Follow Your Heart…When it Comes to Writing

Should I have a prologue or epilogue?
Is this chapter too long?
Should I include accents in my dialogue?
What about foreign language—should I use it or re-cap in English?
Should I write it in first, third, or a combination of viewpoints?
Does that first sentence really grab the reader or should I change it?

As a writer, all or some of these questions may have hit you at one point or another.  And I’m sure there’s a lot I’m missing.  After all, we work hard on our manuscripts and we want them as perfect as possible. 

You may have found yourself reaching out to a trusted friend in person or through an online community to try and find the answers you seek.  I’m here to tell you, with most of the above, the answer lies in you.

It’s your story, and only you know the best way to tell it.

Of course, there’s no harm in seeking opinions, but at the end of all of it, the decision lies with you.  My advice?  Follow your heart.

If your heart is saying “break the rules”, blend first and third point of view, do it.  It’s what’s best for the story.

When you start writing, you’re so inundated with “rules” that it can literally have you spinning in a circle.  It could have the writing flow stop if you let them get to you too much.  That’s why, for the most part, they are guidelines

Writing is a craft, a creative outlet.  That right there tells you there’s room to “be”.

I’ve been asked this question before: would a ‘bad guy’ do this?  My answer, if you thought it up, it’s possible.

So don’t let “rules” bring you down.  Don’t weigh other people’s opinions so heavily that you compromise your story.  Remember the advice you’re seeking is from a limited audience and not everyone will feel the same way.


  1. Excellent advice. I had to ditch a critique group because they did not "get" my work and insisted I should cut out large swaths of the MS. Um. No.

    1. I've heard a lot of negative things about critique groups so I've stayed away from them. I'm proud of you for standing up for yourself and your work.

  2. Wonderful advice. I agree completely. You should write what you feel works best for your story.

  3. Excellent advice and I totally agree, Carolyn, thank you for sharing it with us. I have a trusted 'reader' that I've known online for years who is honest and fair with her comments and critiques, and voraciously reads the same genre of the book I'm writing. I may not include all of her suggestions, but I take them seriously, and she makes me think beyond my own viewpoint. She is invaluable to me and helps keep me on track with my book as I'm writing it.

    When I'm finished the first draft and edit, I'll send it to a couple of other beta readers for additional critique - and hope to find people as honest and fair as my current 'reader'!

    1. I definitely see the advantage of getting opinions and feedback from trusted author friends. They can have excellent advice and provide a fresh viewpoint; it's just we wouldn't want to allow ourselves to be swayed to the point it may affect the story.

  4. I needed to hear this. It warms my writer-heart. Thank you, Carolyn!

  5. I agree completely, Carolyn. Yes, we all need trusted input from others, but there are times when we know in our heart (the one you say we should trust :-) that the advice is wrong that we most need to follow that inner nudge. Even if it proves to be a mistake at least it won't be because we followed advice we never even believed in. I've been following you on Twitter awhile and am going to start following your blog, too. Excellent advice.

    1. Thank you for your comment. It's always great to get a new follower.

  6. Thanks for sharing, Carolyn. Usually what we hear is the complete opposite. It's great to hear from someone who has been doing this for a while offer a helping bit of encouragement to simply tell our stories the way we see fit. :)


    1. Thank you, James. I believe we're always in the need of encouragement.


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