Linda Maye Adams

Rule R: writing Rules are not set in stone

Linda’s Rules of Writing

A sheriff armed with a rifle stands ready in an Old West town

You have until sundown to stop breaking the rules.

We’re onto the letter R in Linda’s Rules of Writing for the A to Z Challenge.  What better letter for the Rulz themselves?

You’ve probably seen it.  A writer posts for critique or asks a question like “Can I use a dream sequence?” or “Can I have a flashback?”

The other writers trot out their imaginary rule book and say, “No.  You can’t do that.  It’s against the rules.”

Like there’s a rules police who will come after you to run you out of town for doing something against the rules.

Seriously, if the writing is done well, that’s all that should count.

Right now, I’m breaking the rule of following a 3-Act Structure.  Instead, I am ignoring it and doing something else that works for me.  What “rules” have you broken and why did you break them?

Check out my short story “Six Bullets,” which is in the Forward Motion Anthology A Princess, A Boatman, and A Lizard. Six Bullets is about a princess who enlists in the military and has to battle her way upriver. It breaks one of the traditional “rules” you hear about — opens with a character waking up. I didn’t even think about that when I wrote it because being in the military means that your sleep is going to get interrupted for guard duty, gunfire, or inspection.

Caption: A to Z Challenge


  1. Sue

    why aren’t you supposed to start a story with someone waking up??
    There’s all sorts of rules for writing many of which can be broken but in screen writing if you don’t stick to the rules you won’t have a good script. By the way your 3 act structure is actually 4 acts according to my instructor because act 2 gets broken off. In my WIP I’m breaking the rule of consecutive incidents. My story goes back and forth in time


  2. The “waking up” turns up on every agent’s top “Don’t” list, Sue, mainly because a lot of writers use it as a false sense of excitement.


  3. I don’t think rules should be applied universally. What works best for a particular story will vary.




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