The writing rule no one talks about
I’m about to violate one of the great commandments of writing: I’m starting revisions on a piece I finished writing yesterday. Conventional wisdom says that you’re supposed to let it sit a while, as much as six weeks, maybe more, before you revise. I’ve tried that and I wind up starting out to revise the stupid thing and end up writing another first draft.
Each first draft gets successively better, but I’m sort of tired of rewriting the same story over and over again. That’s not revision. It doesn’t get me closer to the end of working on this piece and the beginning of trying to sell it. So I figured I’d jump back in and start revising immediately. (I did, too. I took a break to work out and eat lunch, then I did some revising.)
I think it’s going to work. I have a list of things I want to get done in this draft, adjustments to make. I want to stress a specific aspect of one character. Another character was largely left out of the latest first draft and I want her to be more involved. And though first chapter is good, it doesn’t introduce one of the main characters as likable, which is important.
So I’m diving back in, even though I’m not supposed to.
And that’s because with every rule of writing, there’s another, higher rule that no one talks about much. It’s the key to when and how to apply any other writing rule you might stumble upon.
Here it is…are you ready?
Unless it works. (Or, depending on how the rule is phrased, unless it doesn’t work.)
If you find a rule that seems like it’s not right for you, try ignoring it. See if your way works. If it works, keep with it. If it doesn’t work, do it the way the rules people would have you do it. There’s nothing to be lost by trying.
What rule do you tend to ignore?