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For every rule, there is a reason to break it. Granted, breaking the rules takes more work, because the writer has to do everything right. Here are times where famous authors broke the rules and why it worked for them.
(Sure glad I wrote this ahead of time for once. I spent the last two days without a computer, because it decided to throw a tantrum. I barely survived!)
Don’t have a Prologue
JK Rowling starts with a prologue, even if it’s called chapter one. It works because it’s the hook. Can you imagine Harry Potter without chapter one? The reader wouldn’t know anything about the magical world, or that Harry is special. It would just start with Harry’s miserable life with his Aunt and Uncle. We keep reading, because we want to find out how Harry’s life will change, because we know it will.
Don’t describe your character in a mirror
Veronica Roth described her character in a mirror in Divergent, but it worked for her because of why she did it. Beatrice has rarely seen herself in a mirror, so she would be interested in what she looks like. It also shows what the world is like and is an opportunity to show character growth the next time Beatrice sees her reflection. (I’m trying not to spoil the story.)
Don’t use flashbacks
Suzanne Collins uses flashbacks effectively in the Hunger Games. This is because the reader always knows when we’re in a flashback and it’s something the character is thinking about. She doesn’t tell us about what happened, but takes us back to the scene and shows us. The flashbacks are important to the story to show how the characters met. Her story wouldn’t be nearly as powerful if we didn’t feel what it was like for Katniss in the past.
Don’t break the fourth wall (make your characters know the reader is reading a book)
Rick Riordan does this in Percy Jackson. It’s his way of showing voice and introducing comedy. It doesn’t take you out of the story and is easily ignorable, because he doesn’t do it often. It also lets him just say, “I’m Percy Jackson, 12 year old half-blood”. (Well not exactly, but close enough.)
I debated mentioning how Stephenie Meyer uses verbs other than said and adverbs to modify said, but since I’ve never read Twilight, (too much romance for me) I don’t know why it worked for her.
Some authors get away with things others can’t pull off. They are rules for a reason, so before breaking them, ask yourself why you’re breaking the rules.
I’m on a young adult reading kick, hence the examples. 😉
Do you break any of the rules?
I’m on the verge of breaking a few. At the beginning, my character gets knocked out a couple of times, but it’s for story development, (overuse of magic) not to transport her someplace different mysteriously.