Today I want to talk about rules. Writing rules of course. There are so many, and they can be a bit overwhelming when you're learning the ropes. But without rules there is chaos and anarchy. Okay maybe it's not that bad, but your manuscript COULD end up riddled with adverbial dialogue tags.
There are reasons behind the rules. And yet many say you can ignore the rules, it's okay. Myself included!! Confused yet? Let me try to clarify.
WE NEED TO LEARN AND UNDERSTAND THE RULES BEFORE WE CAN SUCCESSFULLY BREAK THEM.
If you don't understand that you're breaking accepted norms you run the risk of:
- Putting off agents and editors who may take it as a sign that you haven't bothered to do your homework and really learn about this business. They will then pass on your book in favor of one of the many from authors that do follow the rules.
- Never growing at your craft! If you don't bother to understand WHY we don't use so many adverbs (it's the lazy man's way of telling not showing and doesn't typically - see I break rules too - add to the book), you won't get that extra oomph of using them at the RIGHT times. And you'll have a weaker manuscript.
- Missing out. You MIGHT actually learn something useful if you try things a new way. A light bulb may just go on and a new idea or approach may surprise you.
- Not being a whole writer. What does that mean? Well, writing is an art, but it's also a business. If you don't acknowledge that there are rules, then you are not acknowledging that you are taking this endeavor seriously, and that you are willing to put in the extreme effort it takes to succeed.
So learn all the rules. Then as long as you have a darn good reason, you have my blessing to break them!