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Wednesday, 27 April 2016

write what you want

As often happens on social media I found myself ranting a little over a shared post. Though in this case it was not a post about politics, racism, homophobia or anything else on the worthy scale of things to rant about. But the picture below…

This is I admit a mildly insular subject to rant about but all the same, I have a firm opinion on the subject and I find the whole premise of the post offensive because I believe the post is based on a false premise. Readers like what adds to the story, a good prologue or epilogue or flashback can do just that.

This kind of 'advice' is patronising at best and based on the concept that there is some golden formula to writing. There isn't. Never has been. Never will be…

A writer should write what they want to write, how they want to write it. Readers do not want carbon copy books exactly like any other book they have read. They should write for an audience sure, but make that audience themselves first.
A good writer tells the story they would want to read. They explore the story and their characters, how they wish to explore them, and if you are lucky you'll then take the reader along with you.

One of the strangest reactions I got to Cider Lane from a friend was,

'There is hardly any dialogue, I prefer to read lots of dialogue, but I loved the novel anyway.'

The last bit was kind of the point I was aiming for in my opinion.
I wrote the book that I wanted to, the way I wanted to, people love it or hate it, but it was mine, and that's really what matters.

It follows no formula, no 'you must write like this.' (occasionally it treats grammar that way too but that's an actual error and one I am in the process of fixing for a new edition).

It flits between the male and female POV characters telling the story from both sides, letting you in the minds of both main characters as they misunderstand each other because that's the only way it could be told. Well by me at any rate.
If it follows any formula, it's my own and none I have intentions of following in another novel. Because I want my readers to have a different experience with every book. Because every book is a different experience.

It just tells the story how it wanted to be told in my soul.
If readers wanted the formula, they would never read fight club or the strange case of the dog in the night-time, or rain man, or lord of the rings for that matter, which became a formula but followed none itself.

And there in lays my 'firm opinion' on writing preludes and epilogues (Cider Lane has neither, but that’s beside the point). As well as for that matter on flashbacks, which I used a lot, though not as straight flashbacks exactly. My advice, should it be sought, would be to ignore all these 'golden formula' advice posts and write your story your own way.

Of course it should probably be noted I am not exactly a bestselling author, so what my opinion is worth here is another matter…