- Show, Don't Tell. This is usually a good rule, but not invariably. Some less riveting bits of a novel are best summed up in a brief paragraph rather than shown happening. And I'm not a fan of describing the minutiae of facial expressions in order to avoid 'telling' when we are all so good at reading people's faces. I favour, 'The Professor came in, looking furtive and agitated' over, 'The Professor came in, his brow furrowed, his colour high, glancing over his shoulder as if checking he could not be overheard.'
- Avoid Adverbs. Well, okay, it's certainly possible to overdo them, but I've been on writing sites where you got criticized if you used any at all. I don't see why they should be pariahs - adverbs are just one tool in the writer's toolbox.
- Stick To Single POV. There are occasions when this is a good idea. Mary Renault in Fire From Heaven has an excellent scene entirely in Demosthenes' POV, where he mistakes a young Alexander the Great for a slave boy. The reader enjoys seeing through his eyes while knowing his mistake. In other parts of the book she uses multiple POVs, and why not? It works.
- Don't Start A Book With Dialogue. Why ever not? Two out of my four books start with dialogue; my favourite being the line suggested as a good opener for Trav Zander by Alan Hutcheson, "I wish to acquire a dragon."
- Kill Your Darlings. Weird, this one; we are advised to delete any passages of our writing we think particularly good. Um...why? If I truly trusted my own judgment so little, then how would I know I'd got anything right at all?
Sunday, 15 May 2011
Pinch of salt, meet writing rules
There is only one writing rule you should never, ever, break: Don't Bore The Reader.
Everything else is negotiable.
I was going to make that two unbreakable rules, the other being Get Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar Right, but then it occurred to me that the most successful indie writer ever, Amanda Hocking, admits her books are far from flawless in that regard.
So, on to rules you can break as necessary:
Have I missed any others?
Posted by Lexi at Sunday, May 15, 2011