Mistake 6: Not Breaking Rules

Author:
Publish date:

70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer from The Writer's Digest Writing Kit

Why this is a mistake: It is a mistake to break a rule, and it’s not a mistake. You’re not the exception to the rule until you know the rule and have a reason to break the rule. Thus my three steps of rule breaking, which I’ll list in the solution. But first, why would you want to break a rule? Because, if you’re like everyone else, you’ll never stand out. If you’ve been trying to get published, in any format, sooner or later you’re going to run into the classic rejection of: “We want something like X, but not X.” Try to make something new from proven strategies and techniques. Put your own unique spin and stamp on things that have worked.

Image placeholder title

The solution: There are three steps to rule breaking. The first is learn the rules. If you break a rule because you don’t know it’s a rule, that’s simply called, putting it nicely, not being very smart. It means you haven’t bothered to do the basic homework of learning
the craft.

The second step is to have a very good reason for breaking the rule. Don’t just break the rule because you have nothing better to do. Look at the rules, study them. Then figure out why you would want to do things differently.

Third, and most important, accept the consequences of breaking the rule. If it works, great. But most likely, it won’t work. Then you have to pick up the pieces and start over again.

You have to eventually break rules to stand out from the crowd and be successful in the world of publishing. You have to be unique. If you examine the three steps, they are a career arc: learning the rules, which is learning the craft. Having a reason to break the rule, which is making
a decision as an artist. Accepting responsibility, which is making a career decision.

Shugri Said Salh: On Writing the Coming-Of-Age Story

Shugri Said Salh: On Writing the Coming-Of-Age Story

Debut author Shugri Said Salh discusses how wanting to know her mother lead her to writing her coming-of-age novel, The Last Nomad.

100 Ways to Buff Your Book

100 Ways to Buff Your Book

Does your manuscript need a little more definition, but you’re not sure where to begin? Try these 100 tips to give your words more power.

Kaia Alderson: On Internal Roadblocks and Not Giving Up

Kaia Alderson: On Internal Roadblocks and Not Giving Up

Kaia Alderson discusses how she never gave up on her story, how she worked through internal doubts, and how research lead her out of romance and into historical fiction.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Seven New Courses, Writing Prompts, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce seven new courses, our Editorial Calendar, and more!

Crystal Wilkinson: On The Vulnerability of Memoir Writing

Crystal Wilkinson: On The Vulnerability of Memoir Writing

Kentucky’s Poet Laureate Crystal Wilkinson discusses how each project has its own process and the difference between writing fiction and her new memoir, Perfect Black.

From Script

Approaching Comedy from a Personal Perspective and Tapping into Your Unique Writer’s Voice (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by ScriptMag.com, interviews with masters of comedy, screenwriter Tim Long ('The Simpsons') and writer-director Dan Mazer (Borat Subsequent Movie) about their collaboration on their film 'The Exchange', and filmmaker Trent O’Donnell on his new film 'Ride the Eagle' co-written with actor Jake Johnson ('New Girl'). Plus, tips on how to tap into your unique voice and more!

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Accepting Feedback on Your Writing

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Accepting Feedback on Your Writing

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is not accepting feedback on your writing.

Writer's Digest Best Creativity Websites 2021

Writer's Digest Best Creativity Websites 2021

Here are the top creativity websites as identified in the 23rd Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2021 issue of Writer's Digest.

Poetic Forms

Englyn Proest Dalgron: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the englyn proest dalgron, a Welsh quatrain form.