This gets me into trouble sometimes. Anyway, I try not to be illegal these days, but I still have a natural aversion to being told what to do. And when you are a writer – a writer who wants to say stuff – there are all sorts of quietly agreed rules floating around. Here are some rules that one can use to break the writing rules. All these rules are very important. I am starting to ignore:
1. DON’T USE CLICHES.
An admirable rule, surely? Well yes, perhaps, but a cliche is sometimes a cliche for good reason. A cliche is often a universal truth. That is why people like it. And people often speak in cliches, so what then? Surely to write honest dialogue you are going to have to use cliches? The aim, I suppose, is to come up with new cliches.
2.DON’T WRITE UNDER THE INFLUENCE.
Michael Chabon: ‘All novels are sequels; ignorance is bliss’. I have also seen many a tweet from authors who have done this, and ended up with something awesome.
3. LINEAR IS UNCOOL.
Maybe in the twentieth century it was saying something when you smashed a narrative into pieces and quoted Godard’s line about how it was good to have a beginning, middle and end but not necessarily in that order. But the thing is, I think there is nothing cooler and more wonderful than a story, and a story that feels like a story. So here’s to beginnings, middles and endings in the right places.
4. IT MUST BE DIFFICULT.
No-one admits this rule. Maybe I have imagined it. But I think there is a distrust of books that are easy-to-read. A belief that they should shut people out, because most people don’t know what is good for them. This is snobbery. I ignore this, and try and write with open arms. The aim for me is never to take a short cut.
5. NEVER OPEN A BOOK WITH WEATHER.
I mean this is self explanatory BUT there is a way to break it. Provided it's creating a reaction from the Character it'a okay, provided it doesn't span paragraphs. One sentence is fine.
6. YOU HAVE THREE MONTHS.
A full time worker, trying to be an author on the side, may need longer than three months. What you're are creating is a work of art and it needs to be treated as such. Even though I marvel and my writer friends, who CAN do this. I personally, cannot. Work is too evil and takes up too much time.
7. ADVERBS ARE EVIL.
They can be, but some adverbs sound wonderful. Sporadically. Unquestionably. Woefully. No words should be put in a ghetto. Language is a smorgasbord.
8. WRITERS SHOULDN’T SELF-PROMOTE.
IGNORE THIS ADVICE AND PROMOTE ALL THE HELL YOU WANT. Got a book out? Stick it in the comments and I'll try my best to pick it up!
Are there any other rules you tend to break? Let me know in the comments below!