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Monday, February 23, 2015

Guest Post from author of A Killing at the Creek: An Ozarks Mystery, Nancy Allen

Six Writing Rules I Cannot Follow  By Nancy Allen

When I was writing my first book in the Ozarks Mystery series, The Code of the Hills, I read every piece of writing advice I could find, scouring the internet for nuggets of wisdom. I absorbed many tips, so much wise counsel. But what I recall best are the rules I routinely break. I thought I’d share the top six writing rules I simply can’t follow.

Really? Every day?!? What about my birthday? National holidays? How about Thanksgiving??? On Thanksgiving, I have to make a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, and clean up afterwards. I can’t write my own name on Thanksgiving.
Yesyesyes, I understand: if you want to be a writer, you have to write. But I suspect that those who declare that they write every day without fail are fibbers.

Ooooohhh, that sounds so luxurious: like Ernest Hemingway in Key West, typing away in his writer’s den.
But like most writers, I have a day job: I’m on the law faculty at Missouri State University. I write at odd times and places: in my living room chair, in the parking lot waiting to pick up my kid after practice, in the passenger seat of a car. For me, the magic isn’t in a designated spot. The key is to seize the available moment when it appears.

Damn! I hate that one. Because sometimes, something is like something else. I LOVE a good metaphor.

I find this piece of literary advice soooo cliché.

Well, I’ll be dog.
My novels are set in the Ozark hill country. Believe me, there are regional speech patterns that are unique to the setting. In fact, what you’uns call regional dialect is what we’uns consider everyday speech.

I try, really.
Cut every unnecessary word.
Cut unnecessary words.
Cut words.
Hmmmm. Something was lost in the process. Must ignore Rule #6 and reinsert words. 

So those are a few of the rules that I’ve thrown to the winds. I’m not advocating that anyone should follow my bad example. I’m kind of a rabble-rouser, a rule-breaker from way back—just like my protagonist, the incorrigible Ozarks prosecutor, Elsie Arnold. Check her out in my new book, A Killing at the Creek. She’s one of a kind!
Nancy Allen
February 17, 2015
Witness Impulse
Fiction / Legal
$2.99 USD, $2.99 CAD, £1.99, €2.40

Prosecutor Elsie Arnold loves her small-town home in the Ozark hills, but she’s been waiting for a murder to come along and make her career. So when a body is found under a bridge, throat cut, Elsie jumps at the chance to work on the case, even if it’s alongside the brash new chief assistant, Chuck Harris—and her latest flame, Detective Bob Ashlock.

But when the investigation reveals that the deceased woman was driving a school bus, and the police locate the vehicle, its interior covered in blood, the occupant and only suspect is a fifteen-year-old boy. Elsie’s in for more than she bargained for.

Win or lose, this case will haunt her. No one has successfully prosecuted a juvenile for first-degree murder in McCown County. If she loses, it’s her career on the line and a chilling homicide unresolved; if she wins, a boy’s liberty will be taken from him before he reaches his sixteenth birthday.

Sharon x

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  1. Great blog post looks like a great Novel x

    1. Thank you! Hope you check out the book!

  2. Wow I like to write and I'm currently writing a little novel, I do not follow any of the rules and I have read plenty of books where the author must of failed to read these rules. The more places you sit and write the better as your surroundings can inspire you when I get writers block I often go out and I will see something or someone and instantly start writing in my head. Lets be rebels and break the rules

  3. I can not believe people told you those rules--thankfully you agree with my philosophy that rules are made to be broken!! No, I am not a writer--I am a reader but rules have never been my friend no matter where they are found. This book sounds interesting and I do like that you use the dialect that is appropriate to the area!

    1. MikiHope, with your philosophy, you should really check out my book. My protagonist is a lot like you! (And I love that about her!)

  4. Great advice! I wonder if I'll follow these rules as I write.

  5. Ha, I love her attitude about just doing what she wants to do when she writes! Sounds like a good story!

  6. People don't realize how much writers put into everything they do. Hopefully these tips will reach the right people. Thanks for sharing!


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