Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it.
~Henry David Thoreau
Haven't had a Thoreau quote for a while, and this one seemed appropriate to what I've been thinking about lately.
The Writing Rules.
Yes, I've blogged about this before. That's okay. It's worth talking about again. I'm sure you've heard these "rules" for writing. To be verbs, adverbs, show don't tell, blah, blah, blah...
There are actually good reasons for these rules.
Avoid using "to be" verbs (is, was, etc.): Because this often indicates a passive sentence and those are, well, passive. Active is more engaging. But, really, we can't eliminate one of the most used verbs in the language now, can we?
Don't use adverbs: Because adverbs don't leave a strong impact on the reader. Unless you use them judiciously and sparingly. Then they'll have an impact.
Ditto for dialog tags other than "said."
Don't start sentences with an -ing verb: Because if you overdo it, your sentences all have the same cadence and become sing-songy. Readers will tune out. But, hey, once in a while isn't a problem.
Show, don't tell: Because telling distances the reader from the story. There are times when you need a little distance in the story. Don't show when showing would be boring or unnecessary.
This will hold true for any writing rule you've ever heard. It's important to know these rules. It's important to know why they are brought up. It's important to know when to ignore them.
We each have a unique voice. Don't stifle yours by obsessing about the rules. Only you can decide what is right for your story. Trust yourself to know.