A to Z Challenge 2013

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Blog Chain - Breaking The Rules


I received the invitation to be part of a blog chain (which I am really excited about), and today is my turn to put in my two cents. I am following Sandra, and Kat will be following me to finish up this particular topic.

So the question posed is this:

What writing rules/advice - whether it was a matter of cannot or will not - have you broken?

As I walk along (sometimes stumbling along) this journey in writing, I've probably broken too many rules to mention. In my defense however, the only time I learned writing rules was back in high school, and who paid attention back then? Certainly not me (heh heh, that one was on purpose).

There are a couple noteworthy rules I continue to struggle with however, and despite the fact that I know what they are, I still have difficulty from time to time. The rule about adverbs and 'ly' is one that plagues me all the time. I'll be writing along, the words flowing out without any problems, and then I realize I just threw in two or three dang adverbs. Trying to remember not to use them interrupts my muse's flow, so sometimes I'll just let them out to play for a moment and clean them up later.


I also struggle with showing instead of telling, although I think I'm getting better at this. For some reason, this makes alot of sense to me (now that I'm aware I do it), and for the most part I think I can spot the mistakes easier or avoid them before they get committed to the page. When I start hearing the narrator's voice coming through instead of the character's, I know it's time to change things up. The word narrator is vague and general, whereas the name of the character (whatever it may be) is specific. So I tell myself that when a narrator is talking, I've pulled the reader outside of the story. If I make sure the character is telling the story through their actions and dialogue, I'm no longer "telling" the story.

I truly am a bitter taskmaster when it comes to the Oxford comma rule (and thanks Sandra for letting me know what the name of the rule is). This rule is where you make sure a comma precedes "and" when you're listing out things, such as:

The baker sold cakes, pies, and other sugary delights.

I edit articles for brighthub.com, and it bugs me to no end when a writer submits something that fails this rule. I literally cannot continue until I fix every missing comma. Another rule (I honestly don't know if it's just my rule or a 'legal' rule) is the use of "however" at the beginning of a sentence. I can't start sentences with because, so, or however, no matter how much I try. I also cannot ignore it when writers I edit do this. It just bugs me. Feel free to tell me the rules regarding these particular words, because I don't know if I'm breaking a rule or adhering to a rule. I just know I am incapable of using them at the beginning of a sentence, unless I want to cringe every time I read that particular sentence.

I probably break more rules all the time, since I'm fairly uneducated as to writing rules, but I'm working on it. Rather than continue my soapbox, I'll hand off the baton to Kat now to finish this topic up. And thanks to all the blog-chainers for including me in the fun. Oh, and if my font here looks weird (switching back and forth) you can thank blogspot for it. The dang thing just didn't want to work very well for me this morning. Le sigh...



15 comments:

Michelle McLean said...

Yep, I'm a big adverb and show vs tell rule breaker :D And you would hate editing for me because I LOVE starting sentences with words like "And" (obviously), However, and even, once in a while, Because :D

Welcome to the chain! Great first post :)

B.J. Anderson said...

Great post and I think we all like our adverbs and "ly" words. :D

Jenna said...

Congrats on joining the blog chain! :D

I break rules all the time. My attitude is that if breaking the rule makes the book better, I'm breaking the dang rule. Although I try not to unless it can be used to some sort of effect.

Mandy said...

I'm a huge adverb user! And though I'm getting better, my telling used to far outweigh my showing!

Sandra Almazan said...

If you sweat over getting every sentence right on the first draft (as I tend to do), your writing pace will be glacial. It might be easier to ignore the adverbs on your first draft and edit them out later. Don't let the rules inhibit your muse! Of course, this is easier said than done.

christine said...

Great first post Eric - I am so glad to have you join us. I have to agree with Sandra's comment - "don't let the rules inhibit your muse." and remember that this is a process.

Great job!

Michelle H. said...

This is a great post! I never heard of a blog chain before. As for breaking rules, sometimes, they are meant to be broken - at least in the beginning. That's what revisions are for... to clean up the pages.

Hey, stop by my place for your award!

Sarah Bromley said...

Great first post and welcome to the blog chain! I am a comma stickler, too.

Cole Gibsen said...

You would hate me - lol :) Commas are my kryptonite. Welcome to the chain!!!

Annie Louden said...

Nice first post, Eric. It's okay to start sentences with "because," "however," and "so," but we are all allowed our pet peeves. Besides, the way you prefer to write sentences gives you your voice.

Lost Wanderer said...

for once an award from me to you on my blog

Rebecca Knight said...

Great post, Eric! I love the point about the narrator talking--I'll have to remember that!

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Oooh, I have to admit I am terrible with comma placement, if it wasn't for my wonderful critters my writing would be barely readable.

Great first post and welcome to the chain!

kat said...

Your pet peeve is the absent comma. Mine is the absent hyphen in modifiers. We've all got our little things.

Great post! Welcome to the chain!

Shaun Hutchinson said...

Showing instead of telling is a tough one. Great post here :)