There are a number of descriptions that suit me...whether I like them or not. Among those that I've heard the most in my life include "Miss Goody Two-Shoes," "Little German Rule Follower" and the more succinct "Oh, Anal One."
Okay, I'll admit it. I like everything in its place. I'm fond of routine and don't do well "winging it." And if someone so much as hints at doing something that's against the rules while I'm along for the ride, I break out in hives.
In school, I absorbed spelling, grammar and punctuation rules like a Jersey Shore cast member sucks in UV rays. When I applied that knowledge to edit my friends' papers for them, they withheld their creative "nicknames" for me. Of course, they didn't hesitate to bring those nicknames back up the next time I ruined their "good time" by reiterating the rules.
I have such an attachment to the rules of writing that I became a freelance editor when I was in my early twenties. Writing errors tend to leap out at me, and correcting those errors just makes my Type A day. So when I realized that I'm a writing rule breaker, I didn't know whether to flog myself or celebrate finally coming out of my shell.
What rule do I break, you ask? Well, that would be the age-old POV rule.
I write in the third-person. Generally speaking, the "rules" for writing in the third person imply that you should write stories from the POV of no more than three characters (with less being ideal). Furthermore, you should only ever write from the POV of the main characters.
For once, I fly in the face of convention. I love a well-rounded, carefully woven story that incorporates a number of different perspectives. Bringing those characters and their varying points of view together makes me feel like a master technician, and I believe it helps my readers get to know my cast of characters almost as well as I do.
Mind you, each scene I write unfolds from the POV of one character, with breaks between POV changes. Where I stray from the rules is not limiting the number of POV shifts within a story. If it feels right and there's a character whose POV makes the most sense for a scene, I write it! It might come out later or get edited to be from a different character's POV, but I don't let the rules restrict me.
To ensure that my readers connect with the protagonists in a book, I write the majority of the scenes from the points of view of my two main characters. Any other points of view included in the story serve to enhance and drive the plot. It's then my job to bring it all together by the end of the book.
The bottom line is that I'm a rule breaker...but I break the rules with care and purpose. If you'd like the chance to find out for yourself whether I do this with success, I'll mention that Becoming (Book One in the Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy) has just gone on sale for $0.99 on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com as a Valentine's Day promotion. I certainly welcome your thoughts!
What writing rules do you break?