Breaking the Rules

Sometimes I must remind myself that it’s okay to “break the rules” when I am writing.

It has been hard to do this because of the academic indoctrination received during my formal education years ago. Teachers insisted that only the great writers were allowed to break the rules, while the rest of us had to muddle along a traditional path of following the rules.

During my high school years of English literature and writing courses there always had to be a beginning, middle and end to everything – whether it was an essay or story. Back then (1970-74) there wasn’t such a thing as “micro-fiction” because that form does in fact break the traditional rules of a story.

During my freshman & sophomore writing classes in college the same thing happened: One was expected to follow the traditional rules without fail, if you wanted to pass the course. The professors I had saw no value in “experimentation” because again, breaking the rules was for the Great Ones.

In the past number of years I’ve written a slew of mostly unpublished short fiction pieces that indeed break the rules, because they don’t have the traditional beginning, middle and end. It doesn’t make them incomplete nor do I consider myself a great writer of stories.

Most recently I have pushed aside those rules and come out of that shell of formal indoctrination. This doesn’t mean that I advocate that wannabe writers should start off breaking the rules of good grammar and good writing, but they shouldn’t let themselves be stuck there all their days like I did to myself. You never know, one day you might put out a highly experimental piece of writing and get recognized as a ground-breaking author. Then again, maybe not. It’s a crap shoot!

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