Thursday, April 21, 2011
How to Know when to Break the Rules
Secondly, we have to be sure to break a rule for the right reason. If we break it out of ignorance, laziness, or the elusive search for cool, then we should think again. There’s no point breaking a rule for the sake of it, or because it’s all the rage. There has to be a valid reason. Below I’ve listed a few possible reasons to break the rules:
The writing rules of grammar and punctuation are put into place to clarify meaning. Without them sentences often become ambiguous. For example: ‘Let’s eat Dezmond.’ Without a comma before Dezmond, that sentence means we want to eat the poor guy. Of course, if we gain more clarity by breaking a rule, then we can break it.
A broken rule will often stand out in text and emphasise a point we might want to make. Be careful, however. Overuse of broken rules will quickly lose any impact we hoped to achieve.
For the Rhythm
For the sake of the music of our prose, it’s good to break a few rules. For example: A series of fractured sentences create a clipped, sharp rhythm which can add a certain agitated vibe to the prose.
For the Art
When I worked in a bookshop I had so many returns on one particular book because the readers misunderstood the artistic opening. The book started after twelve blank pages and, on the thirteenth, the first word was a lower case ‘and’. People thought the book had been misprinted. The author took a risk. Personally I thought it was genius.
Which rules do you like to break? Which rules do you break too often?
Note: This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. To learn more about the challenge click the image on my sidebar.
Reminder: I’ve entered my blog into the People’s Choice Award as part of the Sydney Writers’ Centre Best Australian Blogs Award 2011. If you haven’t already, please vote for my blog here. It is listed under W.I.P It: A Writer’s Journey -- Lynda Young.