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Let's Have Fun Again

Good afternoon! And happy, happy March! Ah, Spring is here, my friends. I believe that Spring is here.

Today, let’s expound on this simple sentence:

Writing is fun.

I know a lot of people view writing as boring and very scholastic, but I’m here today to tell you that writing is fun!

And if you are already a writer, you probably already know this. Or maybe you did, but then you forgot (because sometimes, we forget that we like the things we’re good at).

It’s very easy to see writing as just…blah. From the time you’re in first grade, we’re taught that writing is a formula. A beginning, a middle, and an end. A five-paragraph essay. Each paragraph three to five sentences long. Then, while the essay length gets longer as we grow older, it’s still pretty much the same deal. The paragraphs simply get longer. While there’s nothing wrong with these tried-and-true formulas of getting a person to put together a cohesive piece of writing, sometimes, we get too stuck in the box. We forget that in between these paragraphs, there can be subparagraphs, and plot twists, and new characters popping up –

I should probably add-in that I’m speaking of fiction writing. If you are writing a history essay about the Civil War for school, I suggest you do not add in plot twists and new characters.

But, sometimes, we are so accustomed to these rules of writing that we carry them into our fiction writing. While there are rules that I do believe should generally be upheld (I again suggest never starting your story with ‘and then he opened his eyes, and it was all a dream’. That’s something I learned from a book. Why not? It’s just another cliché, and you, my friend, are too brilliant for cliches), dare to take the rules off your writing.

Oh. You weren’t expecting that, were you?

Dare to take the rules off your writing.

Now. Let me be clear. Grammar is one of those rules that SHOULD be followed, and if you break it, then it must be clear what you’re breaking it for.

In Undaunted, I broke a lot of grammar rules – for the sake of the character’s dialect. A lot of the characters didn’t know proper grammar, so they didn’t speak or think like an English college professor. That, my friends, makes sense.

What wouldn’t make sense is if I completely said, “forget grammar” and left out punctuation, quotation marks, and didn’t pay any attention to sentence structure.

While your character may not know correct English, you do! So, make sure that your character’s inability doesn’t affect YOUR ability, and makes your wonderful writing impossible for other readers to read. Unless, of course, your character’s inability is so important to the plot of the story that you have to include it in. Otherwise, make sure that your writing is somewhat understandable. I say somewhat because certain stories bend this rule. If you’ve ever read Ulysses by James Joyce, you know what I mean. And I DO NOT read this book on the regular – I read it once for school. It’s written in the stream of consciousness – meaning you are in somebody’s head all. The. Time. You’re reading the character’s thoughts, which means every time they don’t complete a thought, you don’t complete that thought – that sentence – with them. It’s a lot of jumping around and can be very confusing. But Joyce did this purposely and with much careful detailing, and if you study it long enough, you can understand it.

There’s a much less intense version of this in Undaunted, but this was done purposely. It is the one section where we’re reading from Jazz’s perspective. Because of the circumstance surrounding the scene (and that’s all I’m going to say about that), some of Jazz’s thoughts (and therefore sentences) are incomplete, and not in proper correct grammar. That was done to highlight the panic and stress that he was feeling. As you’ll notice, that’s not how the rest of the book is written.

Rachel, this sounds like a lot of rules for something you told us to take the rules off of.

I know. But here’s the bottom line: you know good writing. If you’re writing frequently, you ultimately know what sounds good and what sounds awful. You, my friend, can read something and say: “That doesn’t make sense” or “Wow. That’s great!”.

So, don’t let the fear of the unknown keep you from moving forward. Keep looking for new angles, for new what-ifs in your stories. If it’s realistic fiction you’re writing, these what-ifs and new angles shouldn’t get too crazy. It’s supposed to be realistic, and while life can be very surprising, it’s not a good idea to suddenly have your main character actually be a mermaid. If you’re writing science fiction, then maybe it is. But try to keep your realistic fiction writing within the realms of reality (and if that disgusts you, try writing science fiction).

For example, I was literally just talking out a story idea on a car ride – when I got a new idea! One that I had never thought of, that was completely unlike what I had written, to the point where I’m not even sure I know how I will begin writing it.

That’s sort of scary. But the idea is intriguing, and I like it – a lot. So, I’m thinking although I don’t know all the steps, and I don’t have any sort of rules…I may just write.

So dearly, beloved, what have we learned? Take the rules off writing. I know that you want to write a story that makes sense, that people enjoy – but relax, my friend. The story you are meant to write will be written when you relax and enjoy the process of writing (I should also preface this by saying that this is something I’m constantly learning). It’s all a process, my friend. Enjoy it. I loved writing Undaunted and seeing it published (more than you could know!), but you know what? I love the process of writing book two.

Remember, you are deeply loved.


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