I did it again.
I read a romance novel published in 1987 by a bestselling author. And boy did she break the rules. Especially with POV. (No, it's not Nora Roberts, lol). The heroine described herself in ways that were obviously the writer's words. And of course, there was backstory.
Then I was annoyed by how often the heroine's violet eyes widened in innocence and how she was so petite and perfect. LOL, but that's just jealousy, seeing as I'm a tall woman.
So who came up with the rules? Or the "guidelines"? They certainly didn't play in the eighties. But here' s the kicker.
I read this 400 page, small print book in less than twelve hours.
Agents and editors say this all the time. Or maybe it was Mrs. Snark. Good writing trumps all.
This lady isn't a bestseller for no reason. (Is that a double negative? Whoops.) I was completely hooked by this story. It was wonderful, romantic, if a bit cliche, seeing as it's twenty years old. But even the cliche parts didn't stop me from devouring the story.
The lesson here is that writing "rules" can only do so much. And most readers aren't even aware of any rules. They just help your story be more coherent and structured.
But in the end, a compelling story with gut-wrenching writing is what will snag a reader and hook them.