J.K. Rowling Breaks the Rules

Ahoy mateys! It has been far too long since a post!

Before I get into the topic of my post, I must say how much I’ve missed you all over the past week and a half. It’s been insanity at work and I’ve barely had a minute to breathe. In fact, I was so tired, I couldn’t even read! That’s NEVER happened to me before!

Unfortunately, the insanity won’t end until the end of July, so I’m enjoying a rare day off to update my blog and chat with all you lovelies!

A small update on my querying quest: If you remember from a couple months ago, an agency requested my full manuscript with the caveat that they’d reply in two months as to whether they’d like to represent me. I received my rejection two days ago, but it was very cordial and she said she loved the premise and that my story has a lot of merit. I take this as a very good sign. Publishing is such a subjective world that if the agent isn’t completely in love with the idea, they won’t sign you. And I’m fine with that! I wouldn’t want an agent who didn’t love my work almost as much as I do. So I thanked her and am now on my merry way with further queries and submissions. I’ve only sent 11 queries since the middle of February, and two of those were two sent two days ago. I count it a good sign (from all I’ve read) that I had a manuscript request after only 8 queries. Am I right? Wrong?

Oh well. On to the topic at hand!

Great Rules of Writing

Recently, I started rereading the Harry Potter series. I haven’t picked up a Harry Potter book in years because, silly me, I was so intimidated by her writing.

J.K. Rowling is now the gold standard to which all books in my genre are compared. Or at least, she’s one of the top standards. Most people I talked to told me that I should be inspired and encouraged by her writing, but it made me feel like a failure.

It took FAR too long, but I’m finally over that. And what made me feel even better was, upon beginning the first book, I noticed a few mistakes and inconsistencies (which happens in all writing, by the way). But what REALLY made me feel awesome was that J.K. Rowling breaks almost ALL of the “writing rules.”

I hate rules. Well, okay, that’s not true. I’m a bit of a goodie-two-shoes. But when it comes to writing, I really do hate rules. And I hate it even more when people point out the “rules of writing” and how I’ve broken them.

But Ms. Rowling breaks almost all of them.

She uses adverbs quite frequently.

She uses exclamation points all the time.

She writes sentences all in caps.

She has a few pages with little to no dialogue and a fair amount of exposition.

She uses “very” very often.

She uses “said” as a dialogue marker ALL. THE. TIME. (Usually followed by an adverb).

 

Thank you, J.K. Rowling! All those silly rules are broken over and over and over, and I couldn’t be happier about it. And the best part about it is, it all works!

Another thing I noticed about her writing, besides how creative her mind is, is that it’s fairly straight forward. Maybe in the later books it got a touch flowery, but she pretty much spells it out like it is. That’s important when writing for kids, but I’ve read articles where she’s been criticized for the simplicity of her writing. But why do they think so many people love it? It’s relatable and available for everyone to read, even if their reading abilities are not so advanced.

Now, this may be different in the adult books she’s written (which I have not yet read), so this is just a digression on Harry Potter.

But I love that her writing isn’t something unattainable or confusing. It wouldn’t have worked for her audience, anyways.

The real genius of her, besides breaking all the rules, is the sheer immensity of the world she created and the fecundity of her imagination. I had to stop a few times and just sit in awe at some of the things she thought up.

For instance: When Harry gets his wand, they talk about how each wand has a unicorn hair, dragon heartstring, phoenix feather, etc inside it. Well, of course! That makes complete sense to us Muggles. In the past, magic wands were just bits of wood with magic inside. Now, how did they attain their magical properties, is what I want to know. But she gives a reasonable explanation: something inside them came from a magical being. It makes so much sense!

Simple stuff like that.

She amazes me, and now, instead of being completely intimidated, I’m only in awe of her talent and inspired to continue working towards making my books the best they can be.

Thank you, Ms. Rowling!

 

 

“The wizards represent all that the true ‘muggle’ most fears: They are plainly outcasts and comfortable with being so. Nothing is more unnerving to the truly conventional than the unashamed misfit!”
― J.K. Rowling

“My readers have to work with me to create the experience. They have to bring their imaginations to the story. No one sees a book in the same way, no one sees the characters the same way. As a reader you imagine them in your own mind. So, together, as author and reader, we have both created the story.”
― J.K. Rowling

“It is impossible to live without failing at something. Unless you’ve lived so cautiously that you might as well not lived at all. In which case, you fail by default.”
― J.K. Rowling

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19 thoughts on “J.K. Rowling Breaks the Rules

  1. I like this! I think if the rules are broken in the right way then they work! We’re not writing academic papers, and it’s called “creative writing,” so I don’t think there should be so many boundaries that we have to worry about while getting our story out.

  2. Wonderful post! In writing, rules are there to be learned and then broken with purpose. And I also love her straightforward style. She lays out all the fantastical, unbelievable facts of her world with such plainness and confidence that you can’t help but believe it’s real.

  3. I was wondering where you had went. Glad you are okay and I am sorry about the rejections. I am going to try and send out queries as soon as I am finished a book that I am writing now. It’s a thriller/suspense. It should have been done a year ago, but I finished so many other projects in the meantime. I even signed up for Nano. So, we shall see! Keep up the good work, sis!

  4. Thanks for sharing that first quote, about misfits! And that’s great about the “rules” she broke. Now, maybe I’ll read her, someday … when I’m done with breaking the rules in the WIP….

  5. Ever since I started reading about all the “rules” all I’ve read is authors who consistently break them. I’m glad to know I’m not the only other writer who finds books like this. 🙂

  6. Thank you for pointing out all of those rule-breaks! I adore J.K. Rowling, and it is nice to know that she reached her fame whilst breaking rules that “better” writers would not dare to commit the crime of ignoring. What an encouragement!

    • I know! It keeps writing real, you know? She’s not striving for high literature, which can often come across as snooty. She wrote great books and made them accessible to everyone because she was just being herself. Thanks for commenting!

      • I agree, especially with making writing real. I think that is why her characters seems like such real people! They are so relatable because it is how we talk in real life. Less flowery, more blunt. Welcome for the comment 🙂 Thanks for the post!

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