It was time. The book was ready to be written. Counting the ones never finished, I suppose it would be my fifth. This time, however, was going to be different. I read the writing courses, studied the rules, studied the material of some of the most successful writers, and better yet took a course by one of the best editors who had edited some of the best authors ever. All my typed notes on how to write a commercial success needed a two-inch notebook to hold them.
Character creation, the story arch, tension, plot types, turning points, plot twists, and classic story outlines; hours had been spent doing the exercises. The lead female character that had all the proper elements. She and all the supporting characters were created with a template created from the fusion of some the best character creation methods. After months of study and work, everything was down to following an outline, and filling in the details. The surprise would be in the details
Then suddenly, the inspiration vanished. Who wants to follow a bunch of rules and fill in blanks? Still, that was what needed to have any chance of even a small commercial success. I put the folder with the printed outline and carefully constructed characters in my basement.
Maybe I was actually more interested in what I wanted to say and write than to entertain as many readers as humanly possible – that was the first rule to be broken. The action is another rule – there must always be action and conflict in every scene of a fiction novel, and especially in the dialogue. No one wants to read long narrative typical of the 19th century anymore. Not having enough action is to bring certain death before the work is even published.
It’s one thing to not know the rules and write not using them from lack of knowledge, and another to break them once you have learned and practiced them. That is when the idea for “The Old Dirt Road” was born. It was an idea for a completely different book than the one that was outlined, the one down in my basement. Hell with the rules. To hell with successful formulas.
Life is about exploring deeper and more meaningful things. So what if only 100 people ever read this new work it and the reviews are bad. Another rule was broken – Do not write what you like, rather write what the readers want and like. Don’t we have enough of that already? Think how many follow those people following the so-called rules fail anyway. There is never a guarantee.
Life is too short. Time is running out. We need to do what drives us, or makes us tick and not just jump through hoops for the approval and money of others. With a blog, a person can write whatever they wish, work out ideas, their values, explore the purpose of existence, reflect on the import things of life and even work out book ideas. And if the book is never done – so what?
Paul Nieto – The Old Dirt Road