My #1 Writing Rule

I’m sure you’ve all heard that there are no rules in creative writing. However, anyone who’s taken a writing class or read a writing book knows that’s not true.

There are no set “rules” to writing a story. The rules that writers/editors give are guidelines based upon experience as both reader and writer. It’s like “Don’t count your chicken before they hatch.” It’s not a rule. It’s a guideline.

Good writers that break those “rules” do so only after they have mastered those rules. You can’t be a ninja until you learn to properly wax a car.

My number one rule of writing as I’ve learned so far is:

Consistency.

Consistency means many things. It means that your characters’ names don’t change halfway through the novel. It means that their actions correlate to their personality, beliefs, and background, and stay that way throughout the story unless the plot dictates otherwise.

‘Burnt’ and ‘burned’ are both accepted words. Don’t use them both in a story. Pick a spelling and be consistent. If you use ‘burnt’ also use ‘leapt’ and ‘crept,’ don’t only use ‘burnt’ and then also use ‘leaped.’

If you character breaks the fourth wall in Chapter five, but never does it again, it’s inconsistent. If a character walks into a room in Chapter eight and makes note of all these offbeat colors but has never before done this and never again does, it’s inconsistent. If you add the “‘s” to possessive nouns that end in “s,” use them through out. If you use “alright,” don’t also use “all right.” (They mean the same thing 85% of the time).

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