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Melanie Milburne on Writing Rules and Giveaway!

Author Melanie Milburne with a great post about Writing Rules in Fiction Writing. 

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Craft Blog- Melanie Milburne

         Playboy’s Lesson

There is so much advice out there on how to write these days that I’m hesitant to add to it. Writing is a very individual process and whenever someone mentions rules I start to panic as I can usually find a book I’ve written or read where all or one of them has been broken.

Here are a few examples of some “rules” I’ve read recently:

Never open with dialogue.
Don’t open with weather or scene descriptions.
Don’t head hop (change POV within a scene)

Pick up some of your favourite authors’ titles and you will see time and time again these and other rules are broken. So what should you do?

Do what feels right for you at this stage of your writing journey. Over the last few years I have changed not only my process but how I bend/break the rules. I no longer head hop, for instance, but I often open with dialogue as it gets the reader straight into the action.
The important thing is to write regularly so you get those writing muscles moving and well conditioned. Read book on craft and attend workshops. It’s amazing how you can hear something several times but your light bulb moment might not happen until much later. It’s because you’re further along the writing path and it all makes sense now.

I hope you enjoy my latest release Playboy’s Lesson. I have a signed copy for a reader who tells me which rule of writing you find most helpful or annoying.


BW, I didn’t open Playboy’s Lesson with dialogue or weather or scene description. Here is the opening sentence:

Even by Chatsfield standards Lucca had to admit this latest one to hit the London tabloids was a doozy.

Happy reading and writing!
Melanie Milburne

Playboy's Lesson (The Chatsfield)


  
When the Chatsfield heir comes to play…
Lucca Chatsfield has one simple motto: no rings, no strings. Adored wherever he goes, he has yet to meet a woman who can resist him. Until he's sent to the small principality of Preitalle and meets his greatest challenge ever….

Poised and polished, princess Charlotte does not do drama. The very last person she needs interfering in her life is this reckless playboy! Lottie is determined to resist Lucca's seduction, but his charm is potent, and practically perfect Lottie finds herself risking everything for just one more touch….
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30 comments:

  1. What a great first line! And I think it's good to have some "rules" at the beginning, but when we learn more about writing, then we can break the so-called rules. Congrats, Melanie!

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  2. Hi Cherie,
    Thanks for posting. Yes, I agree, the rules are good to follow in the beginning but don't let them hem you in too much.
    Hope you enjoy the book.

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  3. I love your first line.
    And yes, it's so important to write regularly to get those writing muscles nice and limber.

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  4. Great opening line!
    I find it amazing how much more I understand the rules the more I write - and the more able I am to bend/break them well! :)

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  5. Thanks for the tips, Melanie. It IS annoying to hear about rules you must obey and then see your favorite authors break them. However, once an author gets famous and makes money for the publisher, the editors will pretty much let them get away with anything - because even if reviewers don't like what's written, fans will still buy based on the name. So people who are famous can do what they want, but those trying to get famous or at least score a contract, had better follow the rules.

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  6. Your first line has me wanting to read the book – so that must be good.
    Maybe the answer is to bend the rules a little from time to time but just keep them in mind as a general rule!

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  7. Sorry I haven't been able to reply to each comment. Loving all the comments, however! It's interesting to see what each of you think about the rules.

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  8. Writing regularly is great advice!

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  9. Another interesting post full of yet more useful tips some of them obvious and some of them (Don’t open with weather?), well, not so obvious.

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  10. Congrats to Melanie on her latest release.

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  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  12. Excellent advice, Melanie. I just learned something the other day about not hiding dialogue in a narrative or description paragraph. The reasoning made sense, but then I thought of one of my favourite authors, Eric Lustbader, who does this very thing all the time. As a reader, it's never bothered me. So, who's right? I dunno. I'm doing like you say and going with my gut feeling.

    Hi Kelly. Thanks for stopping by my post at IWSG.

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  13. These are good rules. I've never opened with a dialog, and I don't recall ever reading a book that did.

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    1. Hi Sherry,
      You obviously haven't read any of mine! LOL.
      Thanks for posting.

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  14. Never open with dialogue? REALLY? I've been writing and reading books that open with dialogue since the 90s. I love to start books that way. I probably haven't done it lately...but I know it's done a lot.

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    1. Hi Stephanie,
      I love books that open with dialogue. It takes you straight into the action. Glad you enjoy them too.
      Thanks for dropping in!

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  15. Opening a scene with someone waking up is one of those rules that I find a bit frustrating when its broken--though I have seen several books make a fun twist out of it!

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    1. Hi Meradeth,
      I haven't tried a dream sequence but I'm sure in the right hands it would be done well. Good writers break all the rules at some point. Thanks for commenting.

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  16. As long as you never open up with a dream or beeping alarm clock, I'm totally good. Sometimes dialog is a very powerful opener.

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    1. Oh yes, the dreaded alarm clock. That is as jarring in a book as it is in real life!

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  17. Hi Melanie

    I have to say I loved this story Lucca and Lottie really learned a lot about each other and themselves :-) :-)

    As I am a reader and not a writer I am happy with opening lines that grab me whether it be a weather one or not but I do prefer no head hopping :-) :-)

    Have fun
    Helen

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    1. Hi Helen,
      It's interesting you say that as I never noticed head hopping until it was pointed out to me by Jennifer Cruisie in a workshop she was giving. I wasn't ready to take on board what she said at the time but later on it all made sense. A lot of best selling authors head hop so who am I to say don't do it. But like you, I prefer my reading material to stay in one POV long enough to make the most of the emotion being revealed.

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  18. Hi Melanie. Keep breaking the rules I say because what you're doing is a winning formula for me. Personally I love opening with dialogue.

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    1. Thanks TashNz, I try not to break too many rules these days but I certainly flouted a few in days gone past!
      Thanks for being such a great and insightful reader.

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  19. So true! Head hopping is horrible :-) but so many of those other rules don't really make sense at all. What's wrong with dialogue as long as the reader understands what's going on right away?

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    1. Hi Deniz,
      I agree. Dialogue instantly poses the most essential questions in a reader's mind: Who, what, how, why and when. It's a great way of spring boarding tension and conflict.
      Thanks for your comment!

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  20. Great opening line. :)

    I think it is okay to bend the rules- and I love seeing the rules broken in a way that really works.

    I really liked the advice to write every day. So true!

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    1. Hi Jess,
      Writing every day is like exercising every day. It makes it much less painful!
      Thanks for posting.

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  21. Head hop is probably my biggest rule breaker. I am learning all the time and having all those rules thrown at you can be overwhelming. Isn't it just someone else's point of view. I struggle with grammar and basic English rules without that been thrown into the mix. Great advice. Lucca was so so so bad you just have to love him. ;)

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  22. Yes, there seems to be no substitute for having the same lesson regarding writing repeatedly drilled into my skull -- for example, in my case, by watching the same musical again and again until the "secret" that caused a particular song to be compelling finally dawns on me. Learning is such a non-linear and unpredictable process sometimes.

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