Rules Suck: Convention Breaking, Boggish Complaints, Boxed-In Writing & Douchebag Characters-Ep.49

A tangent episode in which Kaisha and Kelsey rage against the rules of writing. Come along as we discuss breaking the rules, and what you need to think about before you do. We chat about rogue authors who wrote outside the box and broke convention. Kelsey talks about how limiting and creativity-crushing some of the conventions can be. We revel in some fabulous advice from Colson Whitehead and many others.

Welcome to Read.Write.Repeat.

September’s giveaway is Kelsey’s favorite recent read, Her Body and Other Parties, by Carmen Maria Machado. Find out how to enter at the end of the show notes.

Our totally awesome intro was created by Mike Fraedrich. You can find more from Mike at & The first one points to his Twitter, the second his music. Thanks, Mike!!

Listeners weigh in:

What writing rules do you love or hate?

Let us know in the comments section below, or by tagging us on social media! Your response might be featured in an upcoming show and you will be entered into our monthly giveaway!

Books, quirks, and intrigues, oh my!

  • A few great articles on breaking the rules:
  • Show don’t tell
    • Great examples of this from Max Winters:
    • “Point being, sometimes it’s simply more efficient and, indeed, more interesting—especially if the point itself is nuanced and complex and multivalent—just to come out and say it: “‘She would of been a good woman,’ the Misfit said, ‘if it had been someone there to shoot her every minute of her life.’” Or, “I am an invisible man,” a short, direct statement so endlessly complex that it takes every last one of the book’s nearly 600 pages to get us to the point where we “almost have it.” Or, hell, how about, “To be, or not be?” Point being, as often as not—and not for nothing—these are the lines that eventually become quotes.”
    • All of Anthony Trollope
  • Your main character must be “likable”
    • Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights
    • Rebecca
    • Madame Bovary
    • Just about every character in Kafka’s Metamorphosis
  • Write what you know
  • Don’t use adverbs
  • Be concise
  • Some of the weird rules the eyebrows guy gave Kelsey:
    • Never start a sentence with a gerund. In fact, don’t use them at all.
    • Absolutely no adverbs. ever.
    • Avoid the word then at all costs.
    • Avoid the word as at all costs.
    • Don’t use purple prose. (This is our next tangent!!)
  • A great bit of advice from Colson Whitehead:
    • “Rule No. 11: There are no rules. If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too? No. There are no rules except the ones you learned during your Show and Tell days. Have fun. If they don’t want to be friends with you, they’re not worth being friends with. Most of all, just be yourself.”

Connect and Win!!

That brings us to the end of yet another read.write.repeat episode! We have to give a big shout out to this month’s guests, Kac Young, Mark Engels and David Michael Williams, and always, a huge thanks to Mike Fraedrich for out intro music. You can find links to all of these lovely people in our show notes.

Listeners, thanks so much for giving us your time. We’d love to hear from you and doing so enters you in our monthly giveaway.

September’s giveaway is Kelsey’s favorite recent read, Her Body and Other Parties, by Carmen Maria Machado. To enter, simply follow us and tag us in a bookish photo or comment on Instagram (@readwriterepeat_podcast), Twitter (@therwrpodcast), or Facebook (@readwriterepeatpod), or leave us a comment on our show notes or one of our posts on any of our social media platforms! A winner will be drawn at random in October.

If you love us, be sure to rate us and leave a review on iTunes, SoundCloud, or your preferred listening platform, so that others can find us.

If anything sparked an idea for you, or you have thoughts about what we should discuss next, Let us know. You can find ways to connect with us on our website,

Don’t forget to check out all the links and bookish goodness in our show notes.

Until next time, may your life be overflowing with all the books.

Connect with us:

Thanks for listening to Read.Write.Repeat! Talk with you next time!

Photo by Arnold Leow on Unsplash

Episode Cover