I’ve taken a g’zillion classes online and at numerous conferences, okay, not exactly a g’zillion, but it feels like it. I also present at conferences. Teach at small groups. And so and so on. And I feel like I’m touting the company line. At least, all that I’ve learned over the last twenty or so years through extensive reading and all of those conferences and classes.
And here’s where I get upset. We are teaching other writers specific basics and rules, and when they enter contests or submit their work the first time around, they are judged by these so-called basics that are expected of them. You know a few of them: no head hopping, cut the adverbs, and avoid as many of the inane dialogue tags as possible and others.
And I have to say, I agree with most of those. Not carved in granite, but I understand the logic behind them. Yes, I understand you have to know the rules before you can break them. But I just finished a bestseller, and I must say, very good historical fiction but it broke them all. Nearly all dialogue tags included adverbs as well as pages of prose with adverbs not sprinkled for flavor, but the main course. And head-hopping? Oh, yeah. I had to keep rereading to be sure who was thinking. I sure wasn’t. I was long lost.
I’ve never minded head hopping as long as the head we are in is clear. I’m not adverse to adverbs like a lot of folks, though I don’t particularly use them, and I don’t mind most dialogue tags. Okay, they do irritate me. Especially men growling and barking and women who purr and coo. I don’t get that. Not at all. In fact, it really turns me off a novel when there’s a bunch of that in place of good old she said/he asked and solid enough verbs that they don’t need the adverbs.
So, I’ve got my pantyhose in a knot. We tell writers one thing when judging their entries in contests, when classes are taught, and when most edits come through, but we reward writers, and readers seem to like authors who do exactly the opposite.
Help me out here, I’ve got my pantyhose in a knot again.