I have free time, I should write

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It’s just a five minute walk they said…

A blog post, that is.  Well, I should really WRITE, write, but ya know.  I’ve pretty much resolved that all the soul-sucking crap in my life will be done by the end of the year and then I’ll write fun stuff.  (Not that I’m not writing a lot now, it’s just all technical analysis crud.)

I decided to re-read a book I’d loved many, many years ago.  Something I almost never do.  There are so many books out there, I can’t see the point in going back to ones I already read.  But, every once in a while I make an exception.

And it’s been fascinating.  I still like the novel a lot, so I don’t think there’s any harm in naming it.  It’s Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay.  And probably the novel of his that made me go out and read all other novels I could find by him at the time. 

Based on the random bookmark in the book, it looks like I read it in 1994 or so.  (Said bookmark is a torn off piece of notebook paper with the following on it, “Sheryl Crow Sat. Night Music Club” and “Trivial Pursuit Millennium.”  I’m basing my conclusion on the Sheryl Crow portion of the note.)

The first thing I found fascinating about re-reading this book is that I remembered liking it for the strong female protagonist who basically worked as a prostitute to get access to the man she wanted revenge on.  If you had asked me at any point in the last twenty (yikes!) years, that’s what I would’ve described to you.

It’s not.  That character doesn’t show up in the book until about 150 pages in and then goes away again.  I didn’t even remember the whole country without a name aspect of the story.  I thought Tigana was the female character. (WRONG.)

So, a lesson in what your readers take away from your book versus what you write about.

Second, I don’t know if GGK does this with his other books, I’d have to go look, but this book uses an omniscient viewpoint.  And it Tells a crap ton of the story.  (As opposed to Showing it.)

It’s still a great book.  I’m still enjoying reading it.  It just takes all those “you shouldn’t do this” rules and does them just fine.

Which is to say, story matters.  At least for me.  Until I started writing, I really didn’t notice whether a book was in first person or third person or past tense or present tense.  I just knew that the story either worked or it didn’t.  And I really do think that’s what has to matter.  It’s easy to get all hung up on rules that various people tell you, but, really, truly, it’s about telling a great story in whatever way works for that story.  And for your audience.

I can guarantee you that proper grammarians will never, ever like my blog or my novels.  Nor will exceedingly detailed types who need to know precisely how everything works.  That’s not my style.  And that’s ok.  As long as I can convey my point in some way, shape, or form (even with fifty clichés a page), someone out there will like what I have to say and keep reading it.  Theoretically…(You, dear blog reader, may be the only one.)

Haha.  I certainly don’t appeal to folks who like someone to get to the point!  At least not today.

Random bonus link: The Writing Rules Are Just Tools by agent Rachelle Gardner.

“The only time ‘rules’ ever come into play is when you or your editor recognizes that something’s not working.”

I like it.

About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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2 Responses to I have free time, I should write

  1. I like that quote about only noticing those rules when something doesn’t work. How true is that! It is cool to hear about your experience re-reading something you loved. It really does make it clear that perhaps more attention being spent on connecting with readers and finding our own style is great compared to spending too much time obsessing over whether each comma is appropriate. When the story’s good, the last thing you notice is a comma.

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