Time to Break the Rules of Writing

I hate rules, and the rules of writing are no exception. Actually, I need to explain that. My husband would tell you I love rules. I do, when I want someone else to follow them. Like on the highway.

I don’t like rules when I have to follow them, when I think there is a justifiable reason to break them. I want the freedom to be able to break them when I see fit.

Which brings me back to the rules of writing. One I loathe is “show, don’t tell.” Maybe my abhorrence comes from how I struggled with this in the only college writing class I took.

My problem isn’t that I disagree with the thinking behind “show, don’t tell.” It is usually better to show rather than tell. I’ve read several books which would have been vastly improved by a bit more showing.

But I’ve read others in which the showing was contrived and stilted. Rather than help me create a mental image, I got bogged down in thinking how artificial the dialogue sounded.

With great delight I read this blog post, as it confirmed what I had been thinking. The rules of writing can be broken, with great care and forethought. They are there to force better writing and avoid lazy writing. When the rules are broken in the right places for the right reasons, good writing can become even better.

Can you share any example of rule breaking that’s great writing?

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