Learning the Rules


Rules, rules, and more rules.  Rules make the world a better place – or, well they can.  I have a friend, who is a writer, and she spends countless hours looking up rules or genres.  She hasn’t found her niche yet and is always changing her genre.  It works for her.  The issues? Well every genre has different rules.

Romance has a different word count that is globally expected vs say young adult.  What happens if you ignore the rules?  I suppose that depends.  If an agent or publisher saw something in your query, then maybe nothing.

So what’s my struggle?  When and what rules do you follow blindly, while others can be tossed out the window?  The “rule” is, follow all rules when you are new to publishing.  The kicker?  A lot of first time writers break the rules and still end up successful. So maybe the message I’m getting is, respect the rules, but be prepared to break them.  A good point?  How do you know what rules you are breaking if you didn’t know them to start?

I wish I could deliver a better note to my friend.  I want to tell her go with her gut.  That’s what I do first time around.  My first drafts can be ugly.  No crazy sneak peeks from me.  But in the end, ignoring rules for a first draft gets me through the first draft.  Then, once the creative side of life is complete I edit.  A lot of the “rules” I fix and apply to my next draft.  I only leave those items that my heart can’t allow to be changed.

How about you?  Are you a ‘follow the rules’ kind of writer, or a ‘rules were made to be broken’ kind?  Why?

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8 thoughts on “Learning the Rules

    • M. Ziegler says:

      I would agree! I’ve gotten more written then ever before by ignoring a lot of rules. I’ll keep them in kind for the editing. It’s taken me years to get to a point of separate editing from creativity! Thanks for stopping by.

  1. Loni Townsend says:

    Rules? It’s like they say in Pirates of the Caribbean. Hang the code, and hang the rules. They’re more like guidelines anyway.

    Honestly, I think everything should be considered and weighed, and if the “rules” need to be broken, then do so. Good thoughts about word count. It’s one of those tricky subjects that generate a lot of opinions.

  2. jamieayres says:

    In every other area of life, I love rules . . . but in creative areas, I think they were made to be broken 🙂 Look at all the greats . . . they hardly followed the rules!

  3. emaginette says:

    I think it goes deeper than respect the rules. We need to know them. Then if we have a good reason, we can break one. We need to be aware of what we are doing. Is it a trade off for emphasis sake, or is it the only way the plot will play out believably? We need to be thoughtful, careful and precise. :-

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

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