Rules of writing.
Just the thought of that phrase scares me. I don’t know about you, but English wasn’t one of my favorite classes in school. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the literature part, but all the rules of writing made my head spin. I didn’t want to know all that. I just wanted to read. I wanted to get so lost in the pages of a good book that I wasn’t even aware of reading the words, much less whether all the rules of writing were followed.
Those very same writing rules are what makes a good story so good though. Yeah, you have to start with a good story, but if you have to work at reading it, if everything didn’t fit and flow, it wouldn’t be as much fun. Taking a leisurely walk down a forest trail wouldn’t be as enjoyable if you kept tripping over tree roots and branches.
So, what to do?
If you’re expecting this post to give a brief, concise synopsis of writing rules, I’m afraid you’re mistaken. If I knew them, I wouldn’t be concerned about them and therefore the need for this post would be non-existent. What I am going to talk about is my own concerns and fears about my lack of writing education and what I could possibly do to remedy my ignorance.
Am I Good Enough?
I ask myself that question a lot. Not, am I smart enough…I’m not stupid. Not, can I come up with a killer story…I’ve got an imagination that kicks ass. I just wonder sometimes if I know enough about the rules of writing to make my killer story a good read. Will I be able to make readers lose themselves in the adventure of my tale?
I have no formal education in the writing process. I read a lot, but I must confess, I am too busy bringing the story to life in my head to pay attention to sentence structure and punctuation.
Will I even be able to spot my errors? I’ve read over some of my work and found several errors that I’d previously missed. How many of them still remain though? You have to know what you’re looking for to find it. That’s what worries me most. I’m afraid that when I finally get my manuscript finished and start the editing/re-writing process, I won’t be able to see everything that needs fixing.
That’s what editors are for, right?
I’ve had people tell me that. I’ve also had people tell me that you can’t be a writer if you don’t know the rules of writing. No one is perfect though. Editors have that job for a reason, every manuscript needs editing. If we were perfect writers, they’d be out of a job. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try and write the best I can though. I wouldn’t want my story to be rejected simply because of my lack of writing skills.
So, once again, what to do?
For starters, I joined a writing group. I found mine on Meetup. In my area, there are 4 or 5 writing groups you can join. I am a member of 2 but I usually only have time for meetings with one group. Both are full of very nice people who are supportive and helpful. I can’t begin to tell you how much I’ve learned from some of the writers in my group. It’s been amazing for me. If you can find a writing group that meets in person in your area, I suggest you give it a try. There are also tons of writing groups online. Find one that fits. There are plenty to choose from. I belong to one on AOL that has meetings several times a week.
If you can’t find any groups you feel comfortable with, you might try contacting an English teacher at a local High School or College. If they aren’t able to help you, chances are, they will be able to direct you to someone who can, like a college student majoring in writing.
If all else fails, there’s always the library. There are lots of books on writing. I have several myself, although as of yet, none of them that focus on grammar (as you can probably tell from my writing). We’re all a “work in progress” though, right?
I just hope I’m progressing!