Rules for writing?

February 16, 2013 at 8:25 am

I recently came across this on someone’s Facebook page:

The Rules for Writing a Modern Novel

  1. Never open a book with the weather
  2. Avoid prologues
  3. Never use a verb other than ‘said’ to carry dialogue
  4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb ‘said’
  5. Keep your exclamation points under control
  6. Never use the words ‘suddenly’ or ‘all hell broke loose’
  7. Use dialect sparingly
  8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters
  9. Avoid detailed descriptions of places or things
  10. Leave out the parts readers tend to skip


After reading this list I was more than a little depressed. I think I break every single one in my first novel! I’m not sure if this means I’m a bad writer or just that I like to avoid trends.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen lists of ‘rules’ to follow when you’re writing. While I’m not suggesting it’s a bad thing to have rules like these, I wonder just how hard and fast any rules are. If you are a writer do you follow guidelines like the ten steps above or do you think it’s all garbage?

Over the next few posts I’m going to look at each of these guidelines individually and see what I can discover about them, so watch this space!

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