Breaking The Rules of Writing

9 Aug

003Welcome back and Happy Friday!

I’ve been dragging mentally and emotionally this week. Nothing I do pleases me, and doubts will always be with me regarding my abilities as a writer.  I’m pretty sure most of you reading this can relate.

Anyway, let’s start with a quote and then we’ll carry on.


Hell, there are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something.
Thomas A. Edison

I think old Thomas was onto something.

Listen, I can give you all the advice and tips you could ever need, but one thing is irrefutable:  if you don’t work at your craft and improve your writing, then don’t expect Fame and Fortune to come knocking soon.

Great writers break rules all the time, but they seem to have an innate sense of when to break rules for the benefit of the story they are telling or the article they are writing.


From Kurt Vonnegut, these tips to consider:

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

The greatest American short story writer of my generation was Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964). She broke practically every one of my rules but the first. Great writers tend to do that.


The Juniper Prize For Poetry is accepting submissions until the end of September. You can find the submission guidelines here.


random pictures March 2012 008

Here you go…let your imagination loose and see where it takes you.


I know, this is short, but I guess you could say I just broke my own rule.  Get outside and enjoy one of the last summer weekends.  You deserve it.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

12 Responses to “Breaking The Rules of Writing”

  1. Janine Huldie August 9, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    I am just so happy it is Friday and was so busy this week, really do need the weekend and the break. Hope you too get a much needed break and once again have great weekend!! 🙂

    • Billybuc August 9, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

      I am happy too, Janine….this week seems to have dragged endlessly. Thank you my friend

  2. pictimilitude August 9, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

    Happy Friday. 🙂 I think you deserve a nice rest this weekend. I think that’s one of the hardest things for me: I truly have trouble leaving work behind. I think it’s one of the things that ultimately pushed me back into teaching (besides many other good things): I would work and work and work, even on the weekends, and never take a break. I felt too guilty not making much money, so I’d work harder. I didn’t set good boundaries. But, that’s good because I think it all helped push me to where I needed to go. 🙂

    • Billybuc August 9, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

      Happy Friday Cyndi!

      I force myself to take the weekends off now and I do mean force myself. LOL I’m always thinking I can do more…in fact, I’m writing a hub for next week about meeting my expectations, which is an impossible task, but that doesn’t keep me from trying. 🙂

  3. Kelly Umphenour August 9, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

    I’m also glad it’s Friday…and Bill of all people why do you doubt yourself? You’re a prolific writer and your accomplishments are to be admired. I do believ you are a tired guy today because you’re always the one bringing the punch to the party:)

    • Billybuc August 9, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

      Thanks Kelly! I’m writing an article about that….I will never meet my own expectations. I have a goal that is unattainable and that, my friend, is exhausting. LOL

      Have a great weekend and I promise to do the same.

  4. Stephanie August 9, 2013 at 11:17 pm #

    Those tips by Kurt Vonnegut were wonderful. Have a great weekend! Aloha, Stephanie

    • Billybuc August 9, 2013 at 11:24 pm #

      Thank you Stephanie and I wish the same to you.

      Aloha my friend


  5. ruchira August 10, 2013 at 5:30 am #

    A break is always welcome. I hope to get some rest this weekend and be back with some more encouraging words.

    Have a good weekend, bill

    • Billybuc August 10, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

      Rest up Ruchira and enjoy your weekend. Thank you!

  6. i'mkarn August 10, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

    Ah, Bill…are folks of our ilk ever satisfied with ourselves? We’re far more generous with others, me thinks..
    As far as writing goes, i have one more ‘tip’ to add to your excellent list. This book-writing has been an experience (understatement). I can’t believe what i’ve learned or what’s involved. When i feel ‘scared’, or just don’t believe i have anything to say or anywhere to take the story – my ‘mentor’ has 2 words for me.
    While i don’t remember who said them, i DO remember the two words precisely:
    have a wonderful weekend, my friendxx

    • Billybuc August 11, 2013 at 1:46 am #

      Leslie, if we ever figure out how to be generous with ourselves we will have it made.

      I’m proud of you for your efforts in writing your book. Well done my friend.

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