Friday, July 25, 2008


I read a Dean Koontz novel for the first time a couple of weeks ago.  I had hesitated.  I know a lot of people who love his stuff.  But I'm not really into suspense.  I don't go for scary stuff or supernatural stuff.  Not because it scares me.  I just don't go there.

Anyway, my sister, Julie, who's internet is down, by the way, kept saying, "You have to read Odd Thomas."  She said it a lot.  And so I looked at the cover and thought, "He sees dead people?  Sounds familiar."  And I put it down.  But then my MOM read it.  And I thought, "If mom read it, then I can read it."  So I did.

It is an excellent book.  Yes, it does have ghosts wandering around, including a crying Elvis.  And it has these creepy black spirit things.  But the scariest part of the book is the people.  People with evil intentions.

The main character Odd, is very odd, and yet lovable.  I laughed a lot while reading the book.  I also sobbed.  

Anyway, here's the thing.  In the writing world there are all these "rules".  Show - don't tell.  Be active - passive is bad.  Don't say anything that does not contribute to the plot.  Stuff like that.

Dean Koontz doesn't follow the rules.  I mentioned that to people and they said, "Yeh, but he's Dean Koontz."  Like that gives him allowance to break the rules.  My thought is, he wasn't always "the" Dean Koontz.  He used to be Dean, a guy trying to sell a book.

I wonder if he is Bestseller Dean Koontz because he breaks the rules?  I wonder which came first?  And at the very least it tells us that readers don't care about the rules.  They just want to read a great story that is well written. 

I keep thinking that a really good writer can use the word "was" all they want and get away with it.

So my goal is to be a really good writer, rather than worry about all the rules.  Because to tell the truth, they are just sucking the life right out of me.  I am at the brink of throwing in the towel as I speak.  I think I need to write with the story in mind and not even think about publication.  Writing with the idea that I need to please certain people just doesn't work for me.  So, if I write - because right now, I don't want to - it will be simply to tell the story the best I can.  

I'll still learn and read and take courses, etc.  But I am not going to write with "what they want" in mind.  Doesn't work.  For me.  Never does.  In any part of my life.  I'm not a "figure out what they want and offer it" person.  I'm a "here's what I'm offering, take it or leave it" person.  The same is true for cooking, leading a Bible Study or starting a ministry, or whatever.  

Ok, now.  I'm not saying I'm above the rules.  Don't go telling me if I want to get published I have to follow the rules.  I'm not writing with publication in mind remember?  I just need to get the book finished.

Once it's finished, I may change my focus. Then the rules may factor in.  I may decide to edit with publication in mind.  We'll see.


  1. I wish you the best Kay and I'd read your book just because you wrote it! I enjoy your writing style and your attitude of take it or leave it and I believe you only want to please the Lord!

  2. Kay, when I've taught writing to students, I usually just say, "Write anything down that you want to. Then when you proofread, you can change it all." The main thing, I think, is to get something down on paper. This works for me when I've written monologues, skits, articles, etc. Once I have it down, I have something I can work with. What usually happens is that I like my first draft and usually I don't have to make major changes as in starting over. This is my method. Maybe it could work for you--no real rules needed in the first draft.

  3. queen, you're right. That's what they say. I've heard it called the "first vomit" just get it out.

    But just knowing that the rules are out there is enough to hinder me. So I have to pretend that there are no rules.

    In any kind of creational endeavor the technical part always gets in my way. I don't want that part. I just like the art. Whether its music, drawing, painting, photography or writing. But unfortunately all of those require some technical knowledge or else we just have a big mess.

  4. I probably wouldn't say this to everyone, but we seem to have a few things in common. I was where you are not long ago. And I got discouraged. And ticked off.

    Because of a situation similar to what you just posted about. Then I pretended there were no rules. And it works for people like us. The thing is, we'll never forget there are no rules, but we can give ourselves permission to break the rules (and I'm rebellious like that) and then it feels GOOD to break them. Really good. Like leather chaps on a Harley good. Like Chocolate Ice Cream for breakfast good.

    And the story comes out good.

    And most of the time, the rules that we broke are okay too. I've found myself going back and fixing a few "show don't tell" spots but, let's face it. It's called storytelling for a reason. Storyshowing is a movie.

  5. Dean is my favorite author.

    If your local library has it, check out his writing book: How to Write Best Selling Fiction. Although dated, it's the best I've read.

  6. Thanks Michelle. That helps.

    Dayle, I've seen you mention that book before. I'll look for it.

    Robin, thanks for your kind words!

  7. No rules, just write!!

    Sounds like a plan.

    A prisoner of hope,

    PS: Like the new header photo

  8. I'm a big supporter of "Forget the rules". The rules are guidelines (Thank you, Captain Barbossa). If you let them "rule" you, you'll not hear the story play its song from your heart.

    Let go of them, Kay. Write your passion.

    Read some of it out loud after setting it aside. Ponder the story, not how it "should" be written.

    After a time away, see what you might change. Right now: just write.

  9. "Yeh, but he's Dean Koontz."/"Yeh, but (s)he's [fill in any famous author)." Thsi a a quote I think only snobs us when they want to seem so erudite and try to crush any creativity out of another writer.

  10. Hooray! I feel the same way. I was reading a how-to book and thought, there is no way I can follow all of these rules! People, including teachers, have appeared at least to like my writing. Besides, I am not aiming for publication at this late date. I write stuff for the fun of doing it now. I seem to prefer short stories because I want to get to the point..... and have a hard time coming up with "filler". Go for it, kiddo!

  11. Hello,
    I enjoy reading books that "talk" to me, if you know what I mean. King also has a flowing style, but Koontz is my fav. right now. That doesn't mean I like everything/subject he writes about, but I enjoy the feeling that I'm being talked to...just normal language. Ive read books that I have had to re read sections because they seem too formal...maybe those were rules?

  12. I wrote a book...oh...three years ago. My writing style is the same as yours. Write it. WHAT RULES?! Someone told me you can't do that. I said, "I did." I like the book. I'll send you the prologue. Tell me what you think. Tim


I love to hear your thoughts!