language that would not put off the readers. Some places I have taken some liberties with the facts though I did stick to the broader details.
  7. Start writing. There is a time to stop the research and start writing because research is so seductive. As one delves deeper, it becomes a distraction especially in the day and age of the Internet. But we aren’t here for a history lesson. So as you do research, keep write simultaneously. That is the real job. Once you have the picture in mind, close your eyes and imagine and then get down to recreate it in your words

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Thank you, Vandana. It was enlightening to hear your views. As an author of historical fiction, I agree that it won’t do to turn your research into a history lesson, and holding a deep interest in history as I do, I know it’s all too easy to get immersed in delving the details of the bygone eras. Indian history is so rich and engrossing a subject that one cannot help it. At the same time, it’s really important to get research done accurately to give an authentic feel to the era. I myself love the 500ADs and write about Maharajas and princesses, but I look forward to reading about the Rule in your book. It was lovely having you here.