Tahlia Newland’s latest article discusses the importance of the rules of writing in independent publishing.
There has long been debate among authors as to whether or not they should follow writing rules. The opinions swing from the die-hard believers that good books must follow every ‘rule’ ever written to those who believe they should be ignored because following rules compromises their creativity.
Many assume that editors must all believe in rigidly following ‘rules’, but that is not the case because editing is a lot more than just applying the rules of grammar, spelling and punctuation; at the developmental and line editing stage, editing is an art form where the editor makes informed decisions as to how to best communicate the author’s intent.
IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE AN EITHER/OR OPINION
Personally, apart from the conventions of grammar and punctuation that remain current, I think of what some call writing rules as writing tips or guidelines. The idea is to use these guidelines in a way that will help, not hinder.
Don’t concern yourself with them on your first draft when you’re just trying to get the story out while the inspiration is flowing. Use them at the self-editing stage to turn your telling into showing, to tighten up your prose and make it more interesting, and use them as a diagnostic tool to help you work out why a scene isn’t as powerful as it should be.