Thursday, May 28, 2009

Medal of Honor Tactics

Calling all rule-followers!

As the Rule Following Master Champion I want to share a breakthrough I had today. My husband was talking about people who win the Medal of Honor and laid out a very simple truth: they are all rule-breakers.

People who follow orders don't get Medals of Honor.

It's the people who know what needs to be done and take the risks, who become great, and are honored.

I think you might see where I'm going where this applies to writing. We hear so many rules each and every day about how to start a novel, how to write a proper sentence, how to do fill-in-the-blank.

And a lot of us obsess about it, which is good to a point. My epiphany today is that you need to learn the rules in order to separate yourself from the masses. If you know what you're doing, and what's expected to be competent, you're already ahead of the curve.

The next step after you know the rules?

Break them.

A lot of great novels start with a dream sequence or a crazy prologue that happened 500 years in the past. A lot of authors begin sentences with "And," or use dashes instead of semi-colons.

They take risks, they do the unexpected, within the framework of skilled writing.

Those who do find themselves rewarded, time and time again.

What do you guys think? Are you a rule-breaker or a rule-follower?

What are your successes with either?

How might doing the other help?


Abby said...

I've recently felt empowered to break some rules, as you know, :) but I don't think I'll ever truly consider myself a rule breaker. It's just not in my nature. Mostly, I'm just a boring rule follower.

Scott said...

I'm a rule breaker. I love breaking the rules. It's what I live for (oops, there's that preposition at the end of the sentence thingy)!

I love the post. You're absolutely right!


Danyelle said...

I'm generally a rule-follower, but in writing, I'm a rule breaker. Many of the rules seem silly and they don't seem to have a good reason to exist. I think it's important to know the "rules" beforehand--so you break 'em on purpose, but all I want is a great story, clearly told.