Oh, those pesky rules of writing…

Forgive me, while I ramble into the main topic.  It all connects…cm

I like to call myself a freethinker and I do try to keep up with new things, but the truth is that I’m just a country girl, leaning past conservative views into the right-wing. It seems the world has run amok and a little (perhaps, a lot) more control is needed.  Freedom takes a backseat to chaos, I guess.  As time passes one grows weary of the same crimes being committee over and over—never mind that the names of the perpetrators are new.

I watched a show on TV last night about Game Wardens. The show is called Wild Justice and it’s on National Geographic Channel.   One of the officers made this riveting statement:  If it wasn’t for Game Wardens, the hunters would decimate the animal population. I never thought of it that way before, but I know that it’s true.  Remember all those buffalo hunters of the Wild West?  As the human population increases, there will be more government rule and less personal liberty in all aspects of our lives.  Sad, but undeniable.

WRITING: I’ve held hard views about writing for a long time, too.  One must follow the rules or tumble off the cliff into the yawning mouth of the giant and slimy Slush Pile.  There should be no sympathy for those who will not take the straight and narrow.  Yet, I read a blog today that softened my opinion.  Actually I read two blogs.  One blog, About.com, seemed to offer for free anything that one might want to know about writing, under Richard Nordquist’s leadership.  (see my Blogroll)  But as I clicked around the enormous site, I thought, ‘It could take eons to wade over all this information.’ So I abandoned the effort to read all of it and signed up for the Newsletter, letting the info-rama trickle in to me, so to speak.  Perhaps, I’ll even haunt the Forum a bit; although, as a hardliner with very little patience for polite and fluffy talk, I do tend to get into trouble on forums.  (chuckle)

The other blog that I surfed questioned the need for rules in writing, laying up that old argument about creativity verses academia, and it made me recall my own resistance when I first started studying the art of writing—which I still study and, I might add, it is the only thing that I hope never to finish.

The first thing that I want to say about the rules of writing is this:  Academia did not invent the rules of writing. The rules of writing came into existence by writers competing with each other—who knows how long ago—and the winners were the ones favored by the listeners of these tales, because surely there were good story tellers and bad story tellers, even before writing was invented.

After this mass sorting of the good, the bad and the ugly and a whole lot of tomato throwing, a system was set in place to study how these winners fashioned their words into consistent, easy to grasp and, hopefully, entertaining prose.  So really, one might say that readers, not educational institutions and stuffy professors, set the standards by which the written word is judged—an ancient benchmark of How To.  And what is a writer without readers, except a lobo howling at a deaf moon?

The second thing that I want to say about the rules is this:  At first the rules of writing seem like really hard concepts, but once you understand them, you will be slapping your hand against your forehead.  “But of course,” you will say.  “It’s really quite simple, logical, and the best way to do it.”

Author’s Note: And that’s the longest bit of nonfiction that I’ve written since the newspaper signed by paychecks.


3 thoughts on “Oh, those pesky rules of writing…

  1. Totally love your dip back into our past to justify the “rules” of writing but I fear those pesky ol’ academicians have got their fingers into the pie…

    I won’t burden this comment with anything as justifiable as proof but there are “rules” and “guidelines”.

    I feel the nearly ancient guidelines, gleaned from readers accepting good storytelling, are, generally right.

    And, even though writing and language evolve, it’s cyclic and we’re in a devolutionary phase. Example: “Write what readers want to read.”, is a guideline. But…

    Most readers today are so stunned by a civilization that’s choking on materialism they only want stripped-down, neutered stuff to read.

    Still in all, I have hope for humanity, though it will have to fall a bit further before it truly learns its lessons.

  2. As always, your thoughts give me pause.

    Yes, I agree. The vast majority of people scooting around the Net are fast thinkers, technically proficient and highly specialized. They prefer their reading in bite size blips. Hence the advice, ‘know your audience.’

    I know that you are not writing your novel with these people in mind. There are deep thinkers out there, who desire more than a bit of flash fiction. The problem then becomes how to lure the right people.

    ‘Write what people want to read’ is a COMMERCIAL guideline that I can not give much credence to, except for the purpose of making money.

    • Let’s see…


      “Write what you feel has total integrity then promote so folks are educated to why they should read your work.”

      Kinda long but it’s the rule I’m using and, even if the people I promote to resist my plea, I’m still left with my integrity 🙂

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