Do you follow all the writing rules? It is a great idea to be familiar with all the writing rules and understand the reasoning behind the rules. Following the rules can help writers achieve clarity, coherence, and consistency in their writing, making it more accessible and effective for the intended audience. But ultimately, whether to follow or break the rules is a matter of choice.
However, breaking the rules can also add creative and artistic elements to your writing, such as creating a unique voice, style, or atmosphere.
I once took a photography class, and the professor gave us rules to photograph an egg with instructions to make it creative. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how to take a creative picture of that egg because of the rules. I am a rule follower by nature. When I got to class, it shocked me to learn that most of the other students had broken the rules. And that was the point… rules are meant to be broken.
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The Importance of Rules
It’s important for writers to understand the rules and know when it is appropriate to break them. A talented writer, should be able to use the rules to their advantage and make conscious decisions about when to break them to achieve a specific effect. In short, knowing the rules is necessary, but not always following them.
William Safire’s Fumblerules of Grammar
The following list is derived from William Safire’s Rules for Writers printed in the New York Times. William was an author, columnist, journalist, and political speechwriter. Enjoy his list of tongue-in-cheek grammar rules, which he called The Fumblerules of Grammar.
1. Always avoid alliteration.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. Avoid cliches like the plague… they’re old hat.
4. Employ the vernacular.
5. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
6. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
7. Parenthetical words however must be enclosed in commas.
8. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
9. Contractions aren’t necessary.
10. Do not use a foreign word when there is an adequate English quid pro quo.
11. One should never generalize.
12. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
13. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
14. Don’t be redundant; don’t use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
15. It behooves you to avoid archaic expressions.
16. Avoid archaeic spellings too.
17. Understatement is always best.
18. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
19. One-word sentences? Eliminate. Always!
20. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
21. The passive voice should not be used.
22. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
23. Don’t repeat yourself, or say again what you have said before.
24. Who needs rhetorical questions?
25. Don’t use commas, that, are not, necessary.
26. Do not use hyperbole; not one in a million can do it effectively.
27. Never use a big word when a diminutive alternative would suffice.
28. Subject and verb always has to agree.
29. Be more or less specific.
30. Placing a comma between subject and predicate, is not correct.
31. Use youre spell chekker to avoid mispeling and to catch typograhpical errers.
32. Don’t repeat yourself, or say again what you have said before.
33. Don’t be redundant.
34. Use the apostrophe in it’s proper place and omit it when its not needed.
35. Don’t never use no double negatives.
36. Poofread carefully to see if you any words out.
37. Hopefully, you will use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
38. Eschew obfuscation.
39. No sentence fragments.
40. Don’t indulge in sesquipedalian lexicological constructions.
41. A writer must not shift your point of view.
42. Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!
43. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
44. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
45. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
46. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
47. Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
48. Always pick on the correct idiom.
49. The adverb always follows the verb.
50. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
51. If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be by rereading and editing.
52. And always be sure to finish what
Last Words on Breaking Writing Rules
I hope you enjoyed this humorous look at breaking writing rules. Are there any writing rules you break? Let me know in the comments.
Feature image from Ivory Mix.