“Story trumps all!”
“Throw away the rules and just write!”
“Forget A to B to C. Just put the words on paper!”
We often ask what the most important lessons are for a good story. We get comments on the rules, the trends, formulas, publishers’ preferences and so on. And everyone has an opinion.
RULES! RULES! RULES!
Then someone comes along and says, “Just write. A good story is the most important thing.”
And while I definitely agree, I have to say, if you don’t understand the other components, you will probably be in trouble.
“I love omniscient POV and my mom says it’s the best thing she’s ever read.”
Okay, can writers still use omniscient POV? Absolutely, if they understand how to do it well so that the reader isn’t jolted every time he’s dropped into someone else’s perspective. And honestly, Mom would love it if you wrote bad haiku on a roll of toilet paper. She doesn’t count. Not in this.
“Still, while I want to write a formulaic romance, I want to think outside the box and add a couple more POVs to the mix. Maybe even have an unhappy ending for those who love to cry over a great novel.”
Then write it, just don’t shop it around as formulaic romance.
“I’ll sit in my computer, let the creative juices flow, and write the best novel ever. Then my agent or editor will clean it up for me. And you know, they won’t mind. It’s gonna be THAT GOOD!!!!!!!”
Story trumps all, and thinking outside the box is awesome, but if you don’t know the rules and trends to begin with, how can you break them? How can you work outside the box if you don’t know what inside means?
And every writer wants to think that their method is the best. That they can do no wrong and agents and editors will fall down desperate to sign their work. At some point, there has to be a reality check-check-check. Are you truly writing magnificent work that’s outside the box, or are you stumbling along with a great idea and no inkling how to make it come together?
Yes, just write a wonderful story, then allow critique partners and those you trust in the industry to help you slap it into shape. Don’t assume that just because it’s a wonderful idea that anything goes.
Take classes, use critique partners, rewrite, and hopefully, eventually, you’ll find a home if it’s truly a great work of fiction.