Friday, October 1, 2010

I Didn't Know You Could Do That!

Not too long ago, I committed myself to solving the Rubik's Cube and also to becoming a writer.

Just about the time I had finally written a story I was proud of, I was able to solve the cube in under one minute.  I meticulously followed processes and conventions only to find out that somebody had done something inexplicable.

"What do you mean he can solve the Rubik's Cube blindfolded?"  Stefan Pochmann invented the first technique to do just that.  His method was to memorize the initial scrambled state of the cube and then move each piece into the correct position one at a time.

I have had similar, perplexed reactions to something a published author has done.  "What?  I didn't know you could do that!"  Writers of fiction will tell you there are rules that must be followed.  You don't want anything to "take the reader out of the story."  One of the Golden Rules states that the author shall remain invisible.  And yet, I can think of three examples of this broken rule:

  1. In his most famous novel, "Money", Martin Amis writes himself into the story.
  2. Kurt Vonnegut also did this in "Breakfast of Champions", but in a much more intrusive manner.  The narrator/author is the godlike writer who confronts his poor character and tells him it is because of him that he has suffered so much.
  3. Though I never finished the Dark Tower series, Stephen King also wrote himself into his story.
Many writers will tell you they have had rules drilled into their heads, and you must obey!  But as I've learned with writing, rules are really just conventions and guidelines.  It's possible to break the rules for some very dramatic, fun, and even amazing results.

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