Breaking the Rules: A Guest Post by Lydia Kang

Hi everyone! (*waves*)

I’m so psyched to be guest blogging today. And I’m going to start with a pop quiz.

Don’t hate me, it’s an interesting one. 

Which of the following novel writing rules have you heard of?

  1. Don’t do a prologue.
  2. Don’t use any weird, fancy fonts. Ever.
  3. Don’t do any flashbacks in the first chapter.
  4. Don’t do any flashbacks in the first 50 pages.
  5. Don’t start your YA novel on the first day of highschool for a new student.
  6. Don’t start the novel with a dream sequence.
  7. Don’t start the novel with an action sequence involving the POV of a mean character, especially if he/she is killing someone in a tortuous, gruesome manner.
  8. Don’t make your novel too short.
  9. Don’t make your novel too long.
  10. Shun adverbs like the plague.
  11. Use perfect grammar.
  12. (I’d do more, but you get the picture.)

 The more we write, visit forums and writer blogs, the more rules we learn. Often, the rules are great. They’ve told me not to make some newbie mistakes that would have really made my MS craptastic.

 On the other hands, the rules aren’t hard and fast. Rules were meant to be broken, and sometimes the consequences are simply amazing.

 So here’s the second part of the quiz.

 What rules have you broken?

***

About my Guest Blogger:

 

Lydia Kang is an up-and-coming writer currently writing and querying her YA novel. When she isn’t writing, she is filling her time as a mom, wife, part-time doctor, daughter, and blogger. She can be found daily on her fabulous blog, THE WORLD IS MY OYSTER

18 thoughts on “Breaking the Rules: A Guest Post by Lydia Kang

  1. Hi Christine! Your new design looks awesome! Hi Lydia! I’ve broken a number of those rules in both my completed book and my WIP. I don’t know if what I do counts as a flashback, but in both my first chapters I have a remembrance of a past event. I also have been breaking that adverb rule for awhile quite deliberately. One rule I stick with is *don’t start your novel with a dream*. One thing I will say is that beginning and intermediate writers should follow as much rules as they can. It’s only the really accomplished (and most likely already published) ones who can get away with a lot of rule breaking.

  2. Great guest post, Lydia. I’ve heard of and broken most of these at one time or another. I guess I missed hearing about #7, but then again, so did romantic suspense writer Alison Brennan. LOL Most of her books start with an action sequence from the POV of a murderer. Needless to say, the suspense novel I’m most proud of writing starts as the villain of the book begins her killing spree. :evil grin:

  3. Oh, those rules!! (Hey Christine, your site looks great! Hi, Lydia!) The one I’m always hearing is how to NOT begin your story with someone waking up, or not to begin your YA with a fumbling heroine who’s having her Worst Day Ever (just broken up with her boyfriend, her best friend just moved away, she got fired from her job at the mall and then tripped and fell into the mall’s fountain, etc). Those, I generally agree with. Others, such as the prologue rule – I’m still out on that one. But I agree with Lisa’s comment: I do believe newbies should stick to the rules on their first foray out into the writing world. Another rule I believe in? You must read read read read to be a writer. Thanks for sharing this, guys!

  4. In some version or other (in some project or other) every single rule you’ve listed above and then some. I don’t think I could call myself a better writer now than when I first started if I hadn’t broken all those rules though!

    1. I’m all for the rules because they do make us better writers to know why they’re there. But I also enjoy breaking them. For instance, when I place an adverb in a sentence, I do so deliberately!😉

  5. Great post! 1, 2, and 10 are ones I’ve heard of. I think 2 is a really really good one. Curly fonts especially make my eyes hurt.

    I think I use adverbs. I’m not sure.

  6. Christine – love the new look of your blog!

    Lydia – that list is too funny🙂 I think I broke at least half of those rules and some others that you didn’t include with my first two novels. But thankfully I’m learning, every day!

  7. When it comes to art of any kind, I think rules are made to be broken. And when it comes to storytelling, I think you have to tell the story in the way that makes the most sense, within the abilities of the given writer.

  8. territiffany

    Oh dear. I hate breaking rules and have tried to follow all of them cause somewhere along my journey I’ve been told about each of them! I broke them all in my first book–now I’m on #5 and trying hard to not break more but I betcha I am!!LOL

  9. i had two main characters with names that began with the same letter. they both began with a “p” and though i knew it was incorrect and easier for the reader if i began one of their names with a different letter, i was just in love with both names. name of the main character was paul. last name of the antagonist was potscum. being love with the names isn’t a good reason, i admit, but when breaking rules, we should at least have a reason.

  10. I’ve broken most if not all of these rules. Some of them, I’ve fixed later, but others I think are okay. And when I look in the bookstores, plenty of authors (even first-time ones) break many of these rules. I guess it’s other factors that got them past the form rejection stage.

  11. Thanks for all the replies on my first guest blog post! I guess we all break rules, but in the end, it’s about finding what really works for each individual writer!

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