Thursday, May 10, 2012

An Interesting Mini-Conference

Last Saturday, May 5th, I went to a mini-conference with Angela James as the main speaker. Angela is an editor with Carina Press, and from what I understand, in high demand for her editing skills and her insights into the writing world. She has a web site where she promotes her self-editing course and speaks to groups around the country.

I have to say I learned a lot, but was also puzzled by her beginning remarks, and they left a standing impression on me--There are no rules.

I was stunned, what did she mean by that? What about all the rules I have been taught from my writing coach? Or even in discussions with critique partners? There has to be rules, doesn't there?

She told us that you can head hop, POV (point of view) switch at any time, and even that adverbs, and adjectives were okay, just as long as it's done sparingly and with the realization that a lot of use of these will signal a "lazy writer". She even said that it's okay to tell not show. That these things are all about the 'writer's voice'.

Now, I mean to tell you, I was flabbergasted! After that, she went on to discuss each one of the grammar rules that are important, such as when and why a comma,  when to capitalize a title, spelling, no double punctuation's, and the like.

So, there are some rules, and good rules mind you, and it really got me to thinking about all of this. After discussing this with my husband after I got home, I came to the realization as to why this all has changed, and I have to say, I don't think for the better. The reason I came up with is because so many people are self-publishing any more, and they are not paying for editing, but just putting their books out there. The funny thing is, some of these books have become popular, mainly due to the fact that it's a good story, and readers don't think about the rules I listed before. Head hopping and POV switches don't even faze them. Why? Because they aren't writers.

I now finally understand why, as I mentioned in earlier posts, these issues had been driving me crazy, it's because practically anything goes. How can you fight the fact that books with all these issues are still popular? As a publisher, or even an agent, you have to go with the flow.

But, even though any thing goes, I have decided that my book will continue down the path of, in my opinion, excellent writing skills. I believe to allow myself to fall into the 'it's okay, it doesn't matter' category, would be selling my book short and also compromising my writing integrity. In order to look professional, you need to act it.

There are still those who will see the mistakes and talk about them, such as I did in earlier posts, and I don't believe in taking the easy road just to get my book out there. I want my book to be the best it can be before I release it out to the public. I want people to enjoy the writing and not be stopped in the middle of it by lazy writing skills.

So, kudos to those who take the time to do in right, and take pride in putting forth the best. I do believe that those will end up being the exception in the long run, and as time goes by, the ones that will truly shine!

Leave me a comment, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend and I look forward to your insights.

Love, Lisa


  1. I am not a professional or even very skilled writer, my little bit of experience comes from what I learned in College and even highschool. I do enjoy reading and when I take the time to read a book, I want it to be a well written one. I know enough to be able to appreciate a good quality novel. So many books these days are "OK" at best. And what I don't understand is people still rave over them! I think almost anyone could think of a somewhat interesting idea for a story, the talent comes in when actually writing it; telling the story, making it come to life, describing it so other people can enjoy it and actually be transported into it. Actually completing the story from beginning to end in a coherent manner, and keeping people interested all the while...THAT is where the real skill comes in. Letting the reader paint their own pictures while also guiding them into the author's vision (without drowning them with unnecessary descriptions), THAT is what I enjoy while reading a book. Using punctuation and grammar properly so that it's easy to understand and not a chore to read. I'm not even going to bother reading the latest craze due to the fact the reviews claim it is poorly written. Why waste my time? Author's need to put in their due diligence and take the time to turn a good idea into a great novel. Many of the readers out there can still tell the difference!!! I'd rather wait for a quality written yours.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said! I also appreciate you saying you want to read my book! I am looking forward to you doing so and thanks so much for the post!

  3. Amen to you Lisa and to Jenna.

    I think it's worth all the work to put a quality piece out, whether it's self published, e-published, or traditionally published.

    That's why we put ourselves in the line of fire with critique. That's why we listen to the "rules" of the writing coach. That's why we want feedback from our audience.

    I want my book to be good...not just good, but great! I don't want my readers to put it down after chapter two and say "What the hell did I buy that for?"

    I agree that voice is important, and even Janet has admitted that the rules are meant to be bent, even broken, at times for the sake of voice (this is one of the areas she and Stephen King agree on).

    So, let's continue to work diligently on our babies and publish books worth reading!