Today, an article was posted on MythicScribes.com. In it, Tristan Gregory wrote that it was perfectly fine for a writer to break the rules, so long as he or she knew the rules first.
I really liked this article, and I agree with it. But I wanted to add a comment to it: namely, how should a writer learn the rules in the first place? It’s simple: write and read.
First: write. Write a story in first person. Write a story in third person limited. Write a story in third present omnipresent. Ever written a flashback? Ever written a fight scene? A sex scene? Have a crazy idea? Great! Try it out. Try it out over and over again. See what kind of response you get. The only way you will understand your strengths and weaknesses is by testing yourself. Learn what rules you really understand and those that you are a bit shaky on.
Then, once you have a better idea of what you stink at, do some research and find out who does it well, especially if they are outside your genre. Read them for fun. Then read them again with a writer’s eye. How do they do what they do? And if you want to go the extra mile, read someone who does it badly and see if you can figure out why.
Yes, this sounds like hard work. But that sort of effort and focus will produce results. That focus will translate to making sure each word, sentence, paragraph, and chapter shine. And you’ll be free to write however you please, because you will know why you’re writing the way you do.