So you can read my books

Thursday, February 17, 2011



in your book. Press the limits,

push the boundaries of what you think will work,

then make it work somehow.

Aren't you as a reader tired of seeing the same old thing :

shy girl goes to new school and meets a hot bad boy who turns out to be :

a werewolf, a vampire, a cross-dressing son of a mad scientist (caught you with that last one, didn't I?)

How about a tiger named Hobbes who imagines his human boy doll is alive and talks to him?

Spin the expected on its ear. You will snare bored readers, making them your loyal fans.

You can't go beyond yourself. No matter how strange your twist ... shadows who live and breathe, casting people behind them as they walk in the sun. No matter your idea, it will still have the stamp of your personality, your style of writing.

Be open to any whim drifting from your unconscious. To create means to think beyond the limits we have placed upon our muse. The mind has no boundaries. The imagination is the key to infinity ...

and to bestsellers.

A persecuted boy cracks. He climbs to the top of the school with a rifle and the school's yearbook. He starts shooting.

His persecutors? No. He shoots every nice person he knows. Why?

To spare them the hurt he knows is waiting for them as it waited for him.


Break the rules. The shy girl falls in love with the vampire. His love for her turns him human. Now, his coven is out to turn them both!

Extreme is good.

The vampire was confident and kind. As a human he is sullen and snotty. The girl wants him to be a vampire again even if it means the death of innocents.

Her shyness hid her selfishness. The vampire realizes what a monster she would turn into if she becomes a vampire. He kills them both ...

as a gesture of the last remnants of his kindness.

The only rule :

everything in your novel must serve a purpose, down to the painting of the dying swan on the girl's bedroom wall.

It is what he looks at as he smothers the girl he loves. He sees not the monster she has become but the lovely, shy swan he thought her to be when he first saw her.

Everything in your novel must do double-duty.

The murder of the girl. The painting of the dying swan. Even going to the prom. The surface meaning. The meaning behind the character doing it.

Have we moved beyond the rules, beyond the boundaries of what you think possible?

Now, we are free ...


  1. I'm breaking rules, that's what I'm afraid of.

  2. I couldn't agree more. I love breaking the rules when I write. Turning things upside down and always slipping in something totally unexpected. Almost nothing is off limits, I can always edit and re-write later ;-)

  3. Wendy : Breaking the rules means at least you will stand out from the crowd. Break them, then if you re-read your work, and it doesn't work, go back and prune and edit. I know you have talent, and you can make your novel something special.

    Poetic Justice : Isn't doing the unexpected in your fiction liberating? If it seems unexpected to you, it will be to your readers. You will have their attention. Thanks for commenting, Roland

  4. Be a trouble maker! Yes!
    I'm considering getting this tattooed somewhere... it's worthy of remembering.

  5. Terrific advice. There's nothing worse than starting to a read a novel with a great beginning, only to find that you've guessed the plot and the ending before you're even halfway through.

  6. Superb advice. I feel so disappointed if I've guessed a plot, a twist or an ending. I'm still finding my bravery and help myself by always asking....what if?...

  7. I tend to be wary whenever anyone says either "follow all the rules" or "break all the rules". In my opinion, either extreme is bad. Rules are just guidelines, it is true, and your allegiance as a writer should always be to your story and characters, not the rules. But when you leave the path in the forest it's just as easy to get lost and die as it is to find an unexpected scene of beauty.

  8. Creative minds think alike. I just wrote a draft for a similar post this morning, and I enjoyed your thoughts, made me feel like I wasn't alone hashing these ideas out.

    We're writers, we don't follow the rules, we rewrite them so others believe them. ;) And if that ticks people off, they can throw my book back at me before they grab the next one, and you know they will... that's just human nature.

  9. Jennifer : Part of the fun of blog serial, GHOST OF A CHANCE, was that my characters came to life, some not very pleased with all the pain I had put them through! LOL.

    Li : Yes, you're so right. I remember watching the beginning credits of a movie with flashes of scenes and guessing the whole plot and ending of it. Merde. LOL.

    Margo : All of us are seekers in the dark when it comes to developing as a writer. I know you have bravery ... you're braving the troubled waters of Publishing. Your dreams will see you through. Thanks for liking my advice.

    Subcreator : I was being a bit tongue in cheek when I said break all the rules. I even gave a rule to follow in my post! Gypsy, my cat, just snorted as if to say "Male humans!"

    You're right, of course. Ernest Hemingway said you must know the rules of writing before you know when it is artistic to break them. Thanks for visiting and commenting, Roland

    Tanya : Isn't it cool that the two of us are writing on the same topic at the same time? You're right : those of us in the writing community are kindred spirits.

    Human nature has puzzled men of thought from Socrates to Freud. Thanks for liking my post. I want to read yours. I hope neither one of us gets our books thrown back at us!

  10. Great advice. Breaking the rules opens up so many possibilities for a story, and I've noticed that authors who do break them often write the more entertaining novels.

  11. Golden Eagle : You're so right : the same plot told the same way with similar characters is a tale that is stale before it begins. Thanks for liking my post and commenting, Roland

  12. Roland: Hi! and thanks for stopping by! I'm intrigued and following.
    I'm a believer in pushing the limits with your craft, and that everything plays a part...even if we don't always know what it is. Looking forward to some interesting discussions...

  13. Autumn : You have a lovely blog. Thanks for visiting mine. We build muscles physically and craft-wise by pushing past what we think we can do. And I also am looking forward to those interesting discussions, Roland

  14. I am going to break a huge "rule" in the sequel to the book I'm busy with now.

    In fact, I'm terrified of it.

  15. Misha : Go for it. If it works, terrific. If not, you will have grown from the attempt. As Hibbs, the bear with 2 shadows, always says, "We learn more from wounds than we do from victories."

  16. I agree, for writers it's all about breaking the rules. For agents, editors and publishers, though, I'm not so sure. Even if an agent/editor adores your work, don't expect him/her not to ask for a happily ever after, a more stereotypical character, a more traditional storyline.

  17. Some very cool ideas! You definitely have some creative juices swirling around in YOUR writerly brain, Roland. :) I think this is the key to being unique--find those twists!--because all kinds of stories have been told, and it's difficult to stand out in today's crowded market unless you can be unique. (Plus have good writing skills of course.)

  18. This post came at the perfect time. Thank you. I'm planning my second novel and I've been struggling a bit. Now I can see that maybe I'm afraid to break a set of rules. You are right-I can change it in revision if it doesn't work.

  19. FYI: Each city whispers in its own voice. Your city. My city.

    "You know streets that whisper to stay away at night.

    You know what scandal has stained some avenue beyond repair. You know what person's name is spoken in hushed tones long after he or she has died and been buried in your city."
    I LOVE THAT!~ It has a great tone.

  20. You've inspired me with this one. I write fantasy romance, which as any romance writer knows, is often tagged with "predictable".

    You know what I say? Yeah, the characters get together in the end, but how they get there doesn't have to be easy. It doesn't have to be cliche or the same old story lines over and over. Why have the virginal, innocent maid swept off her feet by the brooding womanizer? I say maybe she's been around the block a time or two, and maybe he's the one who needs to be rescued.

    Thanks for an inspiring post!!