Writing, Among Other Things

Are Rules for Fools?

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Look around you, and you are sure to find people who are breaking rules all the time, and, what is more, they are getting away with it. They are not just getting away with it, but are even appreciated for breaking the rules. Doesn’t that make you want to break some rules too?

When we see so many successful people around us happily breaking rules, we begin to think that rules are for fools, don’t we?

Writing is no different. Many famous authors are known for flirting with the rules; they live their writing lives on the brink – bending one rule, and breaking another. Not surprisingly, we think, “ If he could break the rule and get away with it, why can’t I?”

A few years back, I used to think on the same lines. I thought that the writing rules did not apply to me. All I had to do was convey my meaning. But rules, as much as we would like to believe otherwise, are not for fools.

There is a reason for rules to exist. Rules are made so that they can act as guiding lights. A majority follows these rules, and if you want to convey your meaning to this majority it is best to use words, and language, that they understand. In other words, you have to follow the rules that the majority follows. If your writing violates these rules, you will find it hard to find an audience for your work.

In addition if you break rules, you are likely to come across as someone who is ignorant of the rules. An ignorant man, will simply be ignored and, I am sure, being ignored is the last thing a writer wants.

So, to be taken seriously you have to follow the rules.

But, herein lies the paradox. If you simply follow all the rules, and do not experiment with the boundaries of the rules, you are not likely to create something spectacular. To do that, you have to break some rules.

In order to break the rules, you have to first know all the rules.

All the famous authors who are admired for breaking rules were well versed in the rules, and it showed in their writing. They had spent years following the rules, understanding them, and only breaking the rules when the rules were becoming a hindrance to their creativity.

You can, and should, break the rules every now and then. But before you do that, make sure that you know all the rules. To break the rules, therefore, you have to follow them first. Wouldn’t you agree?

(Image courtesy: florinf from

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1 Comment

  1. I might be a wild child but I don’t lie and I don’t break the rules. Killer post.

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