Rules of Enragement: A Rant

I like some rules. I like to come to a complete halt at stop signs. When told not to enter, I enter not. The speed limit is, generally, just fine for me. I  tend to see the sign and make every effort to stay within five miles per hour of its suggestion. It annoys me when I’m rolling along between 55 – 58 and people come screaming up from behind, angry that I’m not going faster.

When I see these road meanies pulled over, getting a ticket, it makes me happy. I like to think that when they get to work they are fired for habitual tardiness. Naturally, they turn to drugs and alcohol, and eventually the road meanie dies in a pile of their own sick, alone and broken. It’s the romantic in me.

Still, there are other rules that have been put in place, mostly by the “establishment” of the writing community. These “unwritten rules” are beaten into every student who doth aspire to craft a tale. These paragons of writerly virtue strongly advise against using archaic words like “doth”.

Okay, that’s probably some good advice. I’ll give them that one. What was I saying?

Oh yes, the evil writing troll monsters say, “You must NEVER use an adverb, rewrite everything a dozen times or it will suck, NEVER, under any circumstance, use the passive voice, or your writing will be weak and we will mock you for all eternity.”

One can certainly overuse adverbs, but a simple, “Try not to use so many.” wouldn’t be dramatic enough. These “teachers” (read: dream killers) assume that their students can’t put a thought together, written well, without dozens of changes, because they can’t. It isn’t the student’s fault that their instructors aren’t talented and chose to be professors because McDonalds wouldn’t hire them with their snotty attitudes. Earnest Hemingway was known to rewrite 100 times and it didn’t help him. He is a dreadful writer. Seriously, have you read “A Farewell to Arms”? It’s pure rubbish. I’m not kidding, if you put rubbish in a centrifuge, flipped the switch and eliminated the impurities, you would have a novel by E.H. 

The passive voice, to me, has a different weight to it, a unique texture, and sometimes that is what I want…rules be damned.

So, no, I don’t play by the writing rules. I’m thankful that I went to school for economics and not writing. The lack of “education” in how it is supposed to be done, has helped me tremendously. I say go ahead, throw a big stinky handful of caution into a stiff breeze and write they way you want…unless you want to write like Hemingway…don’t do that.

Free Tibet  (Okay, I didn’t really know what to put there. I felt like there should be some sort of anti-writing-establishment battle cry, but there isn’t, so please assume that Tibet is where these terrible professors send their poor broken students.)


I loathe Hemingway. He wrote like he couldn't bear to finish his own sentences, so he clipped them as fanatically as he could. Hemingway reads like someone choking on several pints of clotted blood, page after page after page. I can picture him snarling at his typewriter, barking the words as he types. Taking a break to light a cigar which happens to be several times the size of his considerably large head, and maybe spear an elephant or two through the heart.


I don't like staccato prose, it gives me a headache. If all I wanted was a fast beat I'd stick to grindcore. 


Free Tibet!


Sometimes adverbs have a contribution to make, as do adjectives and the passive voice.  I do subscribe to an economy of words, but that's just me - except when blogging and commenting, and then I become very chatty.


Why are there so many monsters in the writers closet?

I just learned how to recognize the passive voice. Thank you. Man, I have some things to learn about writing.


Erin F.
Erin F.

If I'm editing someone's work, I like to focus on one thing at a time. It doesn't do any good to say, "This, this, and this are all wrong." I always try to find some good before focusing on areas that need more work (See how I didn't call it bad?).


The rules should be understood, so that they can be broken intentionally. (Passive enough for you?)


As long as the reader enjoys the story, what's the big deal? There are some extremes which you refer to, but to nail a writer to a stake for some minor bending of the rules is over the top.


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