Thursday, July 8, 2010

Writing Rules

Okay, not going to bore you with a bunch of stuff. Just click here and off you to a great post about writing rules.

Now, a great tidbit from that post: Of course, new writers need to understand the rules. But if we’re not careful, we will turn the creative process into a formula and make literary Pharisees out of our proteges.

My thoughts (okay, did you seriously think I wasn't going to expound a bit on what I read??? Seriously?): Woo-hoo!

Wasn't that brief enough for you? Yep, still a bit snarky. It happens.

Seriously, I and many other aspiring writers have complained - sometimes bitterly - about the overwhelming rules out there and how we, over time, learn to ignore many of the rules. It's all part of the writing process. We, as writers, can either fall victim to the rules and stifle our creativity or, we as writers, can moderate the rules we choose to use and stimulate our creativity.

S

6 comments:

Indigo said...

I agree. Things are complicated enough for a new writer without rules that appear to wear concrete shoes. Yes, there are the basic rules we should all follow - grammar, sentence structure, and formatting.

However if a writer is ever going to find their own voice, they need to listen to the story above all else. (Hugs) Indigo

Jemi Fraser said...

I agree too. Even when I teach my elementary students, I tell them they have to know the rules, but they're very allowed to break them for effect.

Eric W. Trant said...

There's only one rule to writing:

BE CLEAR

That's it. All the other rules support this one single goal.

- Eric

VR Barkowski said...

I agree, too. Breaking the rules is essential for any writer. I see it as an equation:

Learn the rules + Learn when to break the rules = VOICE

Jody Hedlund said...

I couldn't agree with you more. We learn them, and then through the process develop our own unique voice and way of expressing them. Learning fiction basics isn't about writing in a formulaic way. It's more about learning what appeals to our readers, then keeping that balance of writing from our heart but having the reader in mind too.

Scott said...

Indigo – here’s a thought: perhaps the innumerable rules are out there to weed out the true writers from the “oh, this might be a neat thing to do” writers. I mean, after a while, the serious writers learn to break the rules. I’m thinking the non-serious writers become overwhelmed and just give up. Ha!

Jemi – one of my English Lit professors in college once told me: you can break the rules when you’re a writer. Ha! Who knew I would take her words so seriously? She did a big discussion on the writing rules and that, even in our essays, it was okay to break them but – she wanted an explanation in the margin why we thought it was okay to break the rules. She was a great teacher.

Eric – you’re so right.

VR – I love your equation, even though math wasn’t ever my favorite subject. I was more of a recess kind of guy. Ha! I think the thing with rules, is a writer needs to know when to break them, and when to adhere to them. Balance.

Jody – I think (no, I know, at least with me) that the longer we write, the more comfortable we become, and we are able to move beyond a formulaic way of writing. The rules are nothing more than stepping stones on a path. Sometimes, you can hop over a stone and still get to where you’re going.