Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Rule#4 Write from the Heart

This is my last post on rules. Really. It is. As much as I love the idea of following rules and finding success by doing so, rules are only parameters by which we can measure how fluent our stories are. To me, the key to good writing lies not in an ability to follow rules, but in an ability to write from the heart.

Case in point, I've got four books out. Three of them got great reviews. One did not. I've gotten great reader response on that less-than-stellarly-reviewed book, I've had many people tell me it was their favorite thus far, but the fact remains - in my mind it fell flat. I fought that story from page one to the end. I was so busy worrying about rules and guidelines that I forgot the most important element of writing - heart.

What is heart? It's that indefinable force that compels a reader to keep turning pages, that not-so-easy-to-define something that makes characters leap from the book and into the minds and souls of those who are reading. It's what is achieved when a writer lets go of preconceived ideas about what works and what doesn't and writes what is clamoring to be written. It's what happens when we trust ourselves and our abilities, our talents and our gifts. Some people call it writing in the zone. I call it writing with passion.

So, last rule - write your first draft with passion and heart. Then go back and apply whatever list of rules and guidelines you're working with. In that way, you'll better express your individual style and voice. And in the end, those things are what will carry your story.


Sabrina L. Fox said...

Ah, Shirlee,I feel like you can see exactly what I struggle with. I've allowed rules to totally take my voice out of my story. And then, learning the rules have helped with so many other aspects of the story.

And I've heard several other authors say the same thing about reviews.

Shirlee McCoy said...

I think you and I must be very similar writers. We struggle with the same things!

I'm all for rules until they interfer with creativity and voice. I've got to force aside the inner voice that is constantly telling me, 'that isn't right. it won't work.' I do my best work when I just let the story flow, knowing that I'll be going back and fixing it later.

Dani said...

Amen! I'm a perfect case in point. I let trying to follow all the rules suck all the fun out of writing. With this ms, I wrote from the heart. Not that I didn't struggle with the need to think it all out and the inner critic, but I pushed past it and had fun writing again :o)

Sabrina L. Fox said...

BTW, great job with keeping up on the blogging. I'm lucky to do one weekly. =)

Shirlee McCoy said...

Hi Dani! I owe you a phone call. It's been hectic around here lately.

Sabrina, I only do this stuff to keep from becoming a slug. It's always so much easier to keep going than to get started!

Camy Tang said...

This is sooooo true. I've been critiquing stuff from friends, and I can tell which stories mean more to them than others. It really comes through in the writing and the voice.

I've started a few stories that I probably won't finish, because I know I don't feel strongly enough about them to want to finish.


Lynette Eason said...

Hi shirlee, I am catching up on my blog reading. I've gotten behind. I enjoyed your last two posts on rules and laughed because I'm a SOTP writer too! We suire do have a lot in common...ha.

Anyway, I usually start out with this nice synopsis and by the time I get through the manuscript, it in no way resembles the synopsis...ha.

Oh well, the story is always better when the characters take the lead, I think.

Don't get me wrong, I think rules are important, but I totally agree with what you say about the heart behind the writing.

Also, thanks so much for the 1000 word a day thing. I've tried it before, but never really stuck to it. For some reason it's worked this time! Yay! 40 or so pages left to write and the manuscript will be DONE!! Whoo hoo!

Thanks for your help,