Monday, October 16, 2006

To Heck with the Rules

I have a new litany. THERE ARE NO RULES! In writing that is. I'm amazed that we've come to a point where some writers say or imply that there are a set of rules writers must follow. As if their way is the only way. The only rule is to write a good book.

You probably have heard them as well. They include: The hero/heroine meeting in a certain amount of time. Only one point of view (POV) per scene. No prologue or epilogue. No sports heros. Never use was. And some contest judges feel compelled to use these rules when judging contests.

All books are not round pegs, but some seem to want to force all into a round hole. Editors want good books. Period!

Now, I'm not advocating not thinking about your manuscript. Certain things may keep the editor from getting to your wonderful prose. Things like a lot of typos or a hard to read manuscript. Or a failure to interest her/him at the outset of your manuscript.

So, what "rules" do you trample underfoot in your writing?


Christy said...

The rules! Who made them up? Whenever I see the comment, "You can't do that," on a contest score sheet, I always want to ask, "Who says?"

The last few weeks I've been in a slump, so I've reread a lot of my old favorities. Evidently they were written before the rules were created because they break everyone of them...and I love them. That's why they're on my keeper shelf. Those wonderful authors didn't worry about what rules they were breaking. Their aim was to write a good book and they did.

If these books were sent out in contests now, I firmly believe they'd get low scores and it's because the 'rules' were broken. POV is mixed, even small secondary characters have a POV. Lots of narrative, prologues, epilogues, backstory and yes, lots of telling instead of showing.

I don't necessarily disagree with the 'rules' but I don't think there should be only one way to tell a story. Tell the story the way you see it, not the way someone bound by guidelines thinks it should be told.

Problem Child said...

I was informed by a very wise Maven that "RAB"--Rules Are BullSh*t.

I'm making that my new mantra...

Deborah Matthews said...

Oh, I like that one, Problem Child.

One of my favorite authors head hops and I never noticed until I started writing. I've heard Nora does as well.


Carla Swafford said...

Rules. Smooules. I'm tired of rules. The only rules I worry about are grammar ones. Then I break those, too. LOL!

I'm a rebel!! Hear me yell! Only my conscious is my guide!

Me? Sit down? Shut up and get back to writing? Yes, ma'am.