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Breaking the Rules

There are so many ‘rules’ which writers are supposed to abide by. “Only write what you know”. “Write your first draft long hand”. “You should write at least three books before you try to get published”. “You MUST know your target audience”. “You NEED a social media platform”.

There are many more. There are rules about drafts, and revising and querying and twitter use and whether you should write at night or in the morning and whether you should use a laptop or a pad of paper.

Some rules make TOTAL sense, like not querying until your book is finished. Some rules are more like habits or routine – like whether you listen to music or have complete silence. But some rules are made to be broken.

The rules that are made to be broken are the ones that close you off as a writer, that limit your story, that make you think that you can’t put THAT in a story.

*Take for example, a YA fantasy with no romance. Surely the first thing most people think about in YA books is the inevitable all consuming romance between our protagonist and a GORGEOUS boy with *probably* supernatural powers. Surely a romantic relationship is the only way to show your readers that your YA character is becoming an adult.

BUT your YA novel has no romantic relationship in it. You trawl through blogs, each one emphasizing the importance of romance in YA novels, you read agent interviews where it is categorically stated that they would not take on a YA novel if there was no love story.

You start to panic every time you sit down at your computer. Your hands clam up at the thought of writing another word of your pathetically hopeless forever alone story. You read and re-read your draft. You start to think that maybe, somehow, somewhere you can fit a romance in your book.

STOP.

Break the rule. Push the boundary. 10 years ago it was unheard of to have LGBT characters in YA books ( and there is still FAR too few) but there would have never been ANY if one person hadn’t pushed the boundary and broke that rule. If Twilight/The Vampire Diaries/ True Blood hadn’t of happened to Vampires, would that have ever become a trend?

Write the book YOU want to write. Write the story that has been sitting in your head for years gathering dust. Write the characters as they appear to you – whether that be gay, straight, black or white. Don’t pay attention to trends or current ‘rules’. Don’t let your writing become enclosed in certain genre expectations.

Write YOUR book, and don’t care how many rules you break along the way.

*This is just an example. I’m SURE there are loads on YA fantasy books with no romance! If you know a good one – please tell me  – I’m always on the lookout!

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