Monday, April 21, 2014

No Rules Just Write - With Special Guest Terri Osburn

The Rockville 8 are pleased as punch to host the fabulously wonderful Terri Osburn with her straight up take on what matters on this writing journey of ours. Sing it, sister!
No Rules Just Write

I have a writer friend who is involved with a class for newbie writers, and every time she talks about the group, I remember when I was a newbie. I remember how excited I was, full of the desire to learn but overwhelmed by how much I didn’t know. And I remember taking every snippet of advice as gospel, sometimes to my own detriment.

We all hear about the rules for writing. First off, there are no rules for writing. Well, other than don’t bore your reader, but otherwise, anything goes. And yet, rules are still bandied about.

So here are my rules for writing, which I like to call the anti-rules. And surprise, there’s only one rule.

Don’t get hung up on the stuff that doesn’t matter.

It really is that simple. Writing is storytelling. It isn’t prose and plot and dialogue tags and marketing plans. It’s storytelling. That means all you have to do is tell the story that you see in your mind. The one that keeps you up at night, makes you smile and gets your heart racing.

That is where you start, and that is all that matters. If you want to get published, some of these other things will come into play. But not until later. Much later. You’re on page 42. You have awesome characters living in your head and they have a story to tell. Your job is to put the story on the page. That’s it. That’s all you have to do.

But, you say, they keep telling me…blah blah blah. First off, who is this they? Point them out and I will kick them in the keyboard. Who are they to say anything? To tell you or me or anyone what to do?

Did you know some writers don’t create a new paragraph every time the speaking character changes? That’s right, my friends. There are rebels out there who will start a paragraph with character A’s line of dialogue, and then put character B’s line IN THE SAME PARAGRAPH. And you know what, they got published doing that.

Seriously. I’ve seen it.

Did you know there are books where the writer CHOSE not to use capitalization in all the traditional ways? And again, that book got published. Yes, I’ve seen it with my own reader eyes.

The point is, all that matters is the story. Granted, you have to tell a damn good story, but how you do that is up to you. It’s not up to the editors or readers or some stinking rules.

It’s your story. Tell it your way. If it’s a sci-fi, first person, inspirational memoir, so be it. Put your butt in the chair, your fingers on the keyboard, and your heart onto the page. That’s it.

You got this, my friend. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

Agree or disagree? Feel free to let me have it. I can take it. J

One lucky commenter will receive an e-book of their choice from Terri's Anchor Island series! See below for links and a blurb of her upcoming release, HOME TO STAY:

HOME TO STAY by Terri Osburn
Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 1477818367

May 1, 2014


Willow Parsons’s two new best friends are getting married, putting her squarely on the sidelines of romance—which suits her just fine. After escaping the ultimate Mr. Wrong, she is more than happy to spend her days slinging drinks in Dempsey’s Bar & Grill, and her nights alone. But her Anchor Island refuge has just one catch: muscle-bound charmer Randy Navarro.

Everyone in town knows that Randy, owner of the local fitness club, is a giant teddy bear. Everyone, it seems, except for Willow. He’s convinced that her avoidance is more than just playing hard to get, and is determined to uncover the secrets that keep her on edge. But when old fears are dragged into the light, can Randy get Willow to stay and fight for their love…or will she take flight, leaving both him and Anchor Island behind?

Home to Stay is a charming, romantic tale about following your heart to find where you belong.

Buy Links:

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Although born in the Ohio Valley, Terri Osburn found her true home between the covers of her favorite books. Classics like The Wizard of Oz and Little Women filled her childhood, and the genre of romance beckoned during her teen years. While Osburn went on to gain a degree in business administration, she couldn’t shelve her love of love stories. In 2007, she decided to put pen to paper and write her own. Just five years later, she was named a 2012 finalist for the Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® Award. The author of the Anchor Island contemporary romance series, Osburn resides in Virginia with her daughter, an assortment of pets, and her bookshelves full of keepers. To learn more about this author and her work, visit her website at






  1. Welcome, Terri!

    I was just telling someone "a rule" last week. O.o. The thing is, *I* understood what I was trying to say - but in my explanation, did they hear it as a "must never break this" rule? Because I actually break it all the time...when I need to.

    I agree - it's hard enough getting the story on the page without worrying up front about "the rules." Write a good story. Boom. Done.

  2. Thank you so much for having me! And I get worked up about this because I can't tell you how much "the rules" stopped me from writing as a newbie. They were like a giant road block in my brain. So I feel for any writer who gets distracted by the have tos and never dos and struggles to write what is bound to be a fantabulous story.

  3. Terri, thank you for blogging with the R8. It's a relief to many of us to hear there are no hard and fast rules. I think that rules work if they are your own rules - in other words, what works for one writer doesn't necessarily work for another one. I've been to so many workshops. Some click with me, some I understand but know won't work for me and a few I think "What in the world are they talking about?"

  4. Terri, thank you for blogging with the R8. It's a relief to many of us to hear there are no hard and fast rules. I think that rules work if they are your own rules - in other words, what works for one writer doesn't necessarily work for another one. I've been to so many workshops. Some click with me, some I understand but know won't work for me and a few I think "What in the world are they talking about?"

  5. *LOL* "I've seen it with my own reader eyes! I swear!" *LOL*

    But I can't argue...well, I can...but yes, I too have seen such things with my own reader eyes.

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  7. Terri ~ Thanks so much for visiting us this week. What great words of encouragement for those who struggle against the rules and allow the "don'ts" to keep them from getting that story onto the page.

    You are right, though, it needs to be a pretty darned compelling story if you're going to choose to not use punctuation, capitalization, yada, yada that readers today have come to expect.

    However, that being said, I've read quite a few indie published books of late where I've kept reading despite the author flying in the face of commonly held "rules." But I have to say that there was something immensely compelling about each of those stories--usually a character or story question--that I needed to follow no matter what.

    There's a lot to be said for good storytelling and you can't tell a good story if you're too afraid of not knowing the rules to get the words onto the page. So, as you said, butt in chair and write! ;0)

    Thanks again for guest blogging this week.

  8. Fabulous -- good rules and a healthy amount of grey area between them make for wonderful books. As a reader, I know that some things I love aren't done according to "rules," and other things adhere perfectly to them. If the tone comes through and the characters are engaging and I can feel the writer's passion for the story, it seems to click -- rules or none!

  9. Lisa, I'm so with you. My goal is to help others so they don't experience what I did. Though I suppose we all go through the stages. Blissful ignorance. Roadblocked by rules. Writing anarchist. :)

  10. Hellie, I know how you love to argue. Thank you for withholding this time. LOL!

  11. Mackenzie, the ones I've seen have been from big names and big NY houses. And I don't want to imply that bad grammar or inconsistent tense are totally okay. The rules of basic language and grammar are there for a reason.

    But as a newbie, I was once told not to have the word was appear on a page more than once. That'll send your muse running quick.

  12. Joey, you said the magic words. Character are engaging.

    That is priority number one!

  13. Thanks so much, Terri, for being our guest on the Rockville 8 this week. Your message is a wise one and a good reminder not to get in your own way!

    Winner of the free book is Ms. Joey Rick. I'll contact you offline for your choice of Terri's Anchor Island series!