Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

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

This Blog Conversation began on October 15th and continued on Oct. 17th19th22nd24th26th, 29th, and 31st… Rules of writing

And, I’ll kick off this 9th installment with a piece of writing guidance that’s in every one of those past posts:

No rule should be followed over a cliff.

If you take that last link, you’ll find more guidance from the author of that quote…


Now, we can read a comment from an Author, Poet, Editor, and Photographer living in Denmark:

“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.”

So, we have two viewpoints that say there are rules for writers; one saying none of them should be followed over a cliff; the second cautioning a need for understanding rules enough so that breaking them actually aids the written work; and, that last thought encourages me to share another quote from a past post in this discussion…

from 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?”

And, I probably should share an opinion many writers declare—you can learn the rules of writing if you do enough reading of books written by accomplished authors—“accomplished” not necessarily meaning produced by the largest traditional publishers; though, there are plenty of excellent writers from the Trad Houses…

But, how would we know an author is accomplished?

I’ll leave an answer to that question for a brave commenter :-)

Now, some ideas from one of our frequent commenters, an author from the United Kingdom:

“I have come to this conversation late and it has obviously developed from ‘We need full stops and Capital letters.’ However, there is one ‘rule’ that new writers may not be aware of; and, that is the rule of ‘point of view.’ It is so much easier for the reader if at least each chapter is seen from the point of view of a single character. This is a rule that I kept to for five books and then broke, deliberately, in the sixth as I wanted the reader to know what two characters were thinking at the same time.

“I did once find it very annoying when there were a number of folk in a book I was reading and they all bombarded me with thoughts at the same time. I suppose it can work…

“Sorry if I’ve been too simple in my interpretation.”

First, I don’t feel our author from the U.K. has oversimplified…

I suppose I could restate the main point in the comment as: Be very careful of representing the soundtrack of a loud party in your writing :-)

Plus, the fact that both commenters brought up point-of-view might be another example of Synchronicity appearing in this discussion…

I need to let you know that each of our authors today shared their ideas in the comments section of different posts in this series, so I’ll leave it to one of them to let us know if we did experience again what happened in this post

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…
If you don’t see a way to comment, try the link at the upper right of this post…
Our Blog Conversations are on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays—the rest of the week, I share valuable posts from other blogs

For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

5 responses to “Yet Further Conversation about the “Rules of Writing” . . .

  1. martinaseveckepohlen November 3, 2018 at 9:10 am

    We have mentioned in this and former conversations the importance of reading for good writing. A writer doesn’t have to be able to spell out a rule but he or she has to be able to recognize writing that works and writing that doesn’t work. If a writer wants to experiment – why not? Yet the writer should be able to judge the experimental text and decide if it works for readers (for whatever rule) or if it doesn’t.


  2. Jasmine Arch November 3, 2018 at 9:29 pm

    There are many facets to this discussion.

    On the one hand, there’s the story and what works for it. But on the other hand, there’s the credit people will give you in breaking rules too.

    A published author who has had the opportunity to build a reputation will probably be more easily forgiven for breaking the rules than a noob like myself. I’ve spent a lot of time studying the craft of writing and story mechanics. But I haven’t proven myself yet, have I?

    As a non-native English speaker, people who don’t know me are even more likely to assume I’m ignorant or an unpracticed writer, since many rules and conventions differ for other languages.

    If I go kicking down doors, I don’t know if it will be as easily accepted. People may assume I break rules out of ignorance, since they’ve yet to find out I’m not ignorant.

    That said, I look forward to more discussion on the topic.

    Liked by 1 person

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

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