Monday, June 28, 2010

There is No Consistency

I'm going to share a deep, dark secret that I've discovered: there is no consistency with writing.

Okay, now I'll explain a bit further.

I've written a brilliant book. It's scathingly brilliant. It's absolutely brilliant. It's brilliant brilliant. Okay, maybe that's only in my mind.

The book began as 12 Chapters w/three sections (i.e., perspectives) per Chapter. Then, the book grew to 24 Chapters. Well, technically, there was more story to tell, so I wrote the sequel, but then decided that a sequel wasn't necessary and effortlessly turned two books into one. Voila!!!

Then, there's the whole industry wide standard that your book must be this # of words for this genre thingy!

My brilliant world crashed down around me! What's a guy to do? Yes, drinking plenty of margaritas was an option. Throwing myself into a volcano was an option. Jumping off a cliff . . . Well, other than margaritas, the only option was: split the book in two (again) or eliminate enough words to drive an insane man sane . . . or vice versa.

I chose the elimination of words. Yea, Me!

Woe, is me! OMG, I had to eliminate 40,000 + words! 40,000 + words!

Somebody pass me a margarita.

Onwards and downwards (the word count, that is) I plunged into the elimination fray. I made progress. Slow, very slow progress. There was no way in a very hot place I was ever going to eliminate enough words.

Oh, wait, what is that in the distance? Is it the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel?

Yea, Me!

The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel was the epiphanous moment where I realized that I could easily (far too easily) eliminate one of the sections in the first twelve chapters of my brilliant book. Woo-hoo! And the words came tumbling out of my brilliant novel.

Yea, Me!

Woe is me!

How can Part I only have two sections per Chapter and Part II have three sections per Chapter? My life, as I knew it, was over. I would have to shelve the book, give up the dream, and move on to something else.

Wait, woe is not me. Yea, is me! Why? Well, dear readers, let me tell you why: there is no consistency in writing! I don't mean the actual words to page. I mean the actual published books out there by debut and established authors.

Sherlock Holmes switches from first person to third person in one book. Yes, first to third then back to first! Is that consistent? Of course not!

An author tells the majority of the story from one perspective and then, the last three chapters, adds a second perspective. Is that consistent? Of course not!

I have a brilliant novel that has two perspectives per Chapter for the first twelve chapters, and then three perspectives per Chapter for the last twelve chapters. Is that consistent?

Everyone: OF COURSE NOT!

There is no consistency with writing. We as authors - aspiring or otherwise - have total control over our writing. Yes, an agent, editor or publisher might take issue with our total control, but . . . until they do, we do as we must, because we must do as we do.

So, always, remember: there is no consistency with writing. Read a book, read a dozen, and look for the non-consistency. You'll find it, my friends, in book after book written by both debut and established authors.



Elizabeth McKenzie said...

I hope there's rule about how many sections are in a chapter, because I'm in trouble if there is.

You're right, though, there is no consistency. Thanks for the post.

Scott said...

Elizabeth - if there is a rule about that, I haven't heard about it, and I'm planning on keeping it that way. Ha! Seriously, I think it's pretty much anything goes lately from what I've been seeing in the books I'm reading.

Velvet Over Steel said...

You are absolutely right! I have 5 boses. Two are 'writers' via education and totally different. One is 'old school' all about writing 'rules'. The other one is totally 'creative'! I can see the balance in them both and have learned a LOT from them both. I'm sure neither one 'secretly' approves of my style, because frankly, I don't have a style. My post is just what pops into my mind at the moment. Seriously! My only consistantly is that I 'write' from my heart and soul. I try to be as honest and authentic as I possibly can be through my writing. That's it!
Great post & blog! So glad I stumbled upon you, so I can follow. I know I can learn so much from you!!! Thank you for sharing with us all!!

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Interesting post! I don't believe in rules. I believe in doing what you need to do in order to make your book good and worthy of publication, but that's such a huge sliding scale that I think most of us go crazy trying to figure it all out. All part of the job. :)