Newton’s Laws of Motion and Writing

In his third law of motion, Isaac Newton said that when two bodies interact, the forces are equal in force and in the opposite direction. Sort of reminds me of the “rules of writing.”  Okay, so just about everything reminds me of some aspect of writing.

As for Newton’s law, it seems that for every “rule,” someone comes up with, someone else feels just the opposite. For instance, take head hopping. There are some purists out there who say that there should be one, and only one, point of view per scene. Some have gone so far as to prefer just one POV (point of view) per chapter, or even for the whole book. This might not be such a bad “rule,” so long as writers realize that the only consequence of breaking it is, hmmm, well, maybe there aren’t any consequences–if you do it well. That is, that you don’t confuse the reader, that we always know whose POV we are in. Even if you switch in the middle of a paragraph, it should be clear to any reader right away that you have switched and whose POV view we are in. Unless, of course, someone comes up with a story in which confusing the reader with POV and head hopping furthers the story. Sigh.

Another “rule” of writing is to always use correct grammar. I’m rather fond of this one. Then we get a story like “Flowers for Algernon” or “Archy and Mehitabel” where poor grammar and punctuation are used to further the story. Or if we want to show that a character is uneducated, we might use poor grammar in their conversation.

Maybe the only real “rule” for writing is to write. Or maybe the “rules” of writing are like roads. If you follow them, you get where you want to go. But maybe breaking a rule or two will get you where you want to go? Remember what Doc Brown says at the end of Back to the Future? That where we’re going we don’t need roads!

What “rule” of writing have you broken? Why? What “rule” have you seen other writers break that made their story better?

This entry was posted in Writing tips. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Newton’s Laws of Motion and Writing

  1. In one of my earliest critiques of Time’s Enemy, a critiquer said: “But you **can’t** have your hero married to someone else in a romance!” The next meeting, she’d read the next chapter and saw how his time travel had changed and affected his marriage (and that it had ended) and said, “You know, this totally works!”

  2. C.D. Hersh says:

    I can’t say what rules I/we might have broken, but I can tell you that headhopping drives me nuts! If I have to read a passage twice to figure out whose thoughts I’m reading (and most of the time I do), then it’s not done well.
    As for Jennette’s hero in Time’s Fugitive being married to someone else, it didn’t bother me one bit. I thought she clearly mapped out who the true love was.