Friday, December 12, 2014


by Kelly

Recently, I had a conversation with another writer about breaking The Rules. I can’t tell you her name (anonymity is her only protection), but trust me when I say she’s a very successful author.
We talked about how writers can get so caught up in the rules of writing (AKA whatever Stephen King tells us) that we limit our creativity. She told me a story about a sentence she wrote, one that now appears on the dedication page of her best-selling novels. Her writer’s group absolutely hated it:
“They critiqued it to death. So I took it to a co-worker and he said, ‘This is what needs to be said, don’t let people pick it apart.’”
Her advice? Allow yourself to let go of the restraints and write without that inner editor whitewashing everything.
Don’t worry, I’m not going completely vigilante. Writing rules are there for a reason.  I look back at my earlier creative work and cringe at the amount of adverbs that drip from the pages. Passive voice also features prominently, along with -ing words.
mr. tSometimes, however, a little grammatical bling is necessary. It’s the place where art bypasses mechanics in the writing process. (Just remember, not Mr. T bling, Kate Middleton bling.)
I leave you with these rule-breaking sentences for thought. Don’t let your inner editor ruin them.
“Beauty is an enormous, unmerited gift given randomly, stupidly.”
—Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed
“She wasn’t doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together.”
—J. D. Salinger, A Girl I Knew
“She was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.”
—Kate Chopin, The Awakening
“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart; I am, I am, I am.”
—Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
"Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."
—Dorothy Gale, The Wizard of Oz
Rhett Butler, Gone with the Wind


Patricia Stoltey said...

Well said, Kelly. It's good to learn all the rules, and then break them when you darned well feel like it.

Shirley Drew said...

Love it, love it, love it, Kelly. It's important to know the rules well enough so that you know when it's okay to break them!

Dean K Miller said...

Even a straight road looks curvy on a hot summer day. I say, "bend away!"

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