Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Against the rules- The Rick Riordan edition

Y'all know about me and 'rules'. If you don't know feel free to check out the Terry Pratchett edition here.

I think we all agreed back then that the rules exist for a reason.


If you're good and you have good reasons, those rules can be broken.

Since I like breaking rules so much, I've made it a mission of mine to bring you examples of rules well-broken every time I see them.

Today we'll be using THE SEA OF MONSTERS, book 2 of the Percy Jackson series as our example. We've already examined today's rule in the Terry Pratchett edition, but it can't hurt to see another example.
Especially since there's a million places telling you how to follow the rules and only a handful telling you how to break them.

RULE: Don't start a book with a dream.

REASON: Readers feel betrayed. They're just starting to know a character and his situation.


My nightmare started like this.


That is actually the first line of the book. There are several reasons why it works for Riordan.

Firstly, this is part two of a series. Dreams have already been shown to be visions of what is happening somewhere else at the same time or visions of things to come.

Secondly, the major issue with dreams, is that the audience thinks they're real, and feels betrayed when they aren't. Riordan states it up front. This is a dream.

Thirdly, dreams are a major part of this novel. Percy keeps getting glimpses of things which he can't hope to understand until he finds himself closer to - or even in- the exact situation the dream describes. Trying to fit the pieces together gives the story an extra element of suspense as well. Starting out with a dream actually helps set the tone for the rest of the novel.

Considering both this and Pratchett, I'd say dreams as visions, can work well.

PS- Remember how I'm supposed to be going to a conference in August? (I say "supposed to" because it seems I've eaten my passport!) Well you can too! Check out the free online Write On Con.


Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Wonderful example of when rule-breaking works and why. Way to go, Claire.

Amparo Ortiz said...

I never actually thought of Riordan's rebelliousness. But you're right--it works brilliantly. Don't you just wish every debut/aspiring author knew this???

Great post!

ElbieNy25 said...

I think you need to do a blog about the rules you actually DO follow, lol. But yet another great example, thanks.

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Alleged Author said...

I agree with stating the protag is dreaming before jumping into the dream!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

hey clare you won on my blog - i need your address :)

Claire Dawn said...

Thanks guys!

Elbie, I don't post about following the rules, because I'm not the expert. I leave that stuff to Stephen King and Elmore Leonard. It's just that I hear people go on and on about the rules so often, you'd think they were universal laws or something.

So I just want to show people - new writers especially- that if you need to break a rule, it is doable.