Friday, February 3, 2017

Writer's $ense: Breaking the Rules

Cover ImageBill Mesce, Jr's article* "What Do You Mean You Can't Do It?" brought me to this blank page to write this blog.  Mesce's writing career spans more than twenty some years. His article addresses the use of "show, don't tell." His premise speaks to the need to "tell."

Mr. Mesce defends an author's right to choose his words, phrases, punctuation, and sometimes sentence structure to move the plot. A storyteller reveals characters, settings, and emotions with words to  take the reader deeper into a story. Examples from classic and current literature and movies explain how "telling" enhances the reader's or viewer's experience.

Rules guide a writer through the writing process. Style guides metaphorically act as a manual for new scribes. Grammar rules, punctuation, stylistic preferences of publishers are like the rules of the road. Following the rules keeps the driver safe. Writing rules present the author with a platform to begin a creative process.

Just like a good driver knows when to change lanes when anticipating trouble on the road. A creative writer adjusts his or her writing to hook the reader, to maintain emotional connections, and conclude with certainty. A driver makes a quick decision to safety. A writer breaks a rule for effect.

Now, (this is for my Critique Group) I'm not throwing out all the rules. I concede "breaking a writing rule" works only if it enhances the story. As my editor told me, "It's your story."

  
*Mesce, Jr., Bill, "What Do You Mean You Can't Do It?", The Writer's Chronicle. December, 2016
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