TT's Rules of Writing #7 (Writing Tip #78)

Every now and then, do the OPPOSITE of what you would normally do in your writing.

Here's the thing--everybody has his or her own voice. It's true. The more you write, the more you discover that voice with all its potential and problems. The difference between writers and singers is that writers are able to tweak and change that voice over time. All singers are able to do is get out the Auto-Tune machine.

So as you're working on trying to figure out your voice as a writer, it's easy to get stuck in the same patterns. Sometimes you can get stuck in a rut. If you write a lot without having the benefit of editors and acquisitions people critiquing your work, then you won't be able to truly know what's working and what's not (and no, your mother's opinion doesn't count).

That's why I suggest to occasionally do things differently.

For those of you who have read many of my books, I hope you would agree when I say that I've constantly tried to do different things in my fiction. I've written in first person, third person, and even (gulp) second person. Past and present tense. I've had books that have spanned over a ten-year period and ones that have taken place in under twenty-four hours. And yes, I've even done the sweet, syrupy love stories and the not-so-sweet, bloody horror stories.

Do I do these things to be difficult? Well, let's not answer that one. But the main reason I've done stuff like this is to try and do things differently. I'm learning just like everybody else.

With my novel, Broken, I tried to tell a story in the opposite way of how I'd normally tell it. I eliminated most characters' interior thoughts. I completely eliminated italics. There's little backstory and lots of action. I did do journal entries which are reflective, but other than that I really tried to tell this story in a different way.

If you feel like you're getting stuck in a rut, do the opposite of what you'd normally do. Whether it's style or tone or genre--whether it's the chapter length or the paragraph length (again, something I've tried to vary over the years)--whatever it might be in your writing, shake things up a bit and do it differently.

You might surprise yourself and find the results are better than expected.

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