When Can You Break Rules?

Recently, I started reading a book by a well-known young adult author.  I’ve read several books by him already, and he’s one of my favorite authors.  His more recent series has become incredibly popular with teenagers, so I was really excited to start reading it.  Now, I’m a quarter of the way through the book, and I’m having a difficult time truly enjoying this novel.  It seems to break many of the “rules” of writing, which is constantly distracting me from the characters and plot.

I’m certainly not saying the book isn’t good, but it got me thinking about when we are allowed to break rules.  Are we allowed to break rules when we become well-known writers?  Or is our writing simply better when we stop worrying about the rules altogether?

Here are just a couple of the “broken rules” I noticed:

Telling something and then showing it.  Just show it. 

Example of broken rule: I shuddered at his touch.  The feeling of his hands on me grossed me out.

The way it should be written: I shuddered at his touch.

Saying “I felt” or “I saw” in first person. Just say it.

Example of broken rule: I felt like he was being really mean.

The way it should be written: He was being really mean.

I was also wondering if these rules are broken more in first person or if perhaps they’re broken more in young adult fiction.  What are your thoughts?  I don’t have a good answer, but I am extremely curious.


About lisamorrowbooks

Lisa Morrow is a life-long reader who treasures fantasy in all forms. Being a middle child in a large family gave her a unique perspective on the world, but few experiences compare to her time spent studying abroad in Cambridge, England and wandering throughout Europe. After her travels, Lisa settled down in Arizona to teach junior high English, and later, to spend time with her young children, husband, and cats. To some people, her life may seem quiet. But to her, every day is spent in a world colored by the imagination of children, and fantastical worlds created by her very own mind.
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