Thursday, May 8, 2014

When Breaking the Rules Works

I'm reading a book at the moment that I had to pull myself away from to work. It's called California Man. I actually downloaded it when it was going for free. I've become weary of free books. Many of them are badly edited and I can't get past the first chapter or so. After having worked with editors and critique partners, I've become very critical of how books are written. My book club friends probably think I'm way too difficult to please. It's actually sad because I'd hate someone to be as critical as that with one of my books.

Anyway, the things that bug me the most in books are usually related to grammar, point of view chopping or head hopping as some people call it, or irritating things like using the character's name all the time instead of pronouns - things that jar you from the story. When these are overwhelming, the story doesn't flow and I have to put the book down. I bought a Harlequin medieval romance for my book club. I really thought I'd enjoy this book but there was so much head hopping that it reached a point where every page was more and more confusing. How could the editors pass that by? I couldn't go on. I was angry, disappointed and shocked.

Anyway, the book I'm reading at the moment had me hooked from the blurb. Maybe because I can relate to the heroine's shyness. I've struggled with insecurities and shyness a large portion of my life so I wanted to read the story of how she overcame her fears when romanced by a very outgoing, popular man. I'm LOVING this book. When I discovered what caused her insecurities, the stakes were up significantly for me and I decided I have to know the outcome of this romance. I'm rooting for the couple all the way - my heart and soul are invested in this story.

Guess what? There is some head hopping in this book. I get the feeling it's done deliberately. It somehow is done in such a way that doesn't confuse me and I'm actually glad she puts both their thoughts in as the moments are so intense, I want to know what both are thinking. In this single instance, I have forgiven the head hopping. What makes it easier for me to accept is that the book is well-written in other ways. The sentences flow, the characterization and plot is good and everything works together well. And most of all, she's penetrated my heart with this story. I think that's the key. If we can touch someone's heart with our stories, we've won a reader for life. Maybe then they will forgive our few mistakes in the books we write.

I'm going to stick to the rules because I think they're vital to putting out a good book. But if I need to break a rule for a specific reason, a very valid one, and I'm very confident in my craft, I will do so.

Have you ever broken a very important writing rule? I would love to find out what and why?

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