Beauty and the Beast opens tomorrow. I am in love with the Beast. And Lumiere. I have a special place in my heart for Lumiere. He was Bun Fu in Thoroughly Modern Millie last year, and I loved him then too (unfortunately, he's gay, but I can dream). He did some pretty fabulous/hilarious improv when Cogsworth the clock missed his cue today. This is quite honestly one of the worst tech weeks I've been involved in. But I've seen disasters magically pull themselves together on opening night, though, so I'm keeping my hopes up.
Okay, be open-minded before I say this. Don't come after me with pitchforks. Ready?
The past week I was frustrated with my writing. Everything I wrote seemed awkward and crappy. It took me hours to fill a page. Bad. Very bad. I don't have hours to spare. I've been reading craft books voraciously recently, and while this isn't the entire reason I had some writer's block (I hate using that term; I like to pretend writer's block doesn't exist), I realized something important. I was trying way too hard to shove all of those minute details of good writing into my head, and then concentrate on all of them as I wrote. This is not a good idea. I repeat, don't do this.
For one, as I reread Twilight (yes, I am rereading Twilight), I noticed Stephenie Meyer kind of...sort of...breaks every rule I've learned. Seriously. She doesn't start her fantasy with an immediate mention of fantastical elements (paranormal, whatever). On Miss Snark's First Victim, one of the biggest criticisms of the first 250 words for a fantasy is, "I don't see the fantastical element." Plus, SM's dialogue tags? She never uses "he said, she said." It's always, "he chuckled, she spat, he scowled, she stalled." (Now, I'm not saying SM is a literary genius, but like I've said before, she's published, she's successful, and she can tell a damn good story.)
It got me to thinking. I've been such a Nazi with my own dialogue tags. I decided, it's okay to use one of those words sometimes. The world will not fall down. Personally, my own story is quite obviously a fantasy within the first two chapters, but big freakin' deal if it's not. It's okay to use "was" sometimes. The sun will still appear over the horizon in the morning.
In other words, don't let your obsession with the rules make you lose your flair. Don't box your writing style into a neat, uniform package. Don't read supposedly "good" writing and decide to imitate it exactly. Do you get what I'm saying? I don't really even get what I'm saying, but it makes sense in my head. Too much standardization can scrub away charm.
Disclaimer: This is not permission for you to engage in bad writing. Don't think, "Oh, well suckiness is just my style." Yeah, suckiness can be your style if you don't want to get published, ever. But I'm saying it's okay if you bend the rules occasionally.
Captain Barbossa says, "We consider them to be more like guidelines."
That is my insight for today. Feel free to discuss, disagree, whatever.