The Purpose of IWSG is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
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What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?
First off, I’ve always had an issue with the word rule. It takes a hell of a lot of hubris to come up with a subjective construct and label it a rule, but writers, publishers, editors, agents, and the reading public do it all the time. Some rules stick, others do not.
Write what you know? Don’t use adverbs? Shun the passive voice? These aren’t rules. At best they’re guidelines. Some don’t even achieve guideline status, they’re trends. For example, open with action and avoid prologues.
Sure, it’s crucial to understand the rules. It’s only by learning the rules can we confidently break them. And since this IS an IWSG post, it’s important to note familiarity with the rules will make you a stronger, more self-assured writer. The key is to never allow any so-called rule to dictate your process, voice, or style, or to interfere with your story.
Now, back to January’s question. The one rule I wish would die a slow and painful death?
Never edit as you go.
This little ditty has cost me thousands upon thousands of wasted words and untold hours, days, and months (NaNo anyone?) of squandered time. The result? Superficial unsalvageable drivel worthy of a politician and not even meriting a save in my Dead Darlings file.
If you are a stickler and must have rules, might I suggest Neil Gaiman’s Eight Rules of Writing? For Neil, rule one is, WRITE. Now, that’s a rule, I can get onboard with.
But in general, I say, rules shmooles! Never open with the weather? Show don’t tell? No sentence fragments? Pshaw! Not me. Rules are made to be broken, and I’m proud to be a rebel without a clause.
Turning this month’s question on its end,
is there a writing rule you’d NEVER break?
and a wonderful journey each step of the way.