In my last Writing Mistakes post, I talked about the importance of following the rules of grammar and punctuation in order to make your writing good. This week, I’m going to advise you to break a few of the rules.

Everyone knows that you have to follow the rules of grammar and punctuation in order to write well, but sometimes following the rules too closely leaves you with dry, boring writing.

If everyone followed the same style of writing, every book would be samey. There would never be anything original, as everyone would follow the same general structure and formula for writing.

A good writer follows the advice below:

“Learn the rules of good writing… then learn when and how to break them.”

Essentially, you need to know how to do things right first, and then you can fiddle around a bit.

For example, if you read the Prince of Thorns series by Mark Lawrence, you’ll find that he uses fragments A LOT. On the other hand, flip through any Dave Barry book, and you’ll come across sentences that occupy entire paragraphs. These sentences aren’t technically grammatically correct, but they set these writers’ writing styles apart from the others.

When writing, try to find your own unique voice. Don’t copy the grammar and style of other writers, no matter how awesome those writers are. Use their writing style to help you find your voice, or to discover, “Hey, I like it when this writer breaks that rule of grammar. Let’s see if I can do the same.”

Break just one small rule, but try to break it consistently. Make the rest of your writing 100% grammatically correct, but let that one broken rule set your writing style apart from everyone else.

IMPORTANT: THIS IS WHERE BETA READERS COME IN HANDY. They’ll read over your writing and give you feedback on how that “one broken rule” sounds. If they like it, you’ve found your writing style. If it throws them off or doesn’t work for them, try again!