I recently moved back to my hometown just in time for one of the best fireworks shows west of the Mississippi—so they say. As I lay on my blanket, I scanned the crowd and a reoccurring theme rolled through my mind: just because a person can do something, doesn’t mean they should.
Here’s my list of observations from the Fourth:
Just because a girl has boobs doesn’t mean everyone wants to see them, especially if the girl is 14/16ish. What’s up with all the young girls and the boob shirts?
Just because a seven year old can use a sparkler, doesn’t mean a two year old should. Do I really need to explain this? Two year olds are dangerous with popsicles. Markers. Chocolate. Why oh why would an exploding stick be a good plaything?
Just because you have an extra beer doesn’t mean you should give it to your drunken uncle. Just saying.
Just because a person can use the “f” word in the most creative of ways, doesn’t mean he should. I think it’s great that someone is learning to diversify their language by taking a swear word and turning it into an adjective, a noun, an adverb, a verb, a pronoun, a modifier, a whatever else they can. I’m happy you can do so, but not everyone thinks you’re clever.
Just because a person can wear smaller clothes, doesn’t mean she should. I am not trying to dis on larger people, especially since I am not the most svelte girl at the party. What I’m trying to suggest is wearing clothes that don’t cause pain for the wearer because it is too tight or clothes that make wobbly bits look even more wobbly. Looking like a tied up pot roast isn’t as attractive as eating the pot roast. With potatoes. Mmm. And gravy.
Okay, enough of this. You get the point. So how does this relate to writing?
One of the great things about being an artist is your creation is your own. You can do whatever you want as long as you have someone who appreciates it. We are all starving for approval aren’t we? That’s one of the reasons for this blog. We want validation for our hard work. But just because we have the freedom to write whatever we want doesn’t necessarily mean we should.
*I am not going to go into a lot of detail because most of these can be blog posts of their own. This is just a quick look at a few things to think about. Please add your own in the comments section.
Prologue: Just because prologues and epilogues exist doesn’t mean we have to use them. I dislike them, and I really dislike them when they are used as a ploy or a “dot, dot, dot” moment to create drama, like an artificial hook. Start with the story. If the story doesn’t make sense without one, then maybe throw one in.
Dialect: Just because your character is Irish or British don’t overwhelm us with perfect dialect. It becomes cumbersome and pulls me out of the story. I like a bit of dialect, especially if I find a good line or two I can say out loud, but too much is too much. Add a bit of stuff here and there, the reader will get it.
Swearing: I read The Art Of Racing In The Rain by Garth Stein not too long ago. It was a book from the dog’s p.o.v. I loved most of it, but the one thing that really bugged me was the few times the author popped in the f-bomb. There wasn't many times. Maybe a handful, but each time it felt weird or out of place. When a writer goes nearly most of the book without using the word and then all of a sudden pops one in, it changes something for me. It sticks out. If it makes sense then I’m good, but when it is unnecessary, I find myself questioning the author in other areas.
Sex scenes: Just because you’re writing a love story or romance doesn’t mean you have to write a sex scene. If you are uncomfortable writing love/sex scenes, don’t do it. It will come off awkward. I know; I suck at them. I leave that stuff to my Rabbit In The Hat Hook’er. She writes some spicy stuff, but she is comfortable and it comes off that way. That shouldn’t dissuade you from writing romance though if you love it. Some of the best scenes are the ones where I was left at the door. Left to my own imagination.
I just picked the first four that popped in my head. If you could write a Just-Because-You-Can list for writing what would you include?