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How to break rules well

To me, there are no hard and fast rules about writing well. It all comes down to the fact on how you break those rules. And how you make it work into the novel. 

I have a personal belief that all writing rules are meant to be broken, and they are merely guidelines for us to follow. Most of this guidelines at the beginning would help our work. But one of these days, given that we as writers would always think out of the box, we would eventually break them one way or another. 

I’m fine whether you are reading this while working on your first work, or how many manuscripts. Since I’m giving you a few tips on breaking rules well, and making it work cohesively with your story. 

So, here are some tips on how you should consider breaking rules. 

#1 It must be necessary 

If it is necessary, by all means break it. If your feel as though your story could do with that twist, by all means use it to your advantage. But do note that there might be better alternatives, and should it come to seeing which is the alternatives is better, I would suggest you take everything into account first, and consider other alternatives before doing this. Since it isn’t as easy to break rules than following them, as you need to understand the craft very very well. 

#2 It must have a good reason 

This is above all, everything must come with a logical and good reason, you can break all the rules and no one can tell you not too. But you have to know whether it is the logical way to go, or are you simply doing it for the sake of unpredictability, which can backfire quite badly. Since readers are smarter than that, and they will know whether it was broken because the author simply wanted it to be complex or whether there is a logically good reason behind it.

#3 Execution 

You must execute it well, how you break the rules has to be executed well in the book. Otherwise, it feels sloppy and cheap rather than anything else. And execution can make or break a book usually, either where the book always have characters saying things at the wrong time. Or where it feels so cheap to have pulled it off or have a happy ever after when it was feeling like a tragedy after it all. That kind of thing. 

So, here are my tips on what you should consider before breaking a rule and making it work. If you feel as though there is more to be added, leave a comment below I always greatly welcome comments. 

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Is is okay to work on this manuscripts at the same time?

For me it is always okay. Because if I focus solely on one I would eventually face a burnout. I’m not kidding. Since I would hit a block which I cannot get through or end up just losing interest in that novel. 

So for me, I have to work on two to three manuscripts simultaneously to keep the momentum. That each chapter is relatively fresh and possibly reveals new twists or a new way of seeing a character. I cannot just work on one single work at a time, I need to at least have two to three. It was one thing which proved to have worked for me, since I’m on the verge of finishing my first novel after seriously writing for nearly two years. 

But there are many downsides. I have many times where I needed to look back because I simply could not even remember certain details. But that can remedied by notes, or some ideas for future chapters. I usually do that from keeping myself from forgetting. 

I also have a routine time where I would work on each story, sometimes some have more time, others have shorter depending on how much progress I have made or how long that story is. Or how fast I want it complete? It seems that the only way I can write is that I simply set goals for myself and don’t make excuses, and also habit. 

To work on two manuscripts is also to divert your attention. It can be difficult, it can be daunting. But for some writers like me it works because it retains my interest. Since every day I am not staring at the same manuscript over and over, I can quickly find a way to begin. Or sometimes I just add a sentence. 

Another reason why I also do this is that I would be constantly thinking about each story on a deeper level and I probably wouldn’t discard it once the novel is finished. 

Even though progress can be really slow, but I use this method because to me it’s a way that forces me to write and think at the same time. I also encounter a lot less writers block, since I probably wouldn’t just constantly be thinking about how a plot twist would work then realise that it doesn’t. And whatever I come back to the work with, is that I am always a better writer. 

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Writing A Healthy Romance 

I would say that writing a healthy romance takes a lot of work. And sometimes a lot of skill too. To me, a healthy romance means that the characters should not be subjected to abuse with their beloved. That is just warped. 

Both sides should also fully respect and accept one another for their faults and their wishes. No one has to change completely to accommodate to someone else’s needs. Or one has to be the one always apologizing. Eventually, their relationship will break apart as it is unhealthy and wouldn’t be good to either side. 

Romance and love to me includes a lot of give and take and compromises. That is what love is to me. Not just having pure adoration or admiration. Let face it, admiring someone is placing them on a pedestal and being perfect. And no one is perfect. Admiration is not a good form of love, it can become an obsession or something unhealthy. It isn’t a good thing at all. 

So, the best kind of love is mutual respect and trust. They need to accept wholly the person before them, not just because he is hot so I will love him. That is a horrible reason to fall in love. Sadly, it is how most romances in young adult novels goes. It is just too shallow, and not about personality traits but about looks. Looks would fade, but the personality would never change. That’s the reality. 

So, to me a healthy romance can be quick or slow but just depends on how it is handled here. That’s all I would say about their development, even though I pretty much prefer a slower development of things. It allows a better exploration of how well a fit they are for each other and whether they will be able to live with each other or not. 

Because love isn’t shallow, it needs a lot of depth too. These characters are spending their lives and their years together, I would prefer to see a good healthy ending. Where both are able to accept each other for their faults and their weaknesses as much as for their strengths. 

These are what I would consider a part of a healthy romance. Feel free to leave a comment on what you think would be a healthy romance and what isn’t. I really look forward to knowing what you think. 

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Making A Character Three-dimensional 

This can be one of the most difficult to pull off, and even sometimes I can barely pull it off. Making three dimensional characters is a must in almost any book, if you ask me. But it is also the headache for many writers, even me to an extent. 

The first thing which I would say would help make your characters three-dimensional is giving them a flaw. Or a number of them. Some small, some big. And enough to make them believable to a reader. Having one flaw can be quite boring, but a few where they would need to rely on others is more suitable instead. And one might just lead to their downfall. 

