Don’t have a prologue, don’t use ‘ing’ words, don’t use adverbs, don’t use ‘was’ or ‘were,’ don’t use that, when, once or as—don’t, don’t don’t… Grr. How many writers out there have heard one or more of these? Just about every writing group I’ve been involved with has said all of the above, especially about never having a prologue. I have stories with prologues—published ones. Breaking that rule didn’t seem to hurt me. With all the restrictions, how is a writer supposed to be creative?
It can be stifling to have to follow a bunch of rigid rules. It can also take the feeling out of your story. These words are around for a reason. The key is knowing when to use them and not to overuse. Some stories need a prologue. You do what is right for your story.
Here’s my advice:
Learn the rules but write what feels right and use balance—don’t do too much of one thing. Balance is the key to a well-written story.
I’ve discovered that worrying about the rules too much can take the feeling out of my writing. This is especially true while writing the first draft. In fact, I think some of my earlier writing is better because I wrote more from the heart and worried less about rules. Let it go and let the words flow. Worry about revisions later.
But letting go can be the hardest part. Just take a deep breath and go for it. And don’t ever let anyone tell you that it’s wrong to use any of the above taboo words or techniques.
Kelley Heckart, Historical fantasy romance author