Break the Rules: Write A Novel From Your Right Brain

Pablo Picasso learned the rules of art and then deliberately broke them. Playwright Samuel Beckett became famous for “Waiting For Godot,” which broke most of the rules of playwriting: there was no character development, no conflict, no climax, no denouement; in fact, this work has often been described as a play where nothing happens–akin to the Seinfeld TV series, which was also a break from traditional sit coms. So what about the novel? Has anyone of note broken new ground? An argument could certainly be made for James Joyce’s stream of consciousness fiction นิยายอีโรติก.

Still, in terms of creative exploration, so much more could be done to revolutionize the genre. The time for a paradigm buster to step forward and start the busting is long overdue. That person could be me–or it could be you. Or it could be all of us together. While the fiction police (writing teachers, editors, publishers) are ruthlessly weeding out all those who do not conform to the ancient rules of character development and a plot line with rising action, conflict, climax and then falling action, you and I could be writing novels that may have none of these characteristics yet have the one vital thing that eludes so many. For lack of a better word, let’s call that thing inspiration.

What inspires you? While you are thinking of your answer, I’ll tell you what happened to me. I got frustrated when the rule keepers continually pointed out that my stories had no conflict. To be honest, conflict does not inspire me; it bores me. Every time I see a car chase, a gun fight or their emotional equivalent in a book or at the movies, my mind wanders to something else. At first I thought something was really wrong with me, but now I believe I may have been ahead of my time. (Yeah! Yeah! Could also be that author ego thing!)

You’ve heard the saying that people create their own reality? I think it’s true, not in the woo-woo sense, although that would be OK, too, since believing in magic has infinite creative potential, but mostly because people tend to unconsciously do things to make their beliefs come true. That’s really scary when you think about it in terms of the fiction we are writing these days. For example, every time a movie featuring a gun fight is made, we may be unconsciously increasing gun fighting in our real world.

OK, maybe you have a hard time believing that, so let me talk about something that actually does inspire me instead of what bores and/or concerns me, and that is children’s literature. Have you ever noticed the difference in fiction for adults vs. fiction for children? Literature written for adults is insistent on realism. Explainable things have to happen to make a character grow. There are no magical interventions. No moral answers to life’s problems. The opposite is true in children’s books. Aesop’s fables always show right being vindicated and wrong punished, and they end tightly with a clearly stated moral. The characters are often stock, and although evil people and monsters wander freely, and scary things happen all the time in fairy tales, when all is said and done, “magic” saves the day, good prevails over evil and people live happily ever after.

I feel inspired to write that kind of fiction–and not just for children, because as you have probably heard, a good children’s book isn’t just for children. (Consider the millions of adults who are Harry Potter fans, for example.)

Anyway, what I have noticed is that when I feel inspired about something, it frequently it starts to happen. First the excitement builds in my body. Adrenaline kicks in and my fingers itch to type. My brain becomes a blank and the words begin their download. That’s called writing from the right or intuitive brain, and it’s really amazing. Characters show up and start talking. Stuff happens. Sometimes it may be chapters later before I realize why a certain event had to happen in chapter three or why a character had a particular disability. No story board or character outline is necessary, just writing it as it comes in. Also, not knowing is more than half the fun; it’s like reading a book while you are writing it.

When you write from your right brain, you still have to do some editing, of course. There are bound to be typos, grammatical mistakes, sentence structure issues, but what I have found that what I don’t have to do is change the course of the story or modify anything about the characters themselves.

This is a novel way to write a novel! It could change your world. It could also change my world and everyone else’s as well. Please try this method very soon because the old ways are outdated and authoritarian. At least they seem that way to me. You, of course, are entitled to your own inspired thoughts on the matter.

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