Architecture and Air Freshener: Thursday’s Children

Welcome to the Thursday’s Children Blog Hop, where writers come together to share whatever inspires them throughout their writing journey. I’d like to thank our lovely hosts, Rhiann and Kristina, for inviting me to participate. Thank you! Make sure to check out the other bloggers via this Link List: http://www.linkytools.com/wordpress_list.aspx?id=191373&type=basic. We’d love for you to join us!

The inspiration for this post actually happened a couple of weeks back. I wrote the last scene I spoke of (in my Rugby and Razor Blades post) and then…nothing. No writing. NONE. It was as if my lovely Steampunk Alternate-History Dark Fantasy morphed into the Borg and I was suddenly Jean-Luc, resisting it with every fiber of my being. I didn’t know what my problem was. Well, I did rather.

I was breaking The Rules again, only this time I knew it.

You know The Rules I mean. The Rules our industry talks about. The Rules that define a good story, good writing, good novel. The Rules that tell us what readers, agents, editors, publishers loathe and love. The Rules that are often so contradictory we writers don’t know which end is up. I didn’t know The Rules while drafting all my previous stories. I wrote what I wanted to read. I wrote what I loved.

Hence my problem.

The Rules were getting in the way. I told myself my story was fine, hunched and misshapen as it was with all these broken Rules. (I don’t have just one prologue at the beginning—in which I address the reader—I have one for each of my twenty-two chapters. Twenty-two little proems that aren’t in the voice of my MC.) But it was too late, I’d already frozen. Gone deaf from all The Rules stomping around inside my head. I told my husband this while choking back tears. It truly worried him because he knows how much I love writing. And The Rules were crushing that love.

Then the smell of coconut air freshener. I think I was in Kmart. It transported me immediately to Florida. Palm trees and ocean breezes. Blue water, blue sky. White sun-warmed sand. I’m in desperate need of a vacation.


Florida is where I imagine my dream home. I’ve actually designed it. Every wall, window, doorway is exactly where I want it. Every balcony, arch, nook in the exact perfect place. I took drafting in high school and it’s a craving. Creating space and filling it. I’ll never be an architect—math and I have a love-hate relationship—but I will always draw. So I pulled out my dream home, changed some things. Edited and rewrote it, if you like. Polished it into something even more perfect than before.

I know The Rules of design. But they don’t get in my way. I draw what I want first. With love and abandon. Then I look at The Rules. I use them to my advantage to change what must be shifted. Some are absolute, like gravity, weight distribution, and 2+2 will always =4. Others not so much. I’ve learned to manipulate The Rules to achieve what I want. Seem to break them, even, with a little creative illusion.

I’m playing with an older ms for now, one I wrote before I knew The Rules, tweaking it the same way I did my house. When I’m ready, I’ll go back to my lovely, broken WIP. I can never go back to not knowing The Rules, but that’s okay. I learned that if I can design with love and abandon despite The Rules, then I can write the same way.

How about you guys?

30 Responses to “Architecture and Air Freshener: Thursday’s Children

  • For me it’s about knowing the reason for the rule. If I think the reason is sound, then I’m okay with the rule. If I think it doesn’t make sense generally, or doesn’t make sense in relation to my ms in particular, then screw the rule. Anarchy in the UK. Or the WIP, or something…

    • Lol! Thank you. You always make me smile 😉

      • I completely agree with Rhiann. You have to know the rules to make the decision to ignore them. And you did the best thing you could do: you set your WIP aside and worked on something else. Hope things are better now!

  • I wouldn’t worry about The Rules. I think the poems at the beginning of the chapters sounds really cool. You actually find that in some medieval manuscripts. I say go for it!

  • Kate I try to be sensible and grown up and kind of professional about the rules. But I’m with you. Maybe my book breaks most of them, and avid rule followers will hate it. But when I’m not worrying about them I love it. When they break into my mindset the whole thing freezes right up.

    I wonder if this is a stage that everyone has to face at some stage. I’m just not sure how willing I am to play by those rules…

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one. Thanks Raewyn!

