Bending the Writing Rules

5fe5a12a684291ba1e3e1a0dbe62423bf82160d0I’ve read a number of articles and blogs that give excellent advice on the rules of writing. For every rule, however, you can find samples of published material that broke them. It reminds me of that quote from the Pirates of the Caribbean, the quote about parlay “the code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual “rules”, and I believe writing rules includes the same term of guideline than a law.

One such rule that lends to my own self editor is the dreaded passive voice. So often I’ve read on a list of rules include this rule; avoid the passive voice! I found a number of books that have plenty of examples strewn amid the pages. Another rule is the concise writing. The advice includes cutting the extra stuff, narrowing sentences to speak clearly, and to avoid things like adjectives and adverbs, This is fine if you intend on professional writing for journals or periodicals, but not so much for blogs, memoirs, or fiction writing.

You also find that not all readers enjoy the same style either. For instance I prefer the more common, down-to-earth writing of a stay at home mom over a professional writer of blogs or advice articles. Overuse of big words and concise writing just bores me.

Some rules to follow  should include using correct spelling and grammar. If nothing else, this shows the reader your ability to master the written language. Its also the one element of writing that shows a glaring lack of skill. I’ve faced a number of comments from readers that admitted to enjoying a story or article but found the one or two mistakes very distracting to the entire piece, so I know of whence I speak. Take care to your craft.

Any first draft, however, you should ignore the rules anyway to let words flow freely. The process of writer, after all, demands rewrites and editing before completing a piece of work. Write to enjoy instead of worrying about mistakes that might prevent you from finishing. Whatever mistakes you make you fix before the final product.

The importance rule of writing is do what works for you. If you’re getting published, whatever it is you’re doing is correct for you.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Bending the Writing Rules

  1. Even Stephen King lists the same rules and more in his book On Writing…then blatantly breaks every single one of them. Is it cause he’s an established writer? Nope. It’s because he writes in his voice, old down home Maine and we actually talk and think the way he writes.

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