This is one of my favorite things to talk about. We’ve all heard of them. Most of us know them.

The Rules of Writing.

I’m not going to launch into page after page of all the written and unwritten rules of writing. They are there, and we all know it.

Now, I want to say this, but take it with a grain of salt. You can break the rules.

However, and this is the most important part: you have to know what the rules are when you break them and what that means.

One of my favorite examples is when an author drops a reader in the middle of a scene. By that, I mean the scene starts more in the middle rather than at the beginning.

This is an effective tool when used correctly, but very disorienting to a reader when used incorrectly.

Dropping a reader off in the middle of a scene is disruptive. We don’t know who’s talking, where we are or what’s actually happening. Sometimes, that’s just fine.

In cases where the action of the story is disorienting, using this technique can make the reader fell that disorientation so that they experience right along with the main characters of the story. It gets a reader more connected to a story. That’s a good thing.

But, when you do that in a scene that doesn’t require it, it’s just confusing.

And let’s be honest, when we’re writing history or true crime, we want to be a clean and clear as possible. If your reader gets disoriented, you may be the one responsible for that. And if a reader experiences that too many times, they’re more likely to give up than keep reading to figure it out.

That is an example of only one rule. But my point is clear that you have to know these rules to ensure you know the effects of breaking them.

All of this is to say, do your homework. Make sure you understand what you’re doing when you do it. That requires research and reading, but that’s something you are already doing anyway, so make sure you brush up on those rules.

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