IWSG POST I: No More Naughty Toes, Rules of All Kinds Can Be Frustrating

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support to each other on the first Wednesday of every month.  If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]


Every Monday evening, I sit in a black metal chair and watch my daughter dance across a hard wood floor in her tutu, sometimes tights, and always ballet slippers. She’s five. She loves to spin and glance at herself in the mirror like any other five-year-old. And this past week as she sat on the floor stretching her arms towards her pointed toes the entire class broke out and chanted together a really great line, “No More Naughty Toes!”

The kiddos were referencing the difference in pointed verse flexed feet in class and what natural rules dancers follow in order to succeed. While I watched my daughter giggle, smile, and enjoy the time she spent with her friends in class, I couldn’t help but compare the rules and techniques she seems to be learning in dance to my own passion in writing.

Rules can be stressful. Sometimes I wish I had the eyes and heart of a five-year-old as I tackle basic rules in writing to polish off my own manuscript. Sometimes it seems small children have no fear. Maybe it’s what we learn along the way because I know in my own 39 years of life, I have a list of them.

My biggest weakness, or Naughty Toes I should say, is conquering plot development. Years ago, when I started working on my first lengthy novel,  I had no idea of the art involved in the natural progression of events, what to hold back from the audience, and what they absolutely need to see in order to get the bigger picture we author’s sometimes keep to ourselves in our heads. Plus, my character scenes sometimes derail my plot. I’m comfortable with scenes and characters, but sometimes I get lost in dialogue and action, and then I get to the end of the chapter and I scratch my head and think, well, that’s not what I’d outlined at all. 🙂

balletI hope I’m becoming more flexible in my studies, just like my daughter in dance class. I’ve been working pretty diligently on the craft of plot with a multitude of resources, workbooks and my writing BFF Becky. We’ve made a pact this year. We’ve decided to team tag the topic of plot development. No matter what, we promise to work as a team, keep the steam rolling and brainstorm at the end of scenes all over again if necessary.

Sometimes the fear hangs on and a flashlight isn’t enough to chase away the shadows clinging to the doors in my mind. Will this really be the draft I’m hoping for, the one with a sound plot weaving my characters and scenes so tightly together, it wows the audience right out of their seats?

I’m not sure. I know I’m not the type to give up. I also believe the best way to conquer our weaknesses is through our friends who also share in our same struggles. We’re better together. I’ve seen it in my daughter’s dance class. I’ve felt it ever since I met my writing friend Becky.

My Question: So what about you? Any rules your struggling with in your work, or have found yourself struggling with in the past?

Thank you for stopping in today.



About Erika Beebe

Author, dreamer, and a momma to a couple of wonderful kids, I try to live life everyday in hope and inspire others along my way.

Posted on October 7, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. I must admit that I don’t like following rules in anything, but I do. It’s just that I have to talk myself into it.

  2. I’m a rebel when it comes to rules, most of the time. When it comes to writing, I have a bucketload of reference materials to help keep me on my ‘toes’. 🙂 I’ve been told that I would have an easier time of it if I planned ahead or outlined my stories. Tried, but didn’t work for me. That’s when I found out I was more of a pantster.

    Like you, one of my writing weaknesses is plot development. The story sounds fantastic in my head, but it falls short most times when I’m trying to get it on paper. Glad to have you as part of the IWSG! Have a great day. Eva, IWSG Co-host

  3. I struggle with plot in my longer works, and it’s definitely something I’m working on. A pantser at heart, I need to lean into plotting/planning – maybe even outlining, gasp! – a bit more. 🙂

  4. SO many rules. The first time I worked with a literary agent in 2005, I realized how far behind I was. Since then it’s been a constant effort to learn something new and apply it in the very first draft. My last effort was a focus on character arcs. Next it will probably be theme infused into ever chapter on a first draft. BUT, I’m not quite there yet. We’re all growing where it is we’re at.

  5. Plotting is an art form, and now that I’m writing more, I’m noticing the good and bad examples when I read. Some authors love to give the play by play for everything. I don’t need to know all the steps into making a cup of tea. I do it every day.

    Good luck to you and I hope your daughter never stops dancing.

  6. I’ve found the best way to deal with the rules is to learn the reasons behind the rules… then I follow them, or ignore them. No rule is absolute. Writing is, after all, a creative outlet.

  7. mlouisebarbourfundyblue

    I had to laugh when I read that your characters sometimes derail your plot! I’ve had that happen to me! It happened to Tolkien too, so we’re in good company! And sometimes those characters can be unexpectedly brilliant in their derailing. I like how you’re tackling improving your plotting. And I loved how you used your daughter’s “Naughty Toes” lesson to make some important points. Good luck and happy writing!

    • Thank you so much for the smile. It feels better knowing there are other writers with similar concerns. I really appreciate you stopping in and sharing your own struggle and also Tolkien’s. I had no idea. Thank you 🙂

  8. Welcome to the group. It is so wonderful that you and your friend are tackling your writing difficulties together. Having a friend to brainstorm with is always great. I struggle with descriptive writing and using strong verbs. But I’m working really hard to improve. Best of luck.

  9. That’s great you have someone to help you with plot. I bounce ideas off my critique partners all the time.
    I’m a bare bones writer, so my biggest struggle has been to add description in a way that is show not tell.
    And welcome to the IWSG!

  10. Naughty toes, I like that. I’m working on plot and character emotions right now. I need to be more expressive of what the character is feeling. That’s my big naughty toes.

  11. Maybe we just learn the rules so we can break them! That’s what writing is all about…freedom of expression. If we bog ourselves down too much, we stifle that and the reader loses interest.


    • Thank you Stephanie. I appreciate your advice. I agree. There are certain choices we have to make regarding rules and whether or not they are the right ones for us and our stories. I appreciate you stopping in 🙂

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