Principles, Not Rules! - Writer's Digest

Principles, Not Rules!

Publish date:

Remember the movie Adaptation? (Second mention of that movie in a week! I know!) There is a scene where two brothers are sitting around, talking about the craft and business of screenwriting. One brother is discussing screenwriting workshops he recently attended and singing their praises. The other brother warns against workshops and instructors, saying that anyone who says they possess all the rules of writing is lying, because "there are no rules."
The first brother counters, "Not rules, Charles. Principles. A rules says 'you must do it this way.' A principle says 'this way works, and has worked since the beginning of time.'"

Well that's what you have to keep in mind when reading my blog or others like mine. I, for one, speak in terms of principles, not rules. The thing is: Since there truly are no rules of writing, you can probably find a contradicting opinion to a lot of writing instruction, mine or others. You can't get every agent to agree on anything.

At past writers' conferences, I've heard agents say things such as:

1. "Oh, I will open unsolicited e-mail attachments."
Sending them is generally a big no-no.

And the mind-blowing:

2. "I wouldn't say you have to have the whole novel finished before querying."
Are you kidding? Can't we agree on anything???

Agents all have their little weird quirks that go against general principle. Some wants things this way. Others like to see this and that. You just have to look for these weird quirks in their submission instructions.
I am not an agent. I don't factor in a single agent's strange likes and weird quirks. I speak to you from having interviewed and met many, many agents and hearing their general advice and instructions for submitting. Just keep that in mind...

Image placeholder title

"Wow them in the end, and you've got a hit."