Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Lesson to Writing #4 You Need to Know The Rules before You can Break the Rules

Although I may not feel it, I’ve been writing for six years now, and over that time, I’ve picked up bits of knowledge. In the following Wednesdays, I’ll be sharing those bits of knowledge in my series: Six Lessons to Writing. Today, I’m continuing the series with Lesson #4: You Need to Know The Rules before You can Break The Rules:


"You need to know The Rules before you can break The Rules."

We’ve all heard that saying before. I believe that what it really means is that you have to understand what The Rules are about before you break them. You need to understand why The Rules are rules so that you can break The Rules and get away with it.

Take, for example, writing a prologue. Prologues are regarded as being big no-no’s in writing. Yet, some authors do… and they get away with it! My last WIP had a prologue in it even though I knew it was breaking one of The Rules. I eventually cut it from the WIP and my story was better off without it.

The reason some writers can get away have a prologue is because they know what The Rules are regarding prologues, they understand why The Rules are there, and so they know how to break The Rules and write an effective prologue.
That’s the gist of this post: it’s important for writers to understand why The Rules are there so that they can ensure they don’t make a major no-no.

For the comments, what are your thoughts on this? What have your experiences been with The Rules, and what Rules have you broken?


  1. I agree with this post. It's true; it's not so much that you have to know and FOLLOW the rules, as understand why they're rules, so if you ever venture in to Rule-Breaking Land you'll know what you're doing and how to compensate, in a way.

    "The Rules" (quote quote) can really be frustrating as a writer. Especially if you have a vision for one thing, but all the experienced writers are saying it can't/shouldn't be done. I think you may have nailed that it's simply a need to understand WHY it shouldn't/can't be done, and perhaps one day work around it if you choose.

    Good post. *thumbs up*