Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Even Further Conversation about the “Rules of Writing” . . .


Rules of writing This Blog Conversation began on October 15th and continued on Oct. 17th19th22nd, 24th, and 26th

If you’re even moderately interested in “rules of writing”, do check out those past posts—we’ve come a long way in this conversation :-)

So…

The first comment to let this discussion move forward came from a poet on Wattpad:

“‘No rule should be followed off a cliff !’ How very true, yet we are often leery of those edgy rules… and how does constraint allow the wings of creativity to spread and fly? Thank you for this very enlightening , relatable , generous essay for all writers to come read and say to themselves, ‘Ah, it’s not just me who wonders about “rules.”‘”

I must first say that without enlightening , relatable , and generous comments from my readers, there would be no “essays” :-)

And, may I ask, are you often “leery” of those “edgy” rules…?

Now, I need to share the etymologies of those two quoted words:

Leery = “‘knowing, wide-awake, untrusting, suspicious, alert’, 1718, originally slang, with -y (2), but otherwise of unknown origin. Perhaps from dialectal lere ‘learning, knowledge’ (see lore), or from leer (v.) in a now-obscure sense ‘walk stealthily with averted looks, sneak away’ (1580s).”

Edgy = “‘having sharp edges’, 1755, from edge (n.) + -y (2). Meaning ‘tense and irritable’ is attested by 1837, perhaps from notion of being on the edge, at the point of doing something irrational (a figurative use attested from c. 1600).”

So, we can become knowing, wide-awake, untrusting, suspicious, and alert about “rules” that might lead us to doing something irrational…?

Well, I sure am :-)

Plus, if rules are overly constraining we can’t “allow the wings of creativity to spread and fly”…

Now, a responsive comment from an author-publisher who I asked, in a previous post, “Perhaps our German commenter’s potential fright when exposing her writing is fearing some ‘judgement’; or, worse, receiving no response to her particular Truth…?”:

“I always feel that a young manuscript is vulnerable. So many things can still happen to change the text, maybe hurt it. First responses are useful when they offer new ideas and directions for growth. But they also have the potential of cutting off ways and stifling ideas.”

And, that exchange in this discussion broadened our considerations to the “rules” about how we “should” treat our works-in-progress as they’re offered to beta-readers

“Rules” there are for every phase of writing and so many of those “rules” can, indeed, slow or stop our writing…

And, the same German author-publisher offered another comment:

“Getting in touch with one’s inner authenticity is important. I believe writers often reach down into this well of creativity. The question is if they can stand by what they have written or if they turn to rules after writing and delete what doesn’t conform to them.”

This seems to me an authorial sin—deleting words and ideas because of someone else’s “rules”…

I must now quote Irish author Colum McCann:

“On occasion we write a sentence that isn’t, in fact, correct, but it sings. And the question is: Would you rather be the ornithologist or the bird?”

Do you have other opinions about “rules for writing”…?

Or, you may have ideas for where to find “rules for writing”…?

Or, you may not understand why there should ever be any “rules for writing”…?

And, you might be the first reader to comment and allow this discussion to continue :-)
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6 responses to “Even Further Conversation about the “Rules of Writing” . . .

  1. martinaseveckepohlen October 29, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    We need rules that can help us read our sentences with the eyes of outsiders who haven’t been listening to the ideas in our heads but have to rely on our words on the page. Such rules wouldn’t be writing rules, more writing signposts.
    Having read “No rule should be followed over a cliff” so often I remember a holiday trip to Denmark. In Germany, people are used to railings and barriers that keep us away from cliffs, often with several yards between the railing and the cliff. It is impossible to look over the cliff and see what lies behind or below. In Denmark, we followed a path along a cliff. There were no railings, just an old sign half hidden between trees that reminded us of the danger. And we could see the danger, and the long way down to yet more cliffs and water.
    A useful rule would always remind us of the long way down but let us ramble along the edge.

    Like

  2. Pingback: Still Further Conversation about the “Rules of Writing” . . . | Notes from An Alien

  3. R. Jean Bell October 31, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    I think the question is if the benefits of not following the rule outweigh the risk of breaking it. Sometimes new authors break the rules because they don’t know they’re there or don’t understand how the “rule” really helps them make their writing stronger. You have to learn what the rules give you before you can judge well whether or not to break them.

    If you break rules because you don’t care about the rules or break rules because you don’t know better or break rules just to prove you can, it’s probably not the right time to break the rules. Break the rules because the story or poem or whatever is stronger when the rule is broken.

    I see a lot of people saying “oh, I’m going to write a second person story” just because they want to flaunt the rule or consider it something they have to do to prove some point that the rules don’t apply to them. In many cases, these stories would be stronger and connect better to the reader in first or third person instead. That’s breaking the rule for the wrong reason.

    Like

  4. Pingback: Yet Further Conversation about the “Rules of Writing” . . . | Notes from An Alien

  5. Pingback: Yes, We’re Still Having a Conversation about the “Rules of Writing” . . . | Notes from An Alien

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