Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Yes, We’re Still Having a Conversation about the “Rules of Writing” . . .

This Blog Conversation began on October 15th and continued on Oct. 17th19th22nd24th26th29th, 31st, and November 2nd… Rules of Writing

It’s also the longest discussion, so far, in this new style of posting that began back in March…

And, I encourage anyone interested in thinking deeply about the “rules of writing” to go back and read the past nine posts—our readers’ comments are very thought provoking…

The first commenter on our last post is the reader who’s commented the most in this series of conversations—an author-publisher from Germany:

“We have mentioned in this and former installments 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.”

This idea of reading to learn how to write (“properly”) certainly isn’t about reading books about “how to write”—it’s reading books you consider having been written by authors who know what their doing; still, it could be a challenge selecting the set of (“proper”) writers to read.

Is Stephen King “proper”—J. K. Rowling, Michael Crichton, John Grisham, James Patterson, C. J. Cherryh, Neil Gaiman, _________, _________, _________ ?

I certainly have my own ideas about which authors are worth reading to “instruct” me in the way to use words; yet, of course, reading a particular author-as-instructor has nothing in it of copying their style.

And, other “writers-in-the-trenches” have their own set(s) of “qualified-enough-to-read-for-guidance-authors”.

As our commenter from Germany said, writers must be “able to recognize writing that works and writing that doesn’t work…”.

Which prompts me to ask a question that I hope will receive a few answers in the comments: What is writing that “works”…?

Now, a comment from a writer, poet and artist from Belgium:

“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.

“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.”

I’ve read this commenter’s blog and it certainly seemed to me that they have a fluent command of English; but, here I am now, concluding I know what I’m saying about the “rules” of English—me, the grammar and syntax Maverick…

So, are we back to the overarching axiom that the writing, no matter what “rules” it breaks, must be something that “works”…?

Works for any particular reader or a set of genre fans or TradHouse editors, or………?

I remember someone criticizing a bit of my writing in a story as “wrong” and me letting them know it just happened to be the way that character spoke…

And, God help the poor writer subjected to an editor on one of that editor’s bad days…

This seems a good place to insert a quote that’s been in every post in this conversation:

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…

And, this is an appropriate time to reveal that I, the author who can’t abide being in groups of writers, has joined a writer’s group—a group in which our commenter from Belgium is an administrator—a group I’ve been in with my Best Friend (an author from Australia who is also a creator of Virtual Worlds) and we both had a good time…

Perhaps, if you’re a reader who’s wondering how to gain a bit of confidence in your writing, a reader who wants to chat about rules and such, you might like how this writer’s group I’ve joined talks about itself:

“…a safe and inclusive home for writers of all skill levels and backgrounds. As a community, we celebrate our diversity and work to help each other improve our skills as both writers and editors and to encourage each other in our efforts….We respect, however, that everyone has their own path and that not every method works for everyone. The goal is to create an environment that encourages creativity, growth, and exploration of methods and styles of growth.”

Here’s the website for the group: INKUBATOR.

You can go there and “feel out” the group’s “atmosphere”…

However, they have the actual group meeting space on something called Discord

So, if you want to be a member of this group, take their Invitation to Join


In case this conversation about “rules of writing” wants to continue:

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

2 responses to “Yes, We’re Still Having a Conversation about the “Rules of Writing” . . .

  1. Pingback: A Blog Conversation about Book Promotion . . . | Notes from An Alien

  2. Pingback: A Blog Conversation about Book Promotion . . . | Notes from An Alien

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