They’re More Like Guidelines

What Barbosa said of the pirate code in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl is equally true to any ‘rule’ of writing.

No art has hard inviolate rules, but there are guidelines that experts knows, understand, and ignore with the knowledge that the ‘rule’ doesn’t always apply.

Take ‘Show don’t Tell.’

As I have expounded on with other essays there are loads of time when tell is the better option than show. Understanding s=why you show vs tell also informs you as to when you tell versus show.

Cut out of adverbs and or adjectives.

You know those words with the pesky -ly endings that pop up so easily when you are drafting prose. in many cases that -ly words weaken your sentences. In the case of the adverbs it is usually the case that another verb works better rather than altering the verb you have selected. Yet there are times when going to the -ly word is fast and punchy compared to perhaps a longer and more complex composition.

Start with the action!

Sure starting your short story or novel with a weather description can be deadly dull, but there are light-years of difference between a dull weather report and something sets a mood and an expectation. A proper mood at the start preps the reader for the experience, laying down the authorial promise of competence and a tale that will be told correctly. An additional danger of starting right away with big action is that without prior knowledge of the characters it is likely to come of as flat and interesting. Action is meaningful and emotion when it has consequences and it can only have consequences if we are invested in the characters.

These are just a few of the ‘rules’ for writing, there are many more and they should all be viewed with a suspicious eye.