Who's The Boss?

Regarding the rules I mentioned in a previous blog, I've been wondering--who said so? I mean, did some editor say this is how great books should be written? Or did the rules come about through authors? Or did readers make the rules by buying more from authors who wrote certain ways?
Pick up a romance from twenty years ago and it'll be way different than how we're told to write now. I'm not knocking the rules. They're great. As long as you remember that they're more of guidelines. Following them to the letter does NOT guarantee publication.
Sometimes I see unpublished writers fretting over these "rules", afraid they're not following them exactly.
Who can we blame for this . . . stress, I wonder. :-)
I guess us, the readers. Through demand we've given success to writers who tell stories with words in a certain way. A great way, really.
Adverbs combined with said DO pull me out of a story. Unclear head-hopping totally confuses me.
So I stumbled across Tina Russo's website the other day. It has some great articles, including
Elmore Leonard's rules for writing.
He pretty much says it all.
What do you think? Are rules made to be broken? And have you ever thrown them out the proverbial window in favor of creative expression?


Sarah said…
This might make it hard for me to ever get published, but I do believe rules were made to be broken. Who wants to read the same formulaic novel over and over again? Not me.

I think that the rules are great, and helpful, but I wouldn't necessarily follow them because somebody said I should. Sooner or later readers will get tired of these books, and the rules will change again. As for me, I may not "break" the rules, but I certainly will bend them a little.
Hi Jessica -

Thanks for the links. Tina is such fun.

Elmore got me with the "no weather" rule. Sigh.

Susan :)
Anonymous said…
What lovely ladies you are. I had a positively downtrodden day and you all made me feel better.

Jessica Nelson said…
Hi Sarah,
yep, I like to bend the rules too. But it has to be done in such a way that it's actually better. That's the challenging part, lol.
Jessica Nelson said…
LOL, Susan.
I broke some of his rules too. You know, I've heard so much about him but never read his books. I guess I'll have to pick one up.
I don't know Tina personally but she's on the Seeker blog all the time and seems great!
Thanks for stopping by Susan.
Jessica Nelson said…
Hey Tina,
I hope today is much better for you :-)
If it helps, I absolutely love your website. It's easy to navigate but really cute and very writerly :-)
Karen Hossink said…
The thing I have always heard about rules is that authors are "allowed" to break them.
Some, I won't break. Like, never end a sentence with a preposition.
But I will start a sentence with but, because, or and. Sometimes it just flows better.
Personally, I think your subject and writing style are the things that should dictate the extent to which you follow the rules. Is it formal or casual? IMO.
Jessica Nelson said…
Hi Karen,
Totally agree with your thoughts.
Except the preposition thing. LOL, you lost me there :-)

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