A platypus is intriguing. If you watch Phineas and Ferb, you know I speak the truth. A platypus is a mammal… who spends its life in water and on land, lays eggs (that are leathery, much like a reptile’s eggs) and has a bill, much like a duck. Oh yeah… and it has a tail similar to a beaver.
Yes. It is a mammal – but it doesn’t follow some of the mammal rules. Ya know, mammals are supposed to have live young. But the platypus? Not so much. And guess what? Even though it secretes milk, it doesn’t have teets. Nope, it secretes it through it’s skin and the babies lap it up. It gets the job done, but in a way that is NOT usual for a mammal.
I think the platypus is one of those surprises God threw into the animal kingdom to keep us on our toes. Ya know, so we don’t think we know all the answers.
Now how in the world does this relate to writing a really good book?
As writers, we have to write books that make the reader feel like they’ve walked away with an unexpected “bonus”. The writer needs to read it… get to the end… and feel like, “WHoa, I didn’t see that coming.” (But in a good way!)
A mammal is supposed to follow certain “rules”. But the platypus breaks several of them. As writers, we need to know the rules, but also be willing to break them if that is what it takes for our story. Our stories need to make the reader react like this:
Or like this:
But you do NOT want them to react like this:
Sooooo…. What are some “rules” in writing that we can break to make our stories stand out? What rules have you broken? How has breaking the rules helped make your book stronger? More appealing? What can you do to make your book into the “platypus” of the literary world?
(And on the other hand, what rules do you think you should NOT break?)