I scoured the internet, read article after article to educate myself on how to become a better writer. The authors of the articles I read, although insightful, didn’t do much to improve my writing. What they did was confuse and instill self-doubt—lots of doubt.
One article told me that prologues and epilogues were the work of the devil. The author of that particular article claimed that many readers by-passed them completely. That may be so, but I didn’t understand that logic because I enjoy reading them and find them to be part of the fabric of the novel.
One publisher’s blog stipulated that they wouldn’t take on matter dealing with rape or violence against women, and as a newbie and based on the political climate of the day, I took that to heart. Yet confusion reigned supreme when many of the novels I read, movies I watched, and almost all successful television series delved in violence. I mean Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is on its twentieth season for God’s sake.
Needless to say, I decided that it wasn’t the best recommendation to go by. Rape and violence against women or human beings for that matter is a part of life and you cannot shield yourself or your readers from it.
I read an editor’s critique where he stated that the length of the Harry Potter novels is too long. “Had they been properly edited, they would have been one-third shorter,” he said. I was happy to think that editors had likely told J.K. Rowling just that and that she stuck to her guns. Had the books been shortened, she may not have had the success, which to this day she relishes.
Reading is knowledge, and that’s fine as long as you remember that not everything you read applies to you or your artistic style. If you want to write about rape, do so. If you want to infuse humor in your writing, do it. If you want a prologue and epilogue in your book, go for it. In the end, a good story will flow as fluid when you let your creative juices loose. A good story, regardless of the subject matter, will captivate your readers.
Follow your instincts, define who you are in your writing, and do what you want, not what others think you should. Trying may lead to failure, but learning through failure is the best lesson of all.
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