Breaking Rules – 5 Tips to Breaking Writing Rules The Right Way

Rules get broken every day. If you don’t believe that just drive a few miles. There are some seriously out of line drivers out there.

First you have your 30 mile an hour crawler on the freeway and the nut who goes 90 miles an hour during rush hour. Don’t forget the truck with a massive piece of lumber sticking out the back end with no flag. Ever got behind a tractor going a whopping five miles on a paved road?

Don’t forget road rage, blind spots and the ever present nightmare passer giving you only a split second to hit your breaks or cause a twenty car pile up.

People just love to break rules. Still don’t believe me? Watch people try to break through the display wrapping on black Friday and shove something in their cart before the scheduled start time. Or the lurkers parked in the fire hazard zone waiting for their shopper to come out.

Breaking rules comes naturally, but you can’t give in to every rule breaking urge you have or  you better have a great affinity for prison orange.

Do you like to break the writing rules?

There are times when breaking the rules is alright. For example, there was a young boy during hurricane Katrina that commandeered a school bus to rescue victims and transport them to safety. Did he break the rules? Yes, but during an emergency situation that saved several lives and most would agree it was the right time to break the rules.

There is a right way and a wrong way to break the writing rules. Sometimes in our stubbornness as writers we just want to do something the way we feel is best. It’s not always wrong to break the rules, but it should be done only when it is the right time.

5 Tips to Breaking Writing Rules The Right Way:

1. Know the Rules. You need to know the rules before choosing to break them. If you just want to break the rules because you like it that way, but are an inexperienced writer you should take the time first to understand the rules. If not, you will just look like a rookie.

2. Understand Why The Rule You Are Breaking Exists. Writing rules are there for a reason. If you don’t know why a rule exists, breaking it could be detrimental to your work.

3. Make a Conscious Decision When You Are Breaking The Rules.  Rule breaking should be purposeful. If you don’t know that you are breaking a rule, how can you know if you are strengthening your manuscript?

4. Know Why You Are Breaking The Rules. Evaluate your reasons and make sure they are for the furthering of your manuscript and not just a desire to hold on to your own opinions. Ask yourself if this broken rule will make your manuscript stronger.

5. Use Rule Breaking Sparingly. Think of rules as three pieces of gold. You can’t spend them all in one place or flaunt them in bulk. You should save them to spend at the most meaningful moments when it strengthens your work.

What other tips do you have about breaking the rules in life or writing?


About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

8 thoughts on “Breaking Rules – 5 Tips to Breaking Writing Rules The Right Way

  1. Great post, Michelle. Just a thought…can you imagine Mick Jagger singing, “I can’t get any satisfaction…”

  2. Melissa Tagg says:

    Awesome stuff, Michelle, as always. I so agree with you that we need to know and understand rules before breaking them…and that we need to know why we’re breaking them when we do. Otherwise, we’re just putting ignorance on display…or breaking rules for the sake of breaking rules…which is a sign of pointless rebellion more than writing talent, and what agent/editor is looking for that?

    I think another good point is to get good advice…when we know we’re breaking a common writing rule, having a critique partner or trusted writer-friend take a look and give a thumbs-up can definitely be good.

    I always love your posts…and your witty intros!

  3. Great post, Michelle! Some of us just LOVE breaking rules and need the Caution light flashing at all times. Thanks for the reminder to think before we decide to jay-walk! :<)

  4. Beth K. Vogt says:

    Love your 5 rules, Michelle!

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