Rules Are Made To Be Broken

A word of caution: This entry was written at 2:15am, and therefore may not make one ounce of sense. I was bound to have at least one of those, right?

I just heard several of you practically scream at that title, “Ahhh! A cliche!”

I have an entire bookshelf (okay, two) dedicated to writing books. They range from craft (creating characters, plot, setting, genre-specific) to publishing (indie publishing, Writer’s Market, blogging, self-publishing) to writing for profit (freelancing). All of these books have one big idea in common; they give you guidelines and rules for how to write the perfect piece, submit that perfect piece, and make money from that piece.

Here’s the funny part: all of the rules and guidelines have been broken. There are bestsellers that feature a Mary Sue character (I’m looking at you, Twilight), award winning articles that didn’t follow the reverse pyramid writing template, and centuries-honored poems that don’t follow any of the basics of grammar. Do you know why?

The people that we are writing these for don’t really care about 75% of what’s in those writing books. I can think of dozens of books that, following the so-called rules and guidelines, should have never seen the light of day. They should have been about three feet deep in the Reject or, if lucky, the Slush pile.

People want a entertaining story. Editors and agents are paid to look over our words and dissect them. In the end, though, our success depends on the people you see browsing the bookstore, looking for something to get lost in. I know I made that sound easy, and I know it is hardly easy. But aside from one person (who was a writer), I have never heard anyone go into a bookstore and say, “I’m looking for a cozy thriller that is at least 75,000 words. It has to involve two subplots, and the antagonist has to have a height complex due to the fact that he’s short…you know, to make him seem human.” Sounds insane, doesn’t it? That’s how we talk to each other in this field, and to the typical reader, it sounds robotic and flat.

So, I did all of that rambling to finish with this and somehow get back to the point: By all means, read up and study your craft. Once you’ve done that, forget everything you read and just write. If you tell an engaging story and are passionate about what you are writing, someone out there will read it…and love it.

This entry was posted in Learning From Art, Publishing, The Writing Craft and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Rules Are Made To Be Broken

  1. DesArtsUK says:

    Reblogged this on DesArtsUK and commented:
    So true!

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