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 cause self-doubt.
One article told me that prologues and epilogues were the work of the devil. (I exaggerate for effect, but you get the gist.) The author of that article claimed many readers by-passed reading prologues and epilogues. That may be so, but I didn’t understand the logic because I enjoy reading them and find them to be part of the fabric of the novel.
One publisher’s blog stipulated 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. Confusion reigned supreme when many of the novels I read, movies I watched, and almost all the 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 it wasn’t the best recommendation to go by. Rape and violence against women, or human beings for that matter, is part of life, and you can’t shield your readers from it.
An editor’s critique I read stated that the length of the Harry Potter novels was too long. He said: Had they been adequately edited, they would have been one-third shorter. I was happy to think J.K. Rowling, who was likely told by her editors, believed in herself and her work enough to stick 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 your artistic style. If you want to write about rape, do so. If you want to infuse humor in your novels, do it. If you wish to have a prologue and epilogue in your book, go for it. In the end, a good story will flow as fluid as liquid 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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