Writing Rules Are a Pain in the…

Writing rules are important. They provide some stability to a story and create a better understanding to get points across. They do.

The truth is, everyone has opinions on what those rules are. And they swear they know every single one.

Well, sometimes, they don’t.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I like the rules. I think saying:

She sat there, legs crossed, kicking her left leg out, smacking her gum as she studied the screen.

– sounds and reads much better than:

She was sitting there. She was crossing her legs and smacking her gum. She was frowning at the screen.

But then, I like one sentence, with a precise description. I now hate saying was.

This rule- no was verb phrases- has been pounded into my brain in the last three years. I try to work around it and write tighter, more concise descriptions.

The -ly adverbs rule kinda drives me insane. Sometimes you just can’t get away without one. or three. Because if you don’t, your sentence is passive- which is another dang rule I break, and often.

For example:

Excerpt: Wishin On Fire, a chapter called Your Best Night

The first glass appeared in front of him, and he drank it greedily. The burn did not do its job as the letters of his ‘new’ name danced in front of his eyes in time to the music. Consonants lit in rippling blue flames to mock him, and the vowels were sweet little birds innocently flying into the flames. Their helpless tweets matched the notes to Dennis Lloyd’s “Nevermind” as they poofed into a feathery death.

Shots two and three were wasted on drowning the consonants. As the fourth shot made its way down his throat, he still couldn’t come up with a decent nickname for Cerulean. His brothers got the cool names, and he was stuck with the one shade of blue that had no really great short.

The passage above hasn’t changed all that much from the original draft, but let me tell ya. I got sooooo many complaints about the adverbs and the passive voice. Then I realized the readers had completely missed the point. John is trying to get drunk, and if you’ve been there- had a memory in your life you wanted to drown- it makes sense.

In the end, I kept the passive voice and the adverbs. John is numb. Passive voice makes sense.

Point is, these rules have their place. And sometimes you gotta break ’em.

Which writing rules do you have a love/hate relationship with?

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