Wednesday, September 7, 2011

When Rules are Meant to Be Broken:
The List

It's Writer Wednesday and today I'm giving you a little taste of the future. (I bet you didn't know I had that power, but shh, don't spread it around.) Tomorrow, I'm guest blogging over at Yelena Casale's neck of the woods. She's my dear friend and writing partner, and a bit green in the blogging arena, but she's fast getting the hang of it. Please show the love tomorrow by visiting HERE.
In the mean time, let's jump into some Rules Meant to Be Broken:

RULE 1: Pitches should be less than 50 words.
An in person pitch needs to be as many words as it needs to be. I like to keep it at least under two minutes, preferably under one minute and about three to five sentences long. But, that's my opinion. If you need to do something else to get your story across, then do it. Just be sure to leave time for the agent or editor to ask questions, and don't ramble. You can get more advice - not rules - about pitches HERE.

RULE 2: Query letters should be no more than 250 words.
I don't care how many words it is as long as it fits on one page (yes, that's a rule that holds true). Since a query is single spaced, it means you can fit more than 250 words on one page. Again, I believe shorter is better. Get in, hook the reader, and get out. But, the truth is some stories do well with longer letters. Do what works for your story.

RULE 3: Beta readers and critique partners should be published authors.
I heard this one from some poor dolt - who shall remain nameless - that the only way to make the story better was to have published authors look at it. *Sigh* Your readers are not all going to be published authors. Your target audience will more than likely be your average, non-writer. So, should you have experienced writers read your work? Yes. But, do they ALL need to be published authors? No way. My beta readers are unpublished authors, readers in my genre, and a librarian. Experienced READERS as well as top notch writers.

In short, if you're in doubt, do what works for you and your story. Know the rules, but know when to break them.

What do you all think? What are some "writing rules" that you'd like to see broken?

And don't forget to check out more on Thursday at Yelena's blog.


  1. I can't think of any right now, but I'm sure if I had more time, I'd come up with at least a dozen. I look forward to hopping over to Yelena's tomorrow.

  2. Great I agree. And loved the one on cps

  3. These are excellent, I agree on all points! If one can't sum up their story briefly then an agent is likely to lose interest. I learned that one the hard way. As for #3, you're absolutely right, most of our readers won't be published authors so our betas and crit partners shouldn't all be either! People break the rules all the time and I think that's a good thing, as long as it works and the novel is fantastic.

  4. Having readers who are pure readers, and not writers themselves, is so valuable because they focus on what matters to them the most -- story. Sometimes, writers, whether published or unpublished, can lose sight of story by focusing on the rules and the craft.