Breaking the rules

» Posted on Mar 6, 2006 in Blog | 1 comment

I went to a conference this weekend and one of the speakers talked about breaking the rules. One example is one viewpoint per scene (no head hopping). There are other rules we have learned as we have learned the craft of writing. I’ve heard rules about no prologues, no flashbacks, have all the main characters introduced by chapter three, show don’t tell, don’t use said but show a thought or action of the character talking. These are just some of the “rules” that are stated.

I do believe in rules–as guidelines to follow, not absolutes to follow. Some people get so wrapped up in the rules that they forget the main purpose is to tell a good story and keep the reader reading. I have seen the above rules broken so many times and by authors I love and thoroughly enjoyed their books. If something takes me out of the story, then something may be wrong with it. Otherwise, if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it. If you can get away with multiple viewpoints and I’m not confused by what I’m reading, then go for it.

The one rule I think there should be is: write a good, compelling story. How is up to you.

What rules do you think are necessary? What rules do you follow?

1 Comment

  1. Great post! I was thinking about this issue recently when I read a Susan Johnson in which she hopped from one pov to the other from paragraph to paragraph at times.

    I think sometimes “new” writers are held to more stringent rules. It’s an easy way for editors to weed down their slush stacks. But as far as the actual “craft” of writing, I think I’ve seen nearly every rule broken at some point in time. And done well at that!

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