I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now. The main reason is that I keep coming across several writing rules that make little sense to me. Then, I came across a gem of a post by Constance Hale, “When Shakespeare Committed Word Crimes” on TED.
Constance confirmed what I long suspected: when there is tension in a language between what comes naturally and the rules, it’s because someone has tried to shoehorn the language into their idea of conformity.
Does this mean there are no rules? Not at all. It just means that the ones we are taught in workshops and classrooms are not necessarily the ones that matter to actual readers – as opposed to teachers, agents and editors. So, here are my golden rules; the ones no fiction writer should ever break, in my view:
Rule #1: Don’t let your writing get in the way of your story.
I know I say this all the time, but it bears repeating. Fragment your sentences. Break the rules. Hemingway is considered the “master of the short sentence,” but when his stories reach a climax, he will suddenly write long sentences—as long as three or four hundred words even. So, throw caution to your wind. Have fun with the language.