It’s time for another episode of Three by Three, wherein I attempt to threaten, cajole, and bribe three publishing pros into giving me three tips/advice/feedback on a particular topic relevant to publishing. This time around I’m turning to writers, and the topic is, “What are three lines you won’t cross as a writer?” I didn’t specify anything particular with this, just left it open to be interpreted any way they wished. Most writers have their own limits. While we certainly love to push boundaries and challenge ourselves, most all of us have certain things that, when it comes up, we say, “Nope, sorry. I’m not going there.” It might be a simple thing. It might be for personal or political reasons. Whatever the cause, we have those story or character elements that just won’t make it into our stories. You’ll just have to find it somewhere else.
Joining the blog today with their experience/expertise are: Urban Fantasy author, Stacia Kane (www.staciakane.net); YA author Hannah Moskowitz (www.untilhannah.com); and Romance author, Victoria Dahl (www.victoriadahl.com). Below is their feedback (in no particular order of importance), which I would like to thank them heartily for (I’d give out cookies if I could). As a writer/reader, I’m curious to hear what everyone’s thoughts are on this topic. What lines won’t you cross in your writing or don’t want to see as a reader?
- I would never tell another writer that there’s a wrong way to write a story.
- I can’t write a romance between two characters who don’t respect each other. For me, love & respect are irrevocably intertwined.
- Unfortunately, the 3rd line I won’t cross as a writer is collaboration. It’s sad, and I don’t know why, but the idea of working on a book with someone else gives me hives. It might have something to do with my deadly allergy to obligation. I hope to find a cure someday.
- Little Kids. I won’t kill little kids. I don’t even like to hurt little kids. Once they hit about thirteen that can change, but little kids? No. Not only do I just not like it, I think it’s often a lazy shortcut for shock value.
- Politics. I believe good fiction, no matter the genre, should say something about humanity/the human condition. I don’t believe good fiction needs to say something about flat tax, at least not MY fiction. I definitely write about social issues, but I dislike dealing with specific parties or whatever, and I hate stereotypes of political sides as “good” or “evil.”
- Body Humor. Yeah, I guess this one is a stretch, but it’s there just the same. I don’t do bodily function jokes. Yuck.
- I won’t leave the reader without hope. If it’s in the middle of the story and it looks hopeless, I’m doing my job, but I will never, ever write an entirely hopeless ending. It’s cruel.
- I won’t be experimental just to be experimental. If I do anything untraditional with narrative technique or format, I’m doing it because it’s what’s best for the story. I am not trying to win a prize for the most postmodern book in the world. I have absolutely no problems with a straightforward, chronological novel. I’m not here to screw with you.
- I will not break contracts with the reader. You’re never going to find out at the end of one of my books that one character was right about everything the whole time. No one’s ever going to swoop in and save the day singlehandedly. I will not throw in a twist that contradicts the point of the story, or that doesn’t work for the characters, or is only there for shock value. I will work to keep your trust. I will write the book I promise to from the first page.