Thursday, January 29, 2009

Unwritten Rules

In the land of writing, there are a few unwritten rules an author dare not break. (Cue spooky music here.) A couple of them came to mind while writing this afternoon.

Rule of woe #1. Do not introduce your character's physical features by way of a mirror. Need I tell you that one of my characters is looking in a mirror?

Rule of woe #2. Do not start a book with the main characters traveling in a car. I can think of a couple of well known authors who've smashed this rule effectively. However, a New York editor told me that she would put down a manuscript with this as an opening scene. She would also put down one containing--

Rule of woe #3. Don't start a book with a dream scene.

From what I understand, each of the above scenarios tells an agent or editor that the author is new to the business. Which brings me to another rule...

Rule of woe #4. Editors and agents look for authors who've written at least three manuscripts. Even if they haven't sold one of them, the very act of writing three complete novels tells the agent/editor a lot. That an author has persistance. That an author has more than one story in him or her. That an author is able to finish a project. An editor once told me that by the time an author gets to the third manuscript he or she has begun to learn to write. Nora Roberts had six manuscripts written before she sold her first one, so it may take a few people a bit longer.

Professional photography is full of rules of woe...Homeschooling has its share, too. I imagine there are lots of unwritten rules in whatever we do. Are there unwritten rules in what you do? And what do you do with those rules? Abide by them? Break them?

One of my favorite quotes is 'learn the rules, then break them. But learn them first, so you can break them with authority.'

Off to begin figuring out another way to let my readers know what my character looks like....

2 Other Creative Souls are Saying:

Cheri (aka "The Mom Lady") said...

Wow, girl, you can GARDEN! I could kill a silk plant. Don't know one soil from another. And have been known to plow down "weeds" only to find out later they were jonquils! (true story - in England...)

You would have LOVED the gardens we saw when we lived in the UK. Now THAT is a nation that takes gardening to new heights. And it's a language I don't speak - as foreign to me as Greek. So I depend on translators (read: gardeners and landscapers) to maintain my outside spaces! Your garden looks gorgeous - nice when you know what you're doing.

Jenileigh said...

Neat. I didn't know.