Breaking All the Rules

It is my firm contention that writing rules prevent you from making serious mistakes, and an author violates them at their peril.  That being said, there is one overriding principle:

If it works, do it.

If you want to break a rule, it’s helpful to follow these guidelines:

  • Know that you’re breaking a rule
  • Understand why the rule exists and the ramifications of breaking the rule
  • Consciously decide to break the rule only after determining that the benefit in doing so outweighs the downside

2 thoughts on “Breaking All the Rules

  1. Brian, I don’t have any quarrel with the principle of ‘If it works, do it’, but I do have a question – how exactly do you decide whether something works? Is this just a matter of instinct or gut feel?

    • Pauline,

      Generally, the author isn’t the best judge of what works, especially when it involves breaking the rules. I think that truly figuring out what works involves having really, really good beta readers. If the author likes it and the beta readers agree, I think it’s safe to say that it works.

      Thanks for the comment!


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