By Lonnie Cruse
Lately I've been reading a collection of Mary Roberts Rinehart's books on my Kindle, and I'm enjoying the variety. I love her style, her humor, her characters, her . . . well, just about her everything. However, when reading her work, I can't help noticing how she wrote things back then that might earn her a huge smack-down from today's writers and critiquers. Like the "had I but known" syndrome. She uses it in nearly every chapter, yet today it's a "no no." Or so I'm told.
Which got me wondering, just WHEN did these rules came into play? Obviously not in Rinehart's day, or she wouldn't have been so popular. Would she?
As readers, we don't seem to care much about the "rules of writing" so long as the story is good and keeps us turning the pages to see what happens next. As writers, when we join critique groups or other writers' groups, we are told what works today and what does not. What the "rules of writing" are. And if we cross that line, somebody usually shoves us back across it with a stern warning. "No publisher will buy it if you write stuff like that! No one will read it if you put that in your book!" What am I talking about? Stuff like prologues, had-I-but-knowns, etc. And yet, modern-day writers sometimes break those rules, too, and get away with it.
So I'm wondering if it isn't at least somewhat up to the reader's taste? Rules are made, rules are broken, in writing. Readers notice and quit reading, or they don't notice/don't know the rules/don't even care, because the writing is so good, and they keep on reading. Rinehart's writing is that good for me.
Are you, as a reader, aware of the rules of writing? If you are, how do they affect you when reading? Do you toss the book or stick with it? And as a writer, how much attention do you pay to the "rules of writing?" A lot? A little? Not at all? And how does it affect you in getting published? Writerly minds wanna know.
As always, thanks for stopping by! Oh, and by the way, what ARE you currently reading? Modern day? Vintage? Both? Neither?
I'm also reading Donna Andrews' SWAN FOR THE MONEY. That woman could break every rule in the book and I'd still read her. I do have to be careful not to fall out of bed once I start laughing. Sigh.