I once heard a quote by the Dalai Lama that went like this: “Learn the rules so you can break them.” As a self-proclaimed rule follower, I was immediately intrigued. And I found that it makes perfect sense.
Clearly, we have all read books that break the rules. Books that are full of incomplete sentences and missing commas (like this one!) Books with words written entirely in CAPITAL letters and repetitive language. All traditionally bad habits that I try to correct in my writing classes. Obviously, this can be confusing message for aspiring writers. Why is it okay for a famous author to break rules that our students cannot?
I always tell my students that once they can follow the conventional rules of writing and apply proper skills, then we can move on to developing their unique style which may include breaking some rules to create impact and power. Essentially: they need to know the rules before they can break them.
Thank you, Dalai Lama.