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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Can You Ignore the Rules?

I recently read a book where the climactic scene - a murder - came 2/3 of the way through the book. The book had dragged a bit in the middle but if it had ended shortly after the climax, I would have considered it a good read.

But it didn't. It went on for nearly one hundred pages - with wrap-ups.

There are rules to writing. Some are written; some are taught at universities and through online writing courses. Some are unwritten and simply understood by the industry at large.

One of those rules is the climactic scene occurs near the end of the book. It is followed by a wrap-up, but the wrap-up needs to be tight and short.

When I asked the author about it, I discovered he'd self-published and his attitude was he didn't have to follow any rules, because he was his own publisher.

Ah. Is that so?

The problem with such maverick thinking is the arguments most often don't work in reality. The name of the game is selling books - and unless an author has millions of personal acquaintances or a platform similar to a celebrity's, it means often people will read the book who have no ties to the author. They expect a certain rhythm, which includes a climactic scene toward the end of the book and a short cool-down period - "the wrap-up". When the book goes on and on explaining what should have occurred prior to the climax, what incentive exists for the reader to continue reading? There is no suspense. The story is really over. Why explain what we just read?

Have you ever read a book like that? How did you feel about it?