Monday, September 6, 2021

In Publishing, Rules Are Not Always Fixed

 I was out in the garage cleaning yesterday when I stumbled across a tote bag with a message I totally love. 

"I" before "E"

Except after "C"

WEIRD huh?

This is just something to think about. As you attend workshops, read craft books, visit blogs like mine, or talk to your critique partners, remember that the "rules you need to follow to be successful" are merely guidelines. 

I always find it funny that as an English major, I am always having authors tell me about grammar rules. One in particular always shows up about writing in passive vs. active voice. Writers are always telling other writers (and me every now and then) that you SHOULD NEVER write in passive voice. The reality is that we often do write in passive, we speak in passive and sometimes, due to the fluency of the writing, it is the only way to do it. 

We see rules all of the time about how to write a query letter. Again, there are no fixed rules other than be professional, communicate the story properly and submit to the guidelines of the editor or agent.

Now, with that said, is this a free-for-all when it comes to publishing? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Remember the statement I said in the last paragraph. Be professional. This is a business. Treat it as such. Along the same lines, don't try to do things your way because following the submission guidelines is tough. 

Just a small thought for a Monday!


  1. Always enjoy your posts. And, yes, it IS "weird". That gave me a good laugh.

  2. So, on the subject of grammar rules: I am still haunted by some rules that were pounded into me when I first wanted to develop any writing skills that I might have. 1. Do not use more than 3 "was" in any one paragraph or your writing is too passive and agents/editors will know you are an amateur. Automatic pass. 2. Never start two adjacent paragraphs with the same first word. Visually it looks bad on paper. Another automatic pass. 3. No "ing" words and no exclamation points. A few "ing" words minimally sprinkled throughout a manuscript might be acceptable, but exclamation points are never used. A definite automatic pass. (I'm still not sure about the reason for this last rule.)

    So, coward that I am, I have been afraid to ask anyone if these rules are really valid, ever valid, still valid? And why? (I didn't want to splash my ignorance around for all to see because when I questioned why the word "said" is the only right word to use for an utterance in dialogue, I ended up eight shades of red and looking for a closet.)

    Personally, I can understand the unacceptability of word overuse and redundancy, but it seems a crime to shun certain perfectly wonderful words and some exciting punctuation points because they are not what....popular??? Thank-you for any guidance you can give in this matter. And thank-you for this blog.