Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Open Post: What "Rule" Bothers You the Most?

I think we can all agree that it's pretty much impossible to follow Bane's post on Voice from yesterday with anything approaching that level of awesome. So, in true pragmatist (or maybe lazybutt) fashion, I'm not even going to try.

Instead, I'll turn the spotlight around onto the Alliterati readers. I've talked about my hatred of writing rules over at Free the Princess already, and L.T. Host has detailed her loathing of the same here, but I'm wondering ...

What "rule" bothers you the most?

I'm curious to see if there's one particular admonition that people keep getting annoyed by, or if it goes pretty much across the board. Let us know in the comments!

15 comments:

Bane of Anubis said...

I'd say the begin in media res rule/guideline annoys me most. As anybody who's ready anything of mine knows, I enjoy writing action, but I kind of like having a bit more setup too, particularly in non-standard worlds.

That and word counts. I think they're overrated. If the story's better at 40,000 words than 60k, I'm sure readers will still flock to it even though it's a few dozen pages shorter.

Renee Pinner said...

I hate all rules that don't come naturally to me as I write. In fact, I hate rules. I'm not a big fan of grammar either. And, please don't get me started on English as a language. If it weren't for rules, we'd not have one.

Rick Daley said...

I'm floored by the hatred of prologues, especially by people who say they won't read them. It's not a rule to me, but it seems those who are against prologues make it a major rule that that should never be broken.

L. T. Host said...

You all already know how I feel. My pets, though, are probably anything that starts with "Don't use too many _____s" and anything to do with tense, or POV. Honestly? Those aren't rules. Those are OPINIONS, and I have my own, too, and it says that those things alone have never stopped me from reading a book. What HAS stopped me from reading a book is a bad story. STORY should be the only rule. Tell a good one, and the rest will come.

Matthew Delman said...

Bane -- The in media res rule is less bothersome to me than some, but only because I'm used to having that teaser sequence at the front of TV shows before the credits. It makes sense to me for some reason.

Renee -- I find it fascinating that many of our "rules" in the English language exist because of the way Latin works.

Rick -- The anti-prologue law is an odd one, I think. People seem to conflate prologues with poor writing; as in "if it was so necessary why didn't he reveal it through the rest of the story instead?"

L.T. -- Exactly! Writing an interesting story is the only thing that should matter. Who cares if it's in present tense or past tense so long as it's interesting?

Bookewyrme said...

I hate most of the "rules" but I especially hate the ones which make you pare your sentences down to simple, short sentences with no adjectives, adverbs, commas, or anything else. Sure a few of those sentences are necessary, but an entire 80k word book of simple sentences? How boring! I want some flair and dramatics in my stories, which practically require the use of all parts of speech, and variation in sentence length and structure!

~Lia

Jemi Fraser said...

"Only write what you know" drives me batty if I take it in a literal sense. My current ms is set in Steampunk England where teens are inventing new devices and searching for murderers... not things I do in real life :)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I'm with Band on the in media res. As if there's only one "right" way to tell a story. Until someone does it differently, and it's brilliant. (which happens all the time)

fairyhedgehog said...

I hate the "don't use the passive" rule because most people who wield it at others don't have a clue what they're talking about!

Bane of Anubis said...

Ooh -- ditto what fairy said.

Genie of the Shell said...

Hmmm, I dunno, I kind of love rules. No joke. I need a structure to work with, even if that means climbing on the roof or blowing it up. It's so much more exciting to BREAK the rules if everyone knows what they are. A rule broken with purpose and panache makes a real statement.

My only pet peeve is, like Fairy and Bane implied, the people who act like Writing Rule hall monitors and point out instances of obviously intentional rule-breaking, thinking they're amateur mistakes, because they don't "get" it.

I've learned not to worry about rules, but to consider each one and then use or abuse it to suit my own purposes.

Mac said...

Folk!? Hate? I certainly hate no rules. They are there for a reason, to give guidance, to assist us hone our craft. I break many a rule, but I respect each and every one. -- Mac

Susan R. Mills said...

I second everything Genie said. I do like the rules because it gives me something to follow, but breaking the rules makes me feel empowered, like I actually know what I'm doing and why I'm doing it.

Stephanie Thornton said...

I like prologues.

There, I said it. I chopped mine, but sometimes I still miss it. One day, when I'm as big as Stephen King I plan to include prologues in all of my books.

Adam Heine said...

I'm with Rick on prologues. And doubly so on the open-mouthed shock at people who don't read them.

I've seen bad prologues, but I've seen lots of good ones too. And the good ones are as much a part of the story as any other chapter (just, usually, from some other point of view).