Thursday, June 02, 2011

Back on the Blog Chain: Breaking the Rules

I'll continue posting notes from my WisCon panels next week, since today I'm participating in the blog chain. For this round, Abby wants to find out how rebellious we are.

There are SO many writing rules, but sometimes we have to break one or two, just to keep things interesting. Is there a writing rule you've broken on purpose? Why did you choose to break it? And if you want to post a snippet of your writing as an example, even better!

Although I'm very picky about grammar, even I break the rules occasionally. One rule that I've broken on purpose is the rule against sentence fragments. I've done so as a way of emphasizing items and to increase tension. Here's an example where I wrote a paragraph of fragments. It's taken from my Beatles fanfiction story "The Movement You Need." In this story, Paul has found a strange guitar in his bed and is searching his hotel room, trying to figure out how it got there:

Paul doubled up the belt in his left hand. He glanced around, but there was no place to hide in the room except for the closet. Silently, he padded over to the closet door and raised his belt. He yanked the closet door open –

Shirts and slacks, neatly hung on the hangers provided by the hotel. His suitcase on the luggage rack, lid open. A couple pairs of non-leather shoes on the floor. Nothing else.

I hope you liked the example. If you'd like to meet more writing rebels, check out Kat's post yesterday and Kate's tomorrow.

P.S. Something I should have said earlier is that before you can break the rules successfully, you first have to understand and master them. If you break the rule repeatedly out of ignorance, then readers can spot that. However, if you follow the rule 99.9% of the time and then break it at a strategic spot, then it has more impact.


Rogue Mutt said...

There really aren't many "rules;" they're more like guidelines to follow. I don't know why most people haven't wised up to this yet. Any "rule" an agent/editor blog talks about has probably been broken successfully dozens of times.

So really, cut it out already.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

Rogue, I agree with you in that the rules can be successfully broken. However, (and I should have put this in the original post) it's important to understand the purpose behind the rule before you break it.

We're all at different stages on the writing path here, and what's old hat to one writer may be new to someone else. It's important to be courteous to other writers when they ask questions. If you don't like the topic, you don't have to participate. ;)

Abby Annis said...

That's a good one, Sandra! I like to break that one sometimes too.

And I agree with you. It's definitely important to understand a rule before you can break it successfully. Great post!

Carolyn V said...

I use the fragmented sentences too, but you're right, they have to be done correctly. (Let's hope mine are done the right way *blush*) =)

Michelle McLean said...

I'm also a sentence fragment user :D And I totally agree both that you need to understand the reasoning behind the rule if you want to break it successfully, and that breaking these rules should be done sparingly if you want them too make an impact.

The Golden Eagle said...

I use sentence fragments sometimes, too. They can be useful! And I agree that you have to understand the rules before you can break them effectively; otherwise it just come out like a mistake.

Great post!

E.J. Wesley said...

I think you're right on about the rules, Sandra! If you don't break a few here and there, you'll only be covering the same ground.

I really stopped by to say 'thank you' for your support during my A-Z blogging month. I've created a fun "no strings attached" blog award for you and all of the other awesome bloggers who offered feedback and encouragement.

You can view the award and my thank you note here:

Hope you are well and that I see you around in the future!


Sarah McCabe said...

I don't believe there are any rules for storytelling. There are rules of language which, for the most part, should be followed. Though of course as you've shown even grammar rules can be broken for certain reasons.

Also, Beatles fanfic? Awesome.

Liz said...

You can always tell when someone uses a sentence fragment deliberately as opposed to accidentally. In the first case it makes sense in the context of what's being written. In the second, it just sounds wrong.

I was so happy when I finished school and could write sentence fragments when I wanted to. It felt to freeing.

Christine Fonseca said...

Ah yes, rules. I loved your response to this topic. NICE

Eric said...

Great response, Sandra. I don't see anything wrong with your excerpt, so that must mean you did a good enough job that it doesn't matter what rules you have broken :)

Michelle H. said...

I love sentence fragments. Nothing like that little jog to catch that reader's attention.

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