Monday, January 7, 2013

The Rules of Writing

I am going to start this off by saying that there are no rules to writing. There are rules of grammar and rules of story, but not rules of writing. There are only rules that writers create for other writers. I’ve learned this over the years as I’ve listened to countless authors verbally bash and harshly critique other authors and their decisions when writing.

I noticed a lot when I was getting my degree in English. The professors would waste, and I mean WASTE, hours of my life to dissect a single paragraph to figure out why this particular author chose to write this particular thing. I don’t know about other writers, but I do not sit in my office and contemplate for hours a paragraph that will boggle the minds of literary experts. I’d like to know who does and ask them to please get a life. This type of thinking ruined my writing for a few years. After I got out of school it took me a really long time to get my creative side going again. I was too concerned on making every sentence and paragraph shine with literary glory. Sometimes I don’t think getting my degree improved my writing, my understanding of the craft maybe, but not my writing. 
I remember one instance in my capstone program where we were asked to read sections from Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight. We were not told what we were to do when we read these just to read them. I thought that we’d be comparing the two and seeing what things Meyer took from Stoker’s tale. It turned into an hour and a half bash on Twilight. What was funny is I found myself the only one in a room of twenty authors that stuck up for Meyer. I asked why we were wasting time bashing someone who wrote a bestselling novel. Obviously Meyer found a way to get people to read her books and we should be discussing that, not how she veered from the rules Stoker created when writing a story about vampires.

I think that writers are too harsh on other writers. The readers that I know, and I know more than a few, shared with me that they do not analyze the choices a writer made when writing. They do not ask why this particular author chose to veer from the rules set by their peers. They read to read—to enjoy the story that is there. I hope that writers can lay off the “rules” and just let others create their art. Yes writing is an art and authors are artists. It’s a creative outlet that should not have constrains and rules. I hope you can remember this and be kind to other writers, and be kind to yourself. And that is my key on the rules of writing.


  1. I LOVE this! And I completely agree! I am not a huge fan of Meyer but I understand that many are. I keep my personal thoughts to myself (unless discussing it with someone who has the same opinion as mine on the matter).

    This is also why I won't write reviews for books that I would give less than 3 stars to. Just because I did not particularly like a book does not mean I will bash it and give it a bad rating. My entire goal is to help authors. Not bring them down and rip apart their work.

    Awesome post!

    Konstanz Silverbow

  2. "... be kind to other writers, and be kind to yourself." What a GREAT, NEW "rule"! Kudos!

  3. Amen! I wish we could shout this on the roof tops and convince people of this. Excellent post! Btw, saying that Meyers was wrong to use her imagination a different way than Stoker means the teacher has to say C S Lewis was wrong to do dwarves differently than Tolkien.

  4. Good job sticking to your guns and bringing in a new perspective. Awesome post.
    I received "Lucius" and love the brilliant colors. Good job! Thanks.


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