The winner of the Linda Poitevin tote bag is Elaine! Congratulations!

Here’s what Elaine asked Linda:

And here was Linda’s response:

Linda’s advice provides a great segue into my post–the importance of adapting and finding what works.

As I mentioned last week, I went to the Desert Dreams conference. Here’s a picture of me in the Hospitality Suite (carrying too much stuff as usual). I’m the one in blue.

I picked up a lot of useful nuggets at the conference, which I referenced in a previous post. I’ll be going over all them all in coming weeks. Last week was loglines. This week is how to follow the rules (and then break them as needed).

Here’s an overall overview of what I learned, from last week’s post:

  • Write not only because you love it, but to make others’ lives better.
  • How to compose a logline that’s more likely to land.
  • You can be a squeaky wheel without being an obnoxious one (don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, and be smart about it).
  • Learn the rules–of writing, of querying, etc. But then customize to what works for you (a formula for one person won’t work for everyone). 

Bob Mayer conducted a great workshop at the conference–he has a lot of wisdom to impart. (Bob has a great blog and book series called Write it Forward. Be sure to check it out.) In his workshop, he talked about rule-breaking (referenced here).

I’ve adapted what Bob said about rule-breaking to suit my own needs, seen below:

1. Know the rule

Rules cannot be broken unless you know them first. One example of a commonly known rule is to have index cards handy when pitching to agents. Grammar is another good example. A lot of authors break grammatical rules in their writing–but they’re only successful when they know the rules they’re breaking in the first place.

2. Break the rule

Once you know the rule, you can break it. If you figure out overall sentence structure, you can adapt it to make your dialogue more realistic. If fully written index cards don’t work for you, you can outline your main points instead.

3. Accept the consequences

Be prepared in case the rule-breaking doesn’t work. Your dialogue might fall flat. Your agent may not be interested in your material. Dust yourself off, and try again tomorrow.

Another writer at the conference said that there’s no magic bullet in how to get published. And this is absolutely true. You have to find what works for you. Attend workshops, and stay as informed as possible, and always take advice–only the flexible survive, as they say. But at the end of the day, you alone know what’s best for you and your writing. And sometimes that might involve a little informed rule-breaking.

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