  • I think the poems for each chapter sounds like a cool idea. I know I’ve seen it in a book before, but I can’t think of which book. Sorry.
    As far as the rules, just think of them as guidelines. I think you are talented enough to know when you’ll get away with something. 😀

    • Oh! Both you and Kristina said poem. A proem is just another term for prologue. Sorry for the confusion!! They’re each about 5 pages long. “Flashback” scenes of other important characters written in third person. See how many Rules I’m breaking, lol! Thank you for the vote of confidence though 🙂

  • I detest rules. Especially The Rules. I’m like you; I wrote a lot before I knew them, and I think they’re crippling.

    Like Rhiann said, it’s the reason behind the rule that’s important. If you have an equally logical reason for breaking the rule, then break the shit out of it.

    Also, some of the best narrative hooks out there are against The Rules. I think your proems sound fabulous. 😀

    I also love those fast instances of inspiration–a sight, a music note, a smell–that break you out of your melancholy and remind you of who you are and what you’re doing. Brilliant.

    Sidenote: I’m sorry I’m behind on beta-ing for you. D: I’m still catching up.

    • Thank you!! *smooshes* I love the bursts of inspiration too. And no worries on the beta! You’ve been busy, lol 🙂

  • Eff the rules! Don’t let them influence your manuscript and make it seem *safe*. Write the way you want, with lots of confidence in the choices you made, and people won’t notice. They’ll soak it in.

    Remember, the rules are a general guide. It’s the execution that matters.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • You’re right of course, now I just have to execute it well. Where’s my axe? Thanks, John! 🙂

  • Honey, write the book you want to write. I think it’s important to get it out. After that’s done, you can decide what rules (if any) apply. 🙂

  • That darn gravity. Always getting in the way. But that’s a tough one. You don’t want agents or publishers rolling their eyes and closing your manuscript, but I agree, sometimes you just gotta do what feels right to you and your work. For example, I know you’re not supposed to have your character ‘wake up’, especially at the start of the novel. But that’s exactly what I did, because it just felt right. Great post!

    • Yes, it’s super tough making these decisions. Glad you followed your instincts. Thanks!! 🙂

  • Rules are made to be broken! I think the way you’re approaching your writing now sounds like the best idea -applying the rules that will only improve your novel and not getting hung up on the rest. Writing what you love and in a way that you enjoy will come across to a reader – if you’ve forced yourself to write in a way because The Rules have dictated that will also come across and not necessarily in a good way…

    Oh, and your dream home in Florida… 🙂

    • That’s true. Readers know when something’s off. Thanks, Kate!! 🙂

  • Kate, this post sooooo spoke to me! I’ve have been there before..where you’ve put all this hard sacrificial work into your WIP and then this wall comes up and you’re somehow boxed in. And you try to get out, around it, through it and you’re seriously stuck. And in your mind is every rule you’ve ever read about glaring over your shoulder. It’s the worst feeling.
    Usually I throw myself down on the bed wailing that I’ll never be published 🙂
    I really love that you did something else creative before diving back into writing. And that you had the drive to keep writing.
    Sorry this is so late! I’m looking forward to reading your Thursday entry this week!

    • Hi, Jenna! YES. This is so it–the over the shoulder Rules. I’m keeping my drafting paper out from now on, lol 🙂 Thanks for visiting! <3

  • P.S. Holy cow, just read your story “back cover”. Um, where/when can I read this book!?!? This is one I’d love to read/hear more about. Any status on query response?

    • Aww, thank you!! It’s a roller coaster of interest with query responses–passes, fulls, partials, passes. Keeping my fingers crossed though. Are you on Twitter??

      • My really good friend just went through that. Has an agent and is on sub now.
        Okay I thought I was following you on twitter but it’s not you. Ha. I’m @JennaGWrites. Would love to follow you!

        • Haha! Just followed you 🙂 Congrats for your friend!

  • Yeah, rules shmules! No really, I’m similar to Rhiann as well… The rules that make sense, I’ve been able to incorporate into my head as I write.

    The others…meh…if everyone wrote by the same rules our reading options would be really depressing!

    Now, my first ms, that was before I knew, well, anything. I still plan to go back, but it needs such an overhaul, I’m not sure I’ll ever get there.

    Anyway, good for you…follow your heart and the rest will fall in place or something inspiration like that 😉

  • I think you’re right. Sometimes rules get in the way. Write what works for you.

    http://otherworlddiner.blogspot.com/2013/04/inspired-by-remarkable-unusual-and-true.html

    • I’m doing my best to ignore them during the draft. Some days it ain’t easy, lol!