I scoured the internet and read article after article to educate myself on becoming 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 doubt—lots of doubt.
One article told me prologues and epilogues were the work of the devil. The author of that particular article claimed many readers bypassed them completely. Maybe so, but I didn’t understand the logic since I enjoy reading them and find them part of the novel’s fabric.
One publisher’s blog stipulated they wouldn’t take on matters 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 novels I read, the 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 those recommendations weren’t in line with my belief. I believe rape and violence against women or human beings, for that matter, are a part of life. You can’t shield yourself or your readers from it.
I read an editor’s critique stating that the length of the Harry Potter novels was 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 belief. Had she listened to them, she might not have had the success, which to this day she relishes.
Reading is knowledge, and that’s fine as long as you keep in mind not everything you read applies to you or your artistic style. If you want to write about rape, do so. If you’re going to infuse humour in your writing, do it. Want a prologue and epilogue in your book? Go for it.
In the end, a good story will flow fluidly only 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 style. Do what you want, not what others think you should. Trying may lead to failure, but learning through failure is the best lesson.
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