“You must learn the rules before you break them.”
Have you ever heard this saying before? It’s quite popular, even in the academic world where you would think we would never say such a thing.
The idea behind this is that we must first learn the rules of punctuation, active versus passive voice, proper syntax, points of view, use of adverbs, etc., before we break them.
You might be asking, “If I’m breaking the rules, then why is it necessary to learn them at all?”
When you break these writing rules, you don’t do it willy-nilly, you do it with a specific goal in mind. For instance, one common rule of writing is that the author never switches points of view. Consider the world-renown Harry Potter series which is primarily told from Harry’s point of view. However, it occasionally drifts away from Harry in these following scenes: the OPENING SCENE OF THE NOVEL (Harry’s only a baby so we get the Dursley’s point of view) and in Snape’s house as he makes the unbreakable vow (Harry isn’t there).
This rule of remaining in a consistent point of view was broken because it was necessary for the story.
As you can see, sometimes rules must be broken; however, having the knowledge of the rules and why they’re important also plays a role in maintaining the quality of your work. These scenes were necessary in the Harry Potter series and therefore, Rowling broke the rule. However, knowing how important the rule is in the first place keeps Rowling in check for the majority of the novel and draws in readers with a consistent narrative.
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This is only one example of a rule that was well-broken.
Can you think of others?
Happy Writing Everyone! Get out there and break some rules!!! (Intentionally of course)
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