First, yes I said listening to, not reading. I have found Audible is a great resource for me. As a writer, one exhortation you often receive is that in order to be an excellent writer, you MUST read often. And not just your favorites, but various authors from a variety of genres. Well, as a fulltime employee, a fulltime husband and father, and at least a part-time volunteer, with a fulltime passion to write and make a difference with my writing, the one thing that is truly a precious commodity is time. As such, I have found that listening to books is a great way to make use of my time driving from place to place.
Now let me say before you do, listening to books does not take the place of reading. You don't get to see the way the author makes use of white space on the page and the many other visual cues that reading allows you to pick up. Also, it goes without saying that if I'm driving while listening to a book, I'm probably not as focused on the details of word choice. And I might even miss a phrase or two when that pickup truck cuts me off at the intersection. Still, I get to enjoy and learn from many more stories than I would otherwise, while still leaving time to write.
I should probably also mention that I typically prefer to listen to my educational non-fiction books more so than novels. In part, this is because I so enjoy reading novels that I prefer to use my Audible time and credits on the less attractive non-fiction reading. However, I do much enjoy listening to novels such as The Hobbit.
This leads me to my second point. Over the past few years, I have spent considerable time learning to "follow the rules" in my writing. This learning has done nothing but strengthen my writing as I have learned from some of the best writers I know about things like deepening the POV (Point of View) of scenes, showing instead of telling, and developing believable characters. However, as I listened to Tolkien's classic, I was reminded that rules change. In fact I even wonder, if Tolkien were to write this incredible tale today, would it even get published due to the many "rules" that are broken. In all fairness, I believe it would for one simple reason.
Assuming he could get someone to read completely through the story without getting caught in the trappings of rule watching, a brilliant story is a brilliant story no matter what style is used to tell it. So while rules in writing are important and will ultimately result in stronger writing, following the rules without a great story is useless. Where as, a great story will transcend the rules.
As I said in the title, STORY RULES RULES!
'Till next time.