Like any rules, I believe they need to be challenged. You need to understand the purpose of the rule, and why sometimes you need to break them.
I’ve found a number of editors warning;
- Do not start with weather.
- Do not use prologues or dream sequences at the beginning.
- Show, don’t tell.
- Write every day.
And the list goes on and on. Like any rule, you can find exceptions. How is it that this writer got their book printed when they broke rule number 2? The answer to that is simple; the story offered something more.
A good story is many parts. Plot, character, conflict, resolution, tension, description, dialog, and other elements weave into an intricate story that must snag the reader along. A story about man versus nature can get away with starting with weather, providing the weather carries a direct impact on the story.
You have to decide for yourself what rules to follow and when, so here are some guidelines to help;
- Remember that writing rules help the reader move through your story. You want our reader to enjoy the story, not trudge through cliché’, boring description, weak conflict, and even weaker characters.
- Read your story out loud to see if the scene works. You’ll find awkward writing needs reworked, and bad writing deleting altogether. If it doesn’t sound right- its not working.
- Let others read your work to gain a new perspective. If you’ve been working on your manuscript for months (or years) its entirely possible you’ve lost perspective on things. You take things for granted. A fresh pair of eyes offers the writer opinion on those glaring mistakes you don’t even notice.
- Learn the rules, but also understand why they were made in the first place. Show, don’t tell let’s writers understand they need to tell a story in such a way the reader lives the story. Write every day teaches the writer how important to practice every day (although writing regularly counts just as much).
Should you break the rules? Bear in mind the publishing industry has fierce competition. Editors and publishers may not appreciate the rebel attitude. They look for ‘fresh voices’ in literature. It’s a risk, so understand why you’re breaking the rule if you do so.
Best of luck to all writers out there in their endeavors!