Every single time I write about there being NO writing “rules”, yet more writers come rushing out the woodwork with counter-arguments on why there ARE.
Look, I understand. When someone says you can do WHATEVER YOU WANT, it can feel weird and scary.
Human beings are pack animals, so it makes sense to stay with the crowd doing what is considered “common sense” rather than forging out on your own and doing your own thing.
BUT YOU MUST! Here’s why:
1) A great-looking page does NOT = great craft
YES, grammar and punctuation and spelling are all important. Yes, good format is essential. This is because we gotta “reader proof” our work against the interns and work experience kids who obsess on that stuff. So your writing might look GREAT on the page and yes, that is a good start. But it is not everything. It can’t be!! MORE: 10 Common Errors You Need To Fix In Your Writing RIGHT NOW
2) Character and story is EVERYTHING
I can’t stress this enough. You can forget everything else, as long as you know this. I’m serious. Write a great (aka MEMORABLE) character, doing something really interesting *for some reason*. If this shows you know your target audience, your structure, genre and tone? BOOM. You will sell something. It is as simple – and as difficult – as this! honest, guv! MORE: “Why This Story?” Or 8 Questions They’re REALLY Asking
3) We DON’T NEED any more vanilla writing
This is the thing. There are more submissions than can ever be read. Your screenplay or unpublished novel might look professional, but if it isn’t FULL OF FLAVOUR, then we just won’t care.
We want something that will GRAB us, even if that means we go, “Ewwwwww I don’t like that, YUK!” Because that’s how we remember. Vanilla writing is “Oh sure, it’s fine.” Do we want it? Again, NO. Do we remember it? DOUBLE NO. Better to inspire loathing, than be met with a “MEH”.
So REJECT VANILLA. Have the guts to make your writing strawberry, chocolate, mint, orange, banana, bubblegum, soap, metal, fire, stinging nettle, WHATEVER. Just do it! MORE: Writers, Stop Sabotaging Yourself – Here’s How
4) You must reject writing CONFORMITY
Working with writers, what do I think is their biggest enemy? Easy. THEMSELVES.
Why? Because writers will impose certain standards on their own work and others’, just based on what they perceive is the “right” way. And what’s more, just because LOADS of people think this way? Does not make it the “right” way.
In fact, I’d venture the more people who tell you you’re WRONG about something? The more likely you’re on the right track. So keep going and damn the naysayers to hell! MORE: On Writing “Conformity” And Why It’s A Missed Opportunity For Writers
5) You gotta make your breakthrough YOURSELF!
Writers desperate to break through think it is about conforming to some accepted “standard”. As a result, they fail to STAND OUT. HOWZAT for irony??
So instead you must go out there and you stand up for something you believe in and do it the best way you can.
THIS is how you get your break, NOT by doing what you’re “supposed” to. Never, ever forget that and never, ever apologise. JUST DO IT. See you on the other side! MORE: 7 Things You Must Stop Doing If You Want To Be A Professional Writer