Literary misdemeanors

Before I start today’s topic, I just wanted to mention the blogger Dal Jeanis. I have a link to his blog under the blogroll, in the sidebar. On March 9th he posted a blog, regarding my blog, on too much description. He disagreed with my examples for obvious description, “the sky above him”, and “the ground below him”. His blog may disagree with mine on this point, but his blog made some valid points, and he wrote it in a very respectful manner.  He does many reviews, and after reading some, I have concluded that he is worth reading, so I’ve added him to my blogroll.

I felt it was worth mentioning his review, because it brings up a very good point.  Creative writing, as well as any art has very few actual rules that must be followed.  My blogs are not about hard rules, but about guidelines. Our interpretation of the rules and guidelines is what gives us our individual style.

I have been known to break some of my own rules based on what the situation calls for.  This is especially helpful when you write yourself into a corner.  In some cases of writer’s block, the problem has more to do with a fear of breaking the rules, than running out of ideas.

When you break the rules in writing, be consistent throughout the individual piece.  This is one area that you can lose readers. If you spend the first half of a story using contractions in the dialogue, as a natural part of someone’s speech, then the second half without any contractions, the story can get confusing.  If you keep the rules for each story consistent, readers will keep reading.

The rules that work in one story, may not work at all in another story.  Don’t be afraid to change the rules to fit the new story. This especially works when you write a new story with all new characters.  The rules you choose for characters should remain the same, when you have the same character in multiple stories.  Other than that, you should be open to rule changes.

As writers, we should leave ourselves open to change the rules if we need to.  Remember, there are no literary police waiting to take you in for bending, stretching, or breaking the rules.  What do you have to lose?

Challenge:  Look at a story you’ve been struggling to write, and see if a change in rules can free you up.


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2 Responses to “Literary misdemeanors”

  1. gigi1953 Says:

    Good point about consistency, Allen. Breaking the rules, like you say, only works if consistent. Then it becomes a “style”, all your own. Something I’d never thought about. Thanks!

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