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22 votes

Rules about breaking the rules. How do I do it well?

I would say that in writing, in particular, we shouldn't break the simple rules of grammar and spelling and many other basics. My reason for that is quite simple, if you writer "gramer, speling, n ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 102k
19 votes
Accepted

How to help the reader wrestle through historical atrocities which would be considered normal to the POV character

"Sadly, women in ancient China had no sense of self-respect." I'd like to disagree with this statement. When you say this, you are already thinking in modern terms. My area is European Middle Ages ...
SC for reinstatement of Monica's user avatar
16 votes
Accepted

Is using first person in academic/technical essays always bad?

This depends on your style guide and potentially your teacher/school/boss/etc.'s guidelines. If your teacher (for example) says to avoid using the first person you may be able to negotiate to change ...
Laurel's user avatar
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12 votes
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Rules about breaking the rules. How do I do it well?

Elaborating on what a great teacher (Portuguese literature) of mine once said: 1. Rules exist for a reason - understand why If you know why a rule exists, you know when you should follow it, when ...
SC for reinstatement of Monica's user avatar
11 votes
Accepted

How to describe a diverse set of characters without falling into purple prose or exoticism?

There are a number of solutions that I have for this, as I suffered from the same problem: Only describe what you need to Imagine trying to describe James Bond to someone. You could say that he is ...
Mike.C.Ford's user avatar
  • 5,280
11 votes

The "Rules" of Writing

Value a "fresh eyes" point of view on your material This is a set of tips and techniques to try to come at your material with fresh eyes (especially after the first draft). Set the first draft aside ...
11 votes

The "Rules" of Writing

Cut 10% of your first draft in editing This tip is from Stephen King's memoir "On Writing." He got the tip as a comment in one of his rejection letters. The idea is that the language of your ...
11 votes

The "Rules" of Writing

Kill your darlings The idea is that the mind is able to think "ingenious" about any old idea, and that the truth of that assessment can only be tested by trying the idea in reality. Unfortunately ...
11 votes

Is this kind of description not recommended?

This reads completely normal to me and I don't really see anything wrong with it. If "tall" is what identifies the person in this scene it would be normal to use that if the narrator doesn't know ...
Secespitus's user avatar
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9 votes

Writing rule which states that two causes for the same superpower is bad writing

First, welcome to StackExchange! Now onto your question: there aren't any enforced rules when it comes to superpowers or even fiction. The closest thing would be a consistency guideline. Consistency, ...
RoboticArchangel's user avatar
8 votes

The "Rules" of Writing

Write Daily. Never let a day pass without writing something. Even if you have no ideas or mood to write just fill a page with whatever comes to mind. It doesn't matter if it is of garbage quality, ...
8 votes

What is the rule for commas?

How many commas? Instinctively you have too many, but you are using most correctly. The comma before 'but' is only appropriate if 'but' begins an independent clause or if there is another dependent ...
SFWriter's user avatar
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7 votes

Rewriting User Guides as Stories

As noted in this answer, you do need to be mindful that for a user guide your reader's goal is information, while for a rulebook it can also be entertainment. If the entertainment gets in the way of ...
Monica Cellio's user avatar
7 votes

The "Rules" of Writing

Give yourself inspiration. Now, I already gave an answer on the question "I can't write without an inspiration" that explained why you must give yourself inspiration. But I'll write it here. ...
7 votes

Am I Breaking Too Many Rules?

Finish the story. Finish it whether it's one book, two, or five. Writing is practice for writing; editing is practice for editing. No effort is wasted. If you have two or three really good books, ...
Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum's user avatar
7 votes

Writing rule which states that two causes for the same superpower is bad writing

I have been researching comics history for a few decades and I have never heard of such a rule. Others in the thread have given examples. It's true that there are a few stories in which all ...
El Cadejo's user avatar
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6 votes
Accepted

How does one gauge the strength of any particular adverb?

Adverbs within dialogue are fine, if real people use them (like really). I would avoid stuffing an adverb into dialogue, or using dialogue as a cheat to express with an adverb what should be ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 102k
6 votes

How far can insults go in a "Young Adult" novel?

This isn't a general rule, but perhaps one that might be useful to you. Teachers, like myself, don't really want swearing or explicit sexual references in the texts we teach. Reading them out loud can ...
S. Mitchell's user avatar
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6 votes
Accepted

Are creative writers all granted implicit immunity from grammar rules?

This is a question of "voice." In general, characters are expected to speak largely as real people speak, and real people often speak with non-standard grammar. However, if it becomes too hard to ...
Chris Sunami's user avatar
  • 56.5k
6 votes

Rules about breaking the rules. How do I do it well?

Neil Gaiman, making a commencement speech in the University of the Arts in 2012, said the following: When you start out on a career in the arts you have no idea what you are doing. This is great. ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
6 votes

Is this kind of description not recommended?

Sometimes you'll see authors avoid constantly repeating character names by replacing them with descriptors. For instance (assume that all three descriptors are referring to John, the tall man who is ...
Chris Sunami's user avatar
  • 56.5k
6 votes

Breaking the Rules

After you've thoroughly mastered the rules, and understood them, you can break them any time you want to. That may sound counter-intuitive, but there's an explanation behind it. Artistic rules are ...
Chris Sunami's user avatar
  • 56.5k
5 votes

How to describe a diverse set of characters without falling into purple prose or exoticism?

In looking at your excerpts, and granting for translation, I think the problem is that you start well and then add too much. You don't have to give all the details at once. If this is a person we ...
Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum's user avatar
5 votes

What if the hero doesn't win?

You don't have to adhere to a formula. You don't have to follow a set of rules. You do have to create something other people want to read (assuming that is your goal). Guidelines for writing are ...
S. Mitchell's user avatar
  • 7,936
5 votes

Is using first person in academic/technical essays always bad?

My recommendation is to use first-person pronouns only for attribution. If you do something original, such as a thesis or other research, it makes sense to use "we" for things you did with your ...
J.G.'s user avatar
  • 9,567
5 votes

How to help the reader wrestle through historical atrocities which would be considered normal to the POV character

I would say, trust the reader, and trust your character. Although these things may not be "discussed", they can certainly be thought about by your POV character. She is doing something highly ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 102k
5 votes

How do you transcribe a person's tone (i.e. someone whose speech is rude and/or attacking)?

I've done legal transcription for a number of different jurisdictions and I've never seen a style guide that permits this. It's either verbatim transcription or minor edits to correct false starts, ...
JKim's user avatar
  • 151
5 votes

Breaking the Rules

Whenever it improves the style of a piece. Style rules are only guidelines; when it is incorrect usage, it would be a grammatical rule. There is, for style, no way except to play it by ear in end.
Mary's user avatar
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4 votes
Accepted

Am I Breaking Too Many Rules?

Yes, I was breaking too many rules. It's over a year later. I finished the book based on advice here, largely sticking to my original timeline and expected word count. The novel has been placed in a ...
Kirk's user avatar
  • 7,600
4 votes

Is using first person in academic/technical essays always bad?

Like with so many other issues of style, it depends on your audience. For a school essay, your audience is your teacher. So write the essay your teacher wants, no matter if it's okay to do it ...
Cyn's user avatar
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