Discussion in 'General Writing' started by GreyWolf, Feb 15, 2009.
Do you have rules when you write? Or do you just let the words flow and let it take you wherever?
There are hundreds of so-called rules. The thing about rules that that we need to follow them, yet be free to throw them all out the window when necessary, so instead of learning rules, it's better to develop instincts.
I never pay attention to rules. I usually write out whatever comes and if I feel the story is important enough, I'll leave the rules to the editors. lol
Great, iv'e been confused at what to do, right now i'm just letting it take me wherever...ill see what I have at the end hehe.
One thing I have found out, that if I try to fight where it wants go I usually lose the argument.
no, I don't have any... but i do obey most of the established ones...
Rules, or rather guidelines, aren't really things you normally have to think about when you are writing, unless you have discovered a tendency to break certain ones. Then you have to think about them until they become second nature.
From time to time, you may decide to violate a guideline to obtain a desired effect. That should be a deliberate and conscious choice though.
The reason the guidelines exist is because when they are not followed, the writing is usually impacted in an unfavorable way. You should only break a guideline if you understand whhy it exists, and what the result of breaking it will be. Even then, there may be equally effective ways to achieve the same effect without breaking the guidelines.
Breaking the rules in rebellion will usually impress you more than it does anyone else.
I just write for fun, I find it really fun what I write about, but if I want somone else to read it I will have to change it. I wish I knew what the rules are actually! haha.
The March/April 2009 edition of Writer's Digest has a column written by Brian Klems answering reader questions. One question asks "...Should I follow the Chicago manual in my fiction writing or not?"
Here is an excerpt from his answer: "...most publishers use The Chicago Manual of Style--or some version of it--as a formatting guide for their books..."
To the extend that your question reflects SPaG and other grammar rules, I try to follow these same CMS guidelines. If I deviate from accepted guidelines, I make sure I am consistent with that style-change throughout the manuscript because (according to the article) editors watch carefully for consistency in writing style. I strongly recommend an online membership in The Chicago Manual of Style...I believe they offer a one-month trial membership for free--check it out:
As far as storyline, plot devices and character development, I also follow certain general principles that I find enjoyable in books I read...but I am not rigid about it. Each story unfolds however it unfolds.
The hardcopy Chicago Manual of Style is very reasonably priced, and should be available in most bookstores.
It's a bit more picky than most fiction writers need to be, but if you really want to know the pickier aspects of SPaG, it's excellent.
For most writers Strunk and White's The Elements of Style will meet most of their writing needs.
I have both volumes on my desk, along with two others. I use the CMS when someone poses a tricky SPaG question, or to settle differences of opinion.
However, the more interesting rules or guidelines are not as clear cut - guidelines on pacing, sentence complexity, narrative voice, point of view, and so on. No single source is adequate, in my opinion, and many of the guidelines are hotly debated on thios and other writing sites. You just have to accumulate that knowledge over time.
I obey the rules of grammar and spelling. Then I obey basic writing guidelines like no headhopping, sticking in one verb tense, tying up plot points, you know, just the basic things that tend to make a good story. Aside from that...I don't believe in strict "rules," just personal preferences. Since the issues above have become second nature to me, I don't have to "look out" for them for the most part, and that means I just let the words come as they will.
This is why I believe in adhering to rules like grammar and spelling and such in the rough draft of things--the more you follow them, the more ingrained they become, until you don't even have to think about them anymore. I don't write in drafts; I try to get it right the first time.
words of utter wisdom!
Separate names with a comma.