Thursday, September 8, 2011

Guest Blogger - Tina Moss - When Rules are Meant to Be Broken: The Whole Story

Presenting my very first guest blogger - Tina Moss.

Tina, besides being a very interesting, talented and fun person and a wonderful friend, is my dear co-writer and a fellow black belt karateka. I've known my whole life that I loved writing but Tina is the one who inspired and pushed me to pursue writing seriously, and I will always be grateful to her for that. Tina is very enthusiastic about helping and inspiring other writers and is an active member of the writing community. Check out her blog Tina Moss’ Blog – She Won’t Bite but Her Books Might! and follow her on Twitter @Tina_Moss. Thank you Tina for being my first guest blogger!

And so, without further adieu, I give Tina the floor (or the page, in this case).

When Rules are Meant to Be Broken: The Whole Story
On your writing journey, you will inevitably and undoubtedly meet the “do this” person. In fact, you may meet several “do this” people. They are the ones that have all the answers, that know all the rules. Their bag of tips and tricks includes only those that are well approved by the authorities of x, y and z. (I’ve yet to figure out who these mysterious x, y, z authorities are, but alas, maybe one day.)

I’m here today to tell you one simple response – baloney (or Bologna; I prefer the latter, much nicer than the lunchmeat). Should you follow publishing industry standard for manuscript formatting? Yes. No one wants to read your novel in 16 pt comic sans. Should you create a well thought out query letter? Absolutely, if you want to get any interest. Will experienced and honest critique partners and beta readers make your story better? No question. But, at the end of the day, you – YES, YOU – are the author of your work.

Some of the best stories break the cookie cutter mold. Take J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter as a prime example. Whoever believed in a million years that kids and adults alike would follow a boy wizard into manhood over the course of seven books and over four thousand pages? Constantly, we hear agents scream in interviews, on blogs, and in their Twitter streams that they crave something new, something unique, something original – the NEXT Harry Potter, NOT a reworking of the same story.

Robotic Sheep Rule

They’re not looking for sci-fi meets historical fiction meets Little House on the Prairie. They want your story to fit into a genre – if you’re writing commercial fiction - but that doesn’t mean it has to be the same old thing. Should your contemporary romance end with the heroine dying and the hero running off with her sister? No, but it might work as a soap opera. How about your thriller turning into a new rendition of the Sound of Music? Nah, the hills are not alive. You have to know your audience and their expectations. It doesn’t mean you can’t take a chance on some out of the box idea. What about a YA paranormal featuring a girl raised by a secret government organization with a mermaid best friend who lives in a tank? See Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy. Or a crossover Dystopian novel about a girl who competes in gladiatorial style games to survive? See Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.

Take a chance on that shiny new idea (aka SNI in writer speak) and run with it. At the end of the day, you may not be able to convince your audience that a hundred year old vampire virgin hangs out in high school and sparkles in the sun, but then again...


  1. Thanks so much for having me on the blog today. I'm excited to be your first guest, and seriously, started to tear up over that intro. I'm exceedingly lucky to have a wonderful friend and writing partner like you.

    And to your readers, I hope you enjoy the post. Remember, know the rules, but don't be afraid to break them.

  2. I do love breaking the rules, and I love other authors that do it too! Sometimes the best novels come out of people who aren't afraid to do that. Great post Tina!


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