I write fantasy novels. Just writing in that genre comes with a lot of baggage. Rules, tropes, norms, expectations, are all a part of it. It’s near impossible to look at my writing and not compare it to those that came before, that inspired me. To scour and examine to see if my books are conforming to these unwritten rules. When I begin to worry about this, a quote by Doris Lessing puts me at ease.
“There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.”
Writing is a creative endeavour. You can do anything, write anything. Yet as human beings we seem to crave structure, rules to stick to, to follow. These can be as mundane as the acceptable number of viewpoint characters or varying sentence structures. Yet perhaps, to think this way is to miss the point of the exercise.
Limitations can be useful but they should not be absolute. Libraries are full of books that people would have thought shouldn’t be. Books that broke some rules or went against the grain. Yet the world would be a poorer place had they not been written.
The internet is rife with advice for new writers. Tips and rules for what you should and shouldn’t do. All is well meaning and useful but can be overwhelming. Especially when taken as a the word of law. Thus, Lessing’s words should be kept in mind. There are no laws, no absolute rules to what you should and shouldn’t write. To keep yourself shackled, constrained, does yourself and the world a disservice. After all, rules are made to be broken.
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