There were a number of comments today on the writing sample I analyzed yesterday. D.E. Hale wrote:
Ok, see now I’m confused. I understand that a “rule” can be broken, but how do you know when to split up the motivations and reactions into separate paragraphs, and when to leave them all bunched up together? You mentioned that since there was no conflict that it wasn’t necessary to split it up into paragraphs, but I think I still would have.
This is a good question. I would keep the motivations and reactions all together here because it would start feeling very choppy to break them off into separate paragraphs. This sequence is leading up to some action, but the action hasn’t started yet, so I think it’s best to just blitz on through and get to the action.
There is a deeper question, however: How do you know when to break the “rules?”
My answer is that you are allowed to break the rules after you have mastered them. The rules are just rules of thumb that help suggest the reason that you are failing to create a Powerful Emotional Experience. But if you ARE creating a Powerful Emotional Experience, then there is no reason to apply any rules. In my opinion, Pam’s done a fine job of launching this scene. So I wouldn’t change it, other than to fix that phrase “her heart lept in her throat” to “her heart leapt into her throat.”
I’d say we’ve about chewed all the sugar out of this stick of gum, so let’s move on.
How about another little contest? In my Snowflake method, I teach people to write a one-sentence summary of their novel. Let’s hear yours!
Post a one-sentence summary of your current work in progress. The most intriguing entry (in my sole judgment) before midnight PST on Friday night will win a free critique of one page of your novel by me.