Once upon a time, I decided to write fiction. I consumed as many sources of craft advice (agent blogs, how-to-write books, author Twitter threads, etc.) as I could find. That advice often came in absolutes, as in, always write a certain genre in a certain tense, never start a story with a character waking up, and definitely don’t ever use -ly adverbs. No joke, I remember reading a blog post by a big-five author, and she said her agent only allowed her five adverbs per book. It didn’t sound logical to me, but she was published by a big-five, and she wasn’t the only established author touting this anti-adverb propaganda, which, as it happens, is all based on twenty-year-old, non-absolute advice written by Stephen King in On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.
Welp, I followed all that absolute advice and let me tell you, my writing got stiff as a result, and so I learned how to Google harder until I scrolled right past most of that advice given in absolutes and right to advice that explained how to judiciously use -ly adverbs, etc. And then a few years ago, I read the opening chapter from a guy who beat me out in an author mentorship competition, and he’d written the most captivating character-waking-up opening scene I’ve ever read.
Not all writing craft ‘rules’ have exceptions, but you won’t know which ones do and don’t until you Google harder.
This post is part of the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop. So many great blogs to keep hopping through. Click here to join the hop and to see what other writing tips you can glean from this month’s edition.
Are there any writing ‘rules’ you’d like to take a mallet to? Chat with me in the comments.