Another is develop details, sometimes certain quirks or details help to make a character have a little more depth. Even more so when why did they eventually develop such a habit, it can be quite fun to invent the various back stories constructed in such a way to make them so. 

Their quirks and habits, must reflect their mindset. Or at least give a nudge that there is a lot more than what meets the eye, or even any disabilities they might have. Not shove it into the reader’s face or simply mention it but also show it in some ways that they are as such. 

And most importantly, is to have another side to them. Rather than the usual characters personality, show a little more to them. It can make the book a little funnier, a little darker, a little more deep. Also, it must be a smooth transition or hinted from early on that they might have such a side or personality. Only that it is hidden from them. 

Most importantly, is to always be honest with the character you have and their motivations, their goals and their morality. Show what their mind is thinking, show what kind of actions they would take. And also, let their actions and words define them, you can justify it from their point of view but they should never change or become a gentler version of what they should have been. 

It is also to portray them in their true colours if they are main characters. Otherwise, they wouldn’t even sound like themselves anymore, just hypocrites if done unintentionally can be rather off putting. 

So, do you have any other ways to make a character three-dimensional? Feel free to leave it below, it is always welcome. 

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Improving Your Craft

To others that might include a lot of steps. But to me, I guess the main idea is to write, write and write. You probably wouldn’t know what sounds good on your first novel, but after countless tries, your work would sound better albeit still not perfect. 

But the most basic thing you have to do first is to write, write a first draft that is horrible, write a short story, write anything that doesn’t sounds right. Experiment. Just write basically. You won’t get it right the first time, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t later on. 

But like I said, you have to write. There is no simple way to go over it. Trust me, I thought that by reading writing tips my work will be a lot better than others. That my work would be a notch higher. Unfortunately, never worked out. You will only learn if you constantly write, and keep writing. 

And it’s simpler than having to attend workshops, courses on writing, which I have never even stepped foot into one. Although I used the internet for advice and tips, but at the end of the day it drill doesn’t help much with the exception of writing. 

If you want to say that failure doesn’t sound right to you, let me tell you that in this, you probably have to expect a lot of failures and disappointment. It’s in the life of a writer, when you get a critique that has a list long of suggestions where you can improve, trust me, it will happen and no work is immune to it, there isn’t an objective book in writing, only subjective. And you probably need to have something to show them, you can talk all you want about the book but if it doesn’t exist because you haven’t started writing then it is quite a waste. 

So, what are you waiting for? Just pick up the pen, as let’s face it, there is no perfect time to write a book, it’s either we do it now or we will never get around to it. 

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Making A Story Original

A story can be as clichéd or as original as you want to be. There always will be borrowed elements from elsewhere, but to me it is bringing something new to these elements and frankly speaking what you think of them. 

I mean, we write books which are meant to be subjective. There is no one size fits all in this approach, and nothing will be able to satisfy all. You have to accept that there will be people who hate your novel and people who also will love it to pieces. Thus the only important thing is to always bring in how you feel about the world into your book it is always present even if it is reduced to nothing more than subtlety within your own book. And to never shortchange your readers. 

As such, to be original is to just bring a new twist to it. To show things in a different light. And also, what you think makes up the particular genre you are writing in. And most importantly, whose story you are telling. 

No work is fully original, we all borrow a little here and there but what is original is how we say things, it is also how we write them and present our ideas and thoughts through novels. 

As such, to be original to me is to really enjoy what you are writing. If you put your heart into it, it will feel original rather than a novel who basically had all the elements in a checklist. 

Also, all writers would present it differently. Their works would all have something inherently different, if not then it’s basically plagiarising, to be able to have some original ideas mean some novelty and something different from other books itself. All books published I do have to admit has this, even if the execution doesn’t really make any like it. 

For me, this is what I think is necessary to being original. What do you think about this topic? What else could make your works a little more original? 

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Creating Believable Characters

This applies to main characters mostly. I really hate characters which are always doing the right thing. They are simply not believable to me in the least. Whenever I read a book about such characters, most of the time I think they are stupid. 

There is always a fine line between having a moral code and forgiving and simply being a self harming idiot. And I absolutely despite villains who just change at the last moment, it never happens at all and please don’t tell me that he was possessed, it simply feels cheap. 

I really like realistic characters, and maybe it’s why I end up writing mostly anti-heroes, or even villains. Those that are realistic and sound in their decisions. Rather than being irrational and saving the world because of it. 

If a hero always manages to go through everything without ever growing at all, and not growing through any ordeal. Then, he is simply a flat character. He does not learn anything from his own adventures and simply is not a good hero. 

Or heroes whose view on the world never changes, even slightly. It doesn’t have to be as big as from good to evil. Perhaps a little more willing to sacrifice others for the greater good or just willing to accept that some are beyond saving. That’s a change. The saviour complex sometimes needs to stop really. 

And also, don’t try and link characters together by a prophecy. It’s old and it’s tried. For me, a far better and more interesting thing is to watch characters dig their own graves, and characters becoming their downfall through their own mistakes. I really like characters that are also driven whether by revenge, or any other means. They just need to have a goal, and not just a person that the reader slip into. 

They also must grow and change. Like earlier, it can be anything from personalities or moral ethnics, but I believe the goal should not change much at all. I strongly dislike characters who just change their goal unless they have achieved it or found a better goal. They should never just be solely forgetting the previous goal. Goals can make or a break a character, especially villains and protagonists. Their goal should always be opposite of each other to be interesting. 

Overall, I really think that believable characters are made of goals that may never change, constant growth at the end of the book and most importantly, having characters be driven through it rather than some prophecy. 

What do you think makes up a believable characters? Or is there anything I have left out which you think is important? Please leave it in the comments below.