Wednesday, October 29, 2014

You Can't Break the Rules if You Don't Know the Rules

I don't like to color inside of the lines. When it comes to writing stories I don't insist authors color in the lines either. I was asked a question about whether or not a story technique HAD to apply. Truth is outside of grammar and punctuation I don't think anything HAS to be done. BUT I do want authors to know what they're doing vs. just doing what they think is the correct method of storytelling. It's the difference between being intentional and being unaware. Not to suggest that lack of awareness will never work (anything is possible), but unintentionally breaking rules you don't know exist is like rolling the dice and hoping it hits snake eyes.

When I write, I write with intention to do what I am doing. If it's breaking rules of storytelling or character development or plotting, I know it does. Why I am doing is what matters vs. just deciding to do it. What is my point? For example, in my forthcoming book Body in the Trunk I quite intentionally messed with the story structure. What I did with my technique was to "intentionally" layer the storytelling. Each chapter while a mini-story in and of itself was told from different viewpoints. That technique accomplished two "intentional goals": one, to give the reader insight into each of these characters and provide their back stories, and two, develop their voices and points-of-view. It also created a depth and developed the story from these different viewpoints.

Now the haphazard approach would be to just do what you want with no intention or purpose. You know ... throw mud at the wall and see what sticks. Here is the insight: I knew the rules of storytelling. Since I know the rules I was able to "twist" and play with them to get my gross results: a fully flushed out story. If I didn't know exactly what I was doing in bending structure to my goals, the results could have been messy storytelling that loses the reader's interest. Additionally, critics (and they still could) might lambaste my work and not see that it was all intentional. My hope is they see it's creative and interesting not disorganized and confusing. Without knowledge of the rules to break the latter is more likely. So know your rules. Then bend them.

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