This is Your Permission to Write Whatever You Want
Between editors’ advice, writing tips, and readers’ opinions, we hear a lot of shouldn’ts and don’ts. I want to tell everyone that it’s okay to not always listen to that advice.
The Argument for Writing Don’ts
Now, I’m not going to try to tell you to not listen to any of it. I’m sure people have overused things like describing characters by having them look at themselves in a mirror and that certain things like ambiguous endings are less likely to be wildly popular money makers.
Editors do know things we can benefit from, and people do have preferences. But knowing these things is only helpful if it improves your writing. It shouldn’t inhibit it.
Even Perfection Isn’t Perfect
Like how grammar makes our written ideas easier to understand, writing techniques are our tools to make our point and inspire feelings with our words. Even with grammar, there are exceptions, times when experts agree that a point is best made in a way that isn’t actually grammatically correct. The same is true with writing techniques.
People say you should learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist. That is what you’re doing when you write, you’re telling your story and you want to use your tools skillfully and strategically to do it in the most effective way.
To Write What You Want is a Calculated Risk
Most of the time, the best choice wouldn’t be to start a story with dialogue, for instance. Sometimes it is. It depends on the story and whether the dialogue in the first line does something important that starting it in the more conventional way can’t do.
Yes, each time you make a choice to write what you want over the most popular advice or writing rules, you are taking a risk, but sometimes greatness comes from taking risks.
Some people don’t have hard and fast rules about what they want or expect from a book. Some people love ambiguous endings or stories that are mind-benders. I love both, but most importantly, I am willing to go wherever you want to go with your story as long as the story gets to me.
By telling you to write what you want, I’m not saying you should just write willy-nilly. I am saying you should make your story your guide and write whatever that story needs to shine.
If you consider what a plot or scene needs and it is improved by following conventional advice, then go for it. If you consider a plot or scene and you feel it is benefited more by taking a risk, then go for it.
You will create art, at least, and, who knows, you might do something people will think is really impressive because you went against the grain. Whatever you do, serve your story.