Rules? Who Needs Rules?
- She’s used that word five times on this page.
- Look at all the filler words.
- That sentence would flow better if the clauses were reversed.
- What a fantastic metaphor. Why don’t you use it in your next book?
- A narrator would hate that alliteration, but it works for the written word.
And so on, and so on.
I’ve belonged to several book clubs. I find it enlightening to see what resonates with the members, as well as what turns them off. Every once in a while, we even agree. I’m usually the odd woman out, since I don’t read much “literary” fiction. Or, a sub-genre I was unaware of, “book club fiction.”
I recall pointing out that an author was pulling me out of the story because they had more than one character acting in a paragraph, so it was hard to tell who was speaking. The rule I learned was that the speaker owns the paragraph. One of the club members looked at me, eyes widened in surprise.
“I never knew that,” she said. She wasn’t the only one. The knowledge, or more accurately, lack thereof, doesn’t keep them from enjoying the story.
Recently, I downloaded a book. It was a freebie, so I didn’t look at a sample first. The author, for whatever reason, had opted to do away with quotation marks. Instead, dialogue began with a dash and ended with a paragraph return. No beats or tags to accompany the dialogue.
Don’t Do Anything To Pull The Reader Out Of The Story.
And for me, seeing dashes, figuring out they represented dialogue, and trying to figure out who was talking yanked me out like the guy with the hook in a melodrama.
Why did the author choose to make their own rules? I don’t know. Liked gimmicks? Wanted to be clever? To rebel against convention?
Or is this a case of Learn the rules, then break them?
Short of finding the author’s contact information and asking, I have no idea.
What are your thoughts, TKZers? Are you a “rules were made to be broken” sort of writer, or do you prefer to stick with convention? Would you have trouble reading a book that threw basics like the rules of punctuating dialogue off the cliff? Have you read anything where a blatant deviation of “normal” pulled you out of the story? Enticed you to read more? Made you consider trying it?
And now, a total digression, but I’m curious.
Wordle? Yes or No?
Reacher on Prime? Yes or No?
Olympics? Yes or No?
On a personal note, I will be heading off on a bucket list trip next week and cyberspace access will be extremely limited in Antarctica. I have guests filling in for my posting days, but if I’m not participating in discussions for several weeks, that’s why.
Available Now. In the Crosshairs, Book 4 in my Triple-D Romantic Suspense series.
Changing Your Life Won’t Make Things Easier
There’s more to ranch life than minding cattle. After his stint as an army Ranger, Frank Wembly loves the peaceful life as a cowboy.
Financial advisor Kiera O’Leary sets off to pursue her dream of being a photographer until a car-meets-cow incident forces a shift in plans. Instead, she finds herself in the middle of a mystery, one with potentially deadly consequences.
Terry Odell is an award-winning author of Mystery and Romantic Suspense, although she prefers to think of them all as “Mysteries with Relationships.”