"Rules" of Writing

I have another entry up on contest junkies today! (I have a lot of stories, y'all.) I can't tell you the title, but I will just BET you'll knock off which one it is, just like Trish did. Contest Junkies

We’ve all heard the writing rules, the ones about POV, about the hero and heroine meeting right away. I’ve gotten involved in a critique group lately and there are apparently more rules I didn’t know about.

Consider this a public service announcement.

1) You can’t repeat words in a paragraph. Not even for style’s sake. It’s considered redundant.
2) Your characters can’t wonder or think to themselves, or God forbid, muse (Nora’s favorite word, BTW). It’s called “gawking.” (It has a name. I find that odd.)
3) Don’t use the word “eyes” unless describing the color. (As in, don’t use it in place of “gaze.”)
4) The hero and heroine shouldn’t have the same color eyes. (Really?)

Any more “rules” you’ve heard?

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Trish Milburn said...

Pardon me, but poo on those rules. I doubt the editors have heard of most of them. I think it's all in how you execute the writing.

Anonymous said...

I heard sooo many. My "favorite" rule is that the setting cannot be in Eastern Europe, or if the setting is in U.S. neither of the main characters should have Eastern European nationality.

Shesawriter said...


I hate rules, and I make every effort to break them whenever I can. However, one of my least favorites is no more than one POV per scene. Believe me, I'm a POV purist, but just the fact that someone tells me not to do it, makes me WANT to. ;-)

Tanya (a rebel with a cause)

Amie Stuart said...

I'm with Tanya on the rule breaking and I thought gawking was like, you know, rubbernecking, says she the queen of silent monologues.

Kelly (Lynn) Parra said...

Rules are EVIL!! LOL! I dislike that saying, "Write what you know." Bah! ;D

Anonymous said...

Mar, my characters think to themselves and yes, MUSE, when it works in the story! This is another reason why I jot down all comments made at group, but I don't rush home and make changes until a couple of days later. I let all the talk settle inside first...THEN I can feel which comments are right, and which ones are simply that person's individual taste in writing. As Nora shows us all the time, it's HOW you do it that counts, just as Trish said. Not that I come close to Nora in my work, but it's a valid point.

I do personally try to not use the same words in a paragraph, but that's one of my quirks.


Anonymous said...

Olga, I loved your comment about the Eastern European rule. My current book in progress will break that one! That is, unless all vampires have their ancestry in Kansas. :)


MJFredrick said...

Olga, :P on the Eastern European bit! I wrote a Croatian hero once (Goran Visnijc, anyone?) MMMM.

Tanya, I'm being BAD with POV in my WIP. I'm usually pretty pure, but I'm not even trying in this book.

Cece, LOL on "gawking." Guys, you know, I KNOW the woman that told me that will probably visit my blog today and hate me forever. But really, I had never heard it before, and wonder where that even came from!

Kelly, wouldn't books be dull if we wrote what we knew? Who wants to read about a Texas school teacher, I'm asking you? (Oh, you guys who visit my blog do ;) Or maybe you just come to see Gerry.)

JoAnn, let me see if I can find an example of repetitiveness that I use as a style tool. It just has a nice rhythm sometimes.

Anonymous said...

I think I tend to ignore the rules...rebel that I am! :) I rely on my gut feeling.

MJFredrick said...

Michelle, I try to rely on gut feeling, too, because I feel with all the reading I've done in my life, I have a pretty good idea of how to write. If I stopped and thought about rules, I'd never get anything written!

Unknown said...

I'm finding that knowing the rules are necessary but knowing when to break them is priceless!! In my just write it for fun book, that has been so much fun it's all I've been working on lately, I'm really not paying POV that much attention and it's working out soo great for me. I'm learning that having two POV's per scene is wonderful in getting deeper into emotion and how the scenes are coming out on paper.

Oh and on the redunant words . . . three's the charm. no more-no less.*g*

Anonymous said...

My "favorite" rule is that the setting cannot be in Eastern Europe, or if the setting is in U.S. neither of the main characters should have Eastern European nationality.

Really? That just seems so... weird! Makes me want to dive back into my paranormal chick lit with the Romanian hero. *g*

Amie Stuart said...

But really, I had never heard it before, and wonder where that even came from!

I could take a guess *VBEG*


Anonymous said...

Rules Shmules!

Anonymous said...

I had NO idea they couldn't have the same color eyes. I realize describing the same color MIGHT get monotonous, but not if you put a spin on it.

You know the authors. The MOST famous of the famous. They broke the rules.

Remember that ;)

Anonymous said...

Mar, I know about using repetition for effect...now that I have used in my work! But I catch myself using the same word in a paragraph at times, and when I do, I change it. I like using another word that says the same thing but has a bigger impact. I was proofreading my youngest's ms the other night, and I noted she used the word "sad" in relation to the main character twice in the same paragraph. I asked, "Is that really what you want to say? Is there another word that would say it even better?" She chose the word disconsolate. And the paragraph had more punch because of it. Sad AND disconsolate...poor guy. :) This is what I meant by my earlier statement today. Tell me if I am not making sense, I rarely do at one am! LOL

Love you,

MJFredrick said...

Teresa, don't you love having a "just for fun" book? It reminds me why I love writing. I like the rule of three, too.

I don't know if not having the same color eyes is a RULE, but it certainly upsets some people.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Trish. Poo on those rules. I think I've broken every single one of them. Especially #1.

I have always re-used words in a paragraph for styles sake (sparingly, of course), and I will continue to do so.


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