More Than One Way (Holly Schindler)

 As we say here in the Ozarks, "There's more'n one way to kill a cat without gettin' hair in your mouth."

It's not exactly the sweetest of metaphors, but it's certainly true of writing books. 

Rules can be stifling. But they can also help guide the way. 

The trick becomes knowing when to follow and when to tell the rules to get lost. 

My advice? 

Start with the rules. Then deviate. 

I'm (ahem) a couple of decades into full-time writing, and at this point, I'd have to tell you plot is everything. 


So start there. With plot. And start with a well-traveled map. 

Get yourself a pre-established plot structure. Anything you think is going to serve you best. Use Save the Cat or Rags to Riches or the classic Three-Act. Right now, I'm really connecting with the W-Shaped Structure. 

And start in. Follow those rules every single step of the way. 

Until you stumble. And you know your book isn't fitting anymore. 

Don't try to squash it into the mold. Here's where you break a way. Just a little bit. Only as much as you have to. 

Because here's the thing: this deviation will most likely lead to others. 

The stories that often resonate with readers are those that mostly confirm to expectations, but offer just the slightest little twist. This plan--following the rules until you just can't anymore--gives you ample opportunity to do just that. 

So go on--find some rules to break!


Holly Schindler is the award-winning author of books for all ages. Her award-winning A Blue So Dark has re-released and is available in hardback for the first time. 


  1. Carrying my rule-breaking hammer in my literary belt most of the time.


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