Welcome to my world and beyond...

A collection of snippets of the books I write and, occasionally, my life and the things that inspire my writing...

Monday, April 21, 2014

A to Z R is for Rules

Writing rules...I never knew there were so many until after I'd started writing. It's part of the process, though, and rules exist for a reason--to have our writing make sense, otherwise, why bother? But...

There are rules, and then there are rules.Grammar and punctuation are pretty objective. Beyond those, it's kind of a crap shoot. Here's why: I googled writing rules. I came up with Elmore Leonard's writing rules, Neil Gaiman's writing rules,  Steinbecks, Amanda Patterson's, even Pixar's. There are articles about what rules to never break, and there are articles on which rules you should break and how to do it (which actually sort of just replaces one set of rules with another set, right??)

Grammar and punctuation aside, I think writing rules are really just opinions...

One of my favorite authors, C.J. Cherryh said something a while back that really resonated with me. "Follow no rule off a cliff."

Where do you stand on writing rules? Do you follow your own? Do you heed the rules of others?


  1. When I realised what you were writing about I nodded my head in agreement. Writing is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But now I’m addicted. I don’t know where you live but sounds like your garden is doing better than ours. And the heavy snow broke one of the gnomes as well

    I follow some rules..

  2. Like Joan Didion said, "Grammar is a piano I play by ear."

  3. As you say, rules are there for a reason, but also rules are made to be broken. The one rule in writing that I stand by 100% is, "Do what works."

  4. Rules are interesting, educational and can be useful, but all rules - even grammar rules - can be broken in the name of good storytelling! :)

  5. It's funny, when I write for myself (usually in first draft) I aim to break all the rules except one: I write to amuse myself. :)
    Only when it's time to share this story with the world, do I examine which rules I should follow.
    Fortunately, following most of the rules makes my story amusing to both me and the rest of the world!
    Kirsten @ A Scenic Route ;)

  6. Never knew there were writing rules - so automatically I follow none. I write the way I want to. Surely that's what makes our writing unique and interesting. Nice one for R - learned something new today.
    Dropping by from A to Z
    Suzy at Someday Somewhere

  7. I kind of feel sorry for younger or newer writers who are led to believe they MUST follow someone else's idea of rules, even if writers 50-100 years ago didn't follow those rules. For example, I can't share many modern writers' hatred of adverbs. While I do cringe at the massive adverb overuse I see in older books, sometimes a well-chosen adverb works better than 10-20 extra words.