Saturday, July 6, 2013

Take It From Me: Guidelines, Not Rules

Writing can be so frustrating and hard. Our inner critic is always making us think our writing isn't good enough,  and driving our want to improve.

Naturally, we look to professional writers in hope of seeking advice for improvement. Usually the advice is helpful. We learn things like, "show, don't tell" and that "the road to hell is paved with adverbs." Its common advice and helps make your descriptions stronger.

That being said, I find that many writers, especially those just starting out, stick to advice like glue. Too often I read feedback that say, "good writing shouldn't have adverbs" or " always show, never tell". Writers start to think of advice as the "rules" of writing. I put that in quotation marks, because there are NO rules to writing.  You can tell your whole story, or never once give a description of setting. Even grammar isn't required to write a book ( See this excerpt of Blood Red Road by Moira Young). You can write however you want; in the way you feel is best for your story.

Advice is great, but it should be thought of as guidelines. Things you can use to improve your writing until you can learn to break the guidelines and create your own voice. If you don't know how to describe a fighting scene, search online for some tips to help guide you. Just remember that at the end of the day, you can still write the scene however you want. Feel free to follow some things but ignore others if they don't fit with your story.

So when you hear good advice, use it, but know that it isn't written in stone. In the end, its the story you tell that matters.

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