Da Rules

Writers hold in high esteem experts and writing books and authors we think are doing it right. We practice, we’re persistent and some of us are patient. Intent on mastering our craft, we perfect our skills. Yet sometimes when I’m frustrated, I grumble. “Who made up these rules, anyway?”
Writing Tip for Today: Writers obediently learn and follow the rules, but there’s always that writer who breaks them and gets away with it. Many rules of good English are inane, but the wise writer knows which rules to break and when. Take a look at these areas where rule-breaking may not be a good idea:

  • Dialogue Dangers. Unless you are great at writing dialect, keep your dialogue readable. If the reader gets lost wading through dropped gs, odd-spellings or other hard-to-read jargon, that reader may close your book. For good.
  • Tension, Inside and Out. Even the most literary novel needs tension if it lacks action. Usually, a novel needs both. Action, or outward tension (in the form of confrontation) and inward tension (longings, dreams or unfulfilled desires).
  • Far-away Characters. Some writers purposefully write in the omniscient voice or they keep the camera far from the main character, to give the story an existential feel.  Today’s reader wants intimacy, close-up struggle and a character they deem worthy of following.

There are lots more rules that in most cases should be respected. We can fly by the seats of our collective pants, but until we’ve mastered a writing tool or technique, we probably need to follow it. More on this later.

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About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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