When I have spoken at writing conferences on bogus writing “rules” I get people coming up and emotionally thanking me for telling them they don’t have to curtail their expression because somebody told them it’s “wrong” to use adverbs or alternatives to “said” or “was” or passive voice or multiple POV or whatever.
Not all that surprising, since most of my talks and articles on that come from people suffering on the internet and my wonderful compassion in trying to help them.
Here is a series of articles on the subject of not letting fake rules rule your writing, done for Indies Unlimited. Let me say a word about IU… it’s a highly respected site by and for writers who actually write and publish books, not magazine scribblers, teachers, and “coaches”. The comments are as worthwhile as the articles and I richly suggest following it to improve your writing and publishing. IU isn’t just one more blog, and it’s not an over-rated thing like Writers Digest where magazine hags pretend to be experts on novels and publishing. Bookworks listed it in their top 15 Blogs for Indie Authors. Publisher’s Weekly listed it in their top 6 Great Blogs for Indie Authors. Choosy Bookworm listed it as #1 in sites for learning and connecting on their list of the top 40 Resources for Writing and Marketing Books. That’s just the top of the sundae, too, as you can see on their “brag page“.
But enough about them, this is all about me. No wait, it’s all about you… getting henpecked because you “head-hopped” or used contractions or whatever nitwit “rules” somebody is hammering on you for. When all you really have to do is ignore them or tell them to bugger off. Enjoy. And just use the rules that approve of yourself.
A secondary question is: why do people cook up rules that aren’t real… and pass them on in groups? Complex question, but one major answer is that teachers (and bloggers wanting clicks, etc.) have a hard time coming up with things they can tell you that you can do to make your writing better. There just isn’t that much that can be told. So they end up telling you what you “can’t” do, which is easier to dream up. So we hear how we can’t do this, we can’t use that. It’s nuts, really; if you tried telling a musician not to use certain notes or certain “bad” or “weak” or “lazy” chords they’d boot you out. Tell an artist to avoid certain hues or tones and you’d get paint on your face. But with writers, it’s an ongoing litany of invented attempts to limit your use of the language. I am not saying you should kick the butts or people who tell you this stuff… but I would understand.