Creative writing is what it is: creative. And what that means to me is that there are no rules, except there are actually many.
Make a List of Creative Writing Rules
Stop for a minute, if you wish, and make a list of all of the creative writing rules you can think up. How many on your list? What are they? Where did you learn these rules? Which ones do you follow, and are there any that you deliberately break?
My Creative Writing Rules
Here are the first three rules that came to my mind when I asked myself this question:
- Every story must have a beginning, a middle, and an end.
- Every character must have a complete bio (if you don’t know your characters, how can you write about them?)
- Every story should start with a conflict.
And I could keep going.
Queen of the Writing Rules Hands Over Her Tiara
I’m the queen of process at work. I keep detailed notes, I’ve created style guides in former lives, and I’m good at following them. I’m not the very best editor that I know (I know lots of very smart people) but I know how to reference a style guide. But that’s for writing non-fiction.
I think it’s time for Fiction to have a new Story. (Yes, I just broke some writing rules with odd capitalization in the prior sentence.)
The new Story is that it’s okay to write something creative that is only a beginning, middle or end. It’s also okay to write the ending or to write about characters who you know nothing about–yes, I’m granting myself the freedom to not take my characters out for a blood test before they appear on the page.
As part of my self-expression, I’m going to start writing the stories that start in my mind but don’t have a clear end. In the creativity that is called life, you don’t always have to know the end before showing up at the starting line.
Journal, If You Wish
Choose a writing rule, and break it. It can be a big one or a small one. Join me in writing story beginnings, middles, or ends that exist on their own and characters who you haven’t background checked.