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Rules or No Rules

Monday through Friday I deal with different subjects in this blog. I also post my blog to my Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld. Today I am writing about Rules or No Rules.
You’ve heard all: Rules are made to be broken; You must never do this or that; and Absolutely not! Rules tend to govern our lives, some being good, some not so good. But the rules of writing, must we follow them? Or can we just do whatever?
One thought before digging in here, the purpose of rules are to provide a guide for you, the writer, to follow. Rules are meant for your good.
What are the Rules of Writing?
Actually there are a ton of rules, but I’m only going to look at a few. It’s not so much the rule that is at stake here but a point that I’m trying to make. In doing research on this subject I came across a book in my library that had a section on Kurt Vonnegut, who was a giant in the industry. He had some opinions about rules worthy of taking a look at.
Here are a couple of quotes: “Can I get away with this? No. The trick is getting the reader to buy it.” Another quote is, “whatever works, works.”
Now let’s take a look at a few rules:

  1. Always identify who is talking – Unless, of course, the context makes it obvious.
  2. Use italics when a person is thinking – Unless, of course, you prefer using another method.
  3. Separate speech from the action – Unless, of course, you decide to combine them.
  4. Only have one primary character – Unless, of course, you can get away with having more.
  5. Give readers as much information as soon as you can.
  6. Weave historical data, if any, into fictional content.

Those last two weren’t really rules, but rather suggestions from Vonnegut. But you might consider them as rules you should follow.
Now look back at the rules, you’ll notice I followed the first four rules with an “Unless” which indicated you could break the rule. Now take a sheet of paper and make two columns. On the left side the column will list rules, and on the right side you’ll put the word “Unless” at the beginning of the column.
Now, using the left column, make a list of the writing rules you know about. Just the ones that might affect you. Now go back to the top and read the rule on the left and then consider whether there are times you break the rule and why. If it’s a valid why, place the why in the right column. Theoretically that will provide a scenario where you have possible points where you can violate the rule. I said theoretically because you might be wrong.
To find out whether you’re right or wrong you might try searching on Google or some other search engine. A lot of times you’ll find the answer. another resource is to look at what famous and successful authors have done.
Neither of those methods can be considered absolutely correct, but there’s a good chance they are. In the end, you must decided the right or wrong.
ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four) or Death Ship to the Stars I value your reviews.
If you would like to review any of these books contact me at with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or ePub).

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

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