By Deri Pryor, Graduate Assistant, Bluegrass Writers Studio
How progressive are you? How well do you handle change? How willing are you to try something new, no matter how crazy? What does this have to do with writing?
We live in a very fluid world. As time marches on, things are changing exponentially faster. The rapidity of technological advances is staggering. Our world is shrinking as we find ourselves able to send and receive information faster and faster, and in ways we wouldn’t have though possible just a decade ago. I mean, phone watches were the stuff of James Bond movies yesterday; today you can get them at the strip mall.
The point I’m making is that change is inevitable and fast. And nothing is immune to it. Not even writing. What was “right” just a short time ago is now a matter of preference. Some things are deemed just plain wrong now, like two spaces after a period (apparently quite the sore spot with many old-schoolers), while other rules are still clung to despite being archaic, such as starting sentences with the word “but.” [space space] But I digress.
Then there is the debate of Literature with a gloriously blazing, uppercase “L” versus genre, which some would spell with a smaller “g” than lowercase if they could get away with it. Which is better? Which is proper?
Does it matter?
We are kind of in an “anything goes” period in our society. We are struggling to learn to be open minded, not to judge, to be tolerant and accepting. In that vein, we should use this freedom in our writing. More than ever we are seeing authors bend rules, break barriers, blaze into new territory.
Are we willing to keep up? Are we willing to look at ourselves objectively and see if we are stuck in a rut or letting ourselves be hemmed in by rules we once thought were irrefutable? Are we clinging too hard to old ideas and beliefs, thinking somehow it makes us stand above those who happen to write differently than us or are willing to experiment?
Are these questions making you uncomfortable?
If so, then you may not be seeing the most potential in your writing, or in the writing of others. Taking risks in writing is scary, and leaves us vulnerable to attack by those less brave or open minded. However, nothing worth having comes with zero risk.
When I talk of bending rules, I’m talking about pushing into discomfort zones. Obviously there are certain rules that we should adhere to. Don’t mix metaphors. Have a basic plot. Don’t make your vampires sparkle.
Other elements can be molded to fit our needs. Experiment with voice and structure. Try a non-linear story line. Break the fourth wall. Even if it doesn’t work, trying it is an exercise in flexing your writing muscles. Writers are doing it all around us with success. With the staggering amount of books hitting shelves every year, not being willing to stand out as an individual with something unique to offer means being overlooked and left behind.
Published on October 19, 2015