I’ve got Hobbits on the brain. Sorry.
I was driving today and thinking about writing rules. About how they’re bullshit. There’s really only one good writing rule: tell a great story.
Not just a great story, but an amazing story. The kind of story that only you can write. The kind of story that someone won’t be able to put down.
All those other rules are just things people made up. Sure, often they’re good suggestions, but publishing gods won’t smite you down with lightning made of ink for breaking them. Look at Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings. Not only does it have a prologue, but it’s got a prelude and an epilogue and like five interludes. The book is nuts! But it’s entertaining. It kept me engaged through like a thousand pages.
And I’m sure Twilight broke every rule of writing ever invented. People will tell you that you have to know the rules before you can break them, and they’re usually right, but there are always exceptions. I may have thought it was crap, but millions of people clearly think Stephanie Meyers told a hell of a story.
Even The Deathday Letter breaks a huge rule on the first page. Don’t start with your character waking up. I wasn’t think about rules when I wrote that scene. I simply knew it was the right place to start that story. So I did it. Rules be damned.
There are blogs and books and legions of naysayers all telling writers what they should and shouldn’t do to write a successful story, but I think they all fail to understand that rules don’t sell books. Great stories sell books.
Sometimes you can break all the rules and still come out on top. And following every rule won’t guarantee you success. The best you can do is follow the story, listen to yourself, and write something brilliant.