Talk Back: Do You Ever Break Writing Rules?

March 10, 2012

By Marie-Claude Bourque

Hi writers and friends,

I hope you are all busy writing, revising, submitting, signing contracts and enjoying book tours and writers conferences.

I apologize for having been away so much. I am almost finished with my Masters in Teaching and have spent the few spare time I have polishing my pile of manuscripts to be able to start submitting material this summer.

I had an interesting conversation recently with a Facebook writer friend who told me he loved how I wrote my love scenes. He pointed that he was surprised that I had chosen to break the “one POV per scene” rule just for my love scenes and he wondered whether I did this by accident or if it was a conscious choice.

It was a conscious choice.

I do break rules.

Not too many, because as a beginning writer, I tend to stay within safe boundaries, but in this occasion, I decided that showing both my hero and heroine POV while they were intimate would be the best way to keep the reader deep in the story.

How about you? Do you break rules? I will frankly tell you that I actually don’t know all the rules. I may break them at times without knowing. Do you do that too? Or are all your rule breaking deliberate? Any examples you could share with us?

I’m dying to hear how you Musetrackers think about your craft.

Much love,
Marie-Claude xoxox


How To Write Good

December 7, 2011

Song of the Day: Hey Man, Nice Shot by Filter

How to Write Good

By Frank L. Visco

My several years in the word game have learnt me several rules:

  1. Avoid Alliteration. Always.
  2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
  3. Avoid clichés like the plague. (They’re old hat.)
  4. Employ the vernacular.
  5. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
  6. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
  7. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
  8. Contractions aren’t necessary.
  9. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
  10. One should never generalize.
  11. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
  12. Comparisons are as bad as clichés.
  13. Don’t be redundant, don’t use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
  14. Profanity sucks.
  15. Be more or less specific.
  16. Understatement is always best.
  17. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
  18. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
  19. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
  20. The passive voice is to be avoided.
  21. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
  22. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
  23. Who needs rhetorical questions?


Okay, show of hands. Who read through this list and realized they were guilty of one, two, or all of these infractions? Come on, I know I’m not the only one. Although this is a tongue in cheek (cliché!) list, there is a lesson here. (Parenthetical remark! One-word sentence! Egads, does it ever end? Oops, profanity & a rhetorical question.) Rules are meant to be broken. Well, maybe not always. Spending 24 hours in the city jail may have you rethinking that philosophy. However, when used appropriately a writer can break, bend, stretch, and reshape these rules and the many other “unwritten” rules and still write a powerful, effective, emotional piece of fiction. The key is to know the rules and understand why they are not to be tampered with. (Preposition.) Once you master them, then you will know how to effectually shatter them for your own gains.

I want to thank a special friend, William Simon for sending this to me. Gracias!

So, which of these crimes are you guilty of committing? Let me hear from you.