July Contest – Books That Break Rules


Northwest Christian Writers’ Association (NCWA) is running a contest in the month of July that is open to everyone, not just NCWA members. Prizes will be awarded at the end of the month to the best entries and randomly chosen entries. Enter to win exciting prizes such as books, coffee (to keep you up on late nights), and other items to be announced. Enter as many times as you want. Be sure to tell your writing friends about our contest.

Freedom in Writing:

Do you enjoy reading books for fun or do you find yourself analyzing the writing merits of the books? Writers are often advised to read books in their genre and also read books on writing. As a new writer I am inspired that most books I read tend to break “writing rules.” It allows me the freedom to learn about writing and decide what guidelines to use or not use in my writing.

Critique groups are great though as a writer you should discern what feedback is helpful for you. For authors such as the Brontes, Jane Austen, and Charles Dickens––were they in a legitimate critique group? Or did they just have family and/or friends look over their writing?

In honor of Independence Day, allow yourself the liberty to write this summer without the restrictions of writing rules. They can be reviewed later in the editing phase.

To Enter Contest:

  1. Leave a comment to this post with your name and email address. Your email address will not be displayed and will only be used to contact winners.
  2. In your comment, name a writing rule, a book that breaks it, and why you think it works.

The following two examples were provided by Dennis Brooke, NCWA Vice President and Webmaster.

Example 1:

The Rule: Novels should be between 75,000 and 125,000 words (STEIN ON WRITING by Sol Stein)

Book That Breaks It: THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH by Ken Follett

Why It Works: He had a following that allowed him to go to his publisher with a longer than normal book. The book was well-written and fascinating. His publisher resisted the book at first because it was so long and different from his typical spy novels.

Example 2:

The Rule: Self-published books do not become bestsellers.

Book That Breaks It: THE SHACK by William P. Young

Why It Works: Love it or hate it, it was an interesting take on how God relates to us. The author shopped it to many different publishers before giving up and self-publishing.

Good luck in the contest and have fun reading and writing this summer!

Krichelle Groth is an NCWA Co-Blogger and Member since 2009. She is a wife, mom, and author following her passion to write for Christ. She is currently writing a teen fantasy fiction novel. Visit her website at www.krichellegroth.com.


6 thoughts on “July Contest – Books That Break Rules

  1. The Rule: Novels composed only of letters between the characters will not succeed.

    BOOK THAT BREAKS IT: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

    Why it works: Written in elegant prose and featuring endearing, eccentric characters the story draws the reader into a community living through a little-known historical event.


  2. The Rule: Novels should never address the reader because it will break the fictional “dream.”

    BOOK THAT BREAKS IT: The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo

    Why it works: This charming middle-grade novel about a light-loving mouse gets into pretty scary territory when he has to descend into the castle dungeon. “Dear Reader” comments help frightened children feel like everything will turn out okay in the end.


  3. The Rule: Be careful about how much backstory you write because you may lose the reader’s interest.

    BOOK THAT BREAKS IT: Deceit by Brandilyn Collins (releasing this month)

    Why it works: Brandilyn does a phenominal job of ping-ponging the back story between chapters. Not only does it tell just enough to keep your interest but it also makes you keep reading to hit the chapter where the back story continues. It is difficult to do but Brandilyn did it well in this book.


  4. The Rule: In books related to apologetics or evangelism, you should focus on the basic ‘proofs’ of the faith; “study the genuine currency, not the counterfeit, to tell the difference.”

    Book that breaks it: I Sold My Soul on eBay, by Hemant Mehta

    Why it works: The self-described “friendly atheist” visits churches and offers his observations and interesting criticisms of American Christianity. As a reader you’re challenged to consider his arguments and evaluate your own beliefs and practices in light of his atheism.


  5. Rule: don’t use adverbs, especially ‘ly’ types.

    Book that breaks it: Don’t Point that Thing at Me by Kyril Bonfiglioni.

    Why it works: The story is in first person, and the protagonist absolutely would use ten times more adverbs than your average person. Bonfiglioni seems aware of the RULE, yet uses adverbs anyway, lavishly, outrageously, creatively and even self-consciously to magnificent comic effect. I find myself laughing out loud and wanting to copy out his delicious phrases.
    Disclaimer: not suitable for family reading.


  6. Pingback: Reviewing “Books That Break the Rules” « Northwest Christian Writers Association

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