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Last year I did a writing quote every Monday. This year I’m considering a weekly writing tip. What do you think?

Here’s the first:

Learn the rules well. Then you can break them.

And for your sharing convenience, here’s a picture.

I do feel this should have a bit of explanation though… Rules are great things to have in all walks of life, not just driving or for your children to obey. Rules are given to drivers for the safety and respect of other drivers on the road. Rules are given to your children to instill in them proper behavior for the sake of other people in the world. Rules in writing exist because, like drivers and people, readers have certain expectations of the written word.

The written word is slow to change, and messing too much with the “rules” can confuse your reader and ultimately ostracize them. Until you know what point of view is, you can’t experiment with it, and if you try, you’ll lose a lot of readers due to confusion.

Likewise with punctuation, when you’re a child, you don’t know the first thing about a comma’s purpose. But what you do know is that certain spots in sentences deserve a bit of a break before moving to the next part of the sentence.

A writer who doesn’t know how to properly use commas may throw a comma in without much thought, or omit them in their haste to write the sentence. But reading it aloud can show you where you’ve gone wrong and where a comma is needed. Yet there are exceptions to proper punctuation! Yes, there are. If you’re suggesting that your character is speaking breathlessly, omit the commas that would ordinarily be there, and you have a sentence that comes off as rushed because there’s no space to breathe. But you can’t knowingly do that unless you understand the purpose and proper placement of a comma first.

What rules do you like to break?