|Amber Michelle Cook
Be wary of them, at least. Rules offer reassurance to someone new, or someone looking for a guarantee of success. They are convenient for someone who wants to be seen as an expert, people who confuse their personal taste in writing with whether something is good or not, or someone trying to sell you something – like their book, their system, their hundreds of dollars workshop.
Everywhere you go in the writing world you'll be bombarded with rules of writing. There are places with endless lists of famous writers and their rules of writing. Those rules are bandied about on forums as if divine words rivaling the Ten Commandments. Member of writers and critique groups will tell you what you've written and how you've written your story are wrong, based on what someone else they held as an authority once told them was right. Go to Amazon and in the search box type in 'writing' in the book section and be prepared for a vast and dizzying array of titles to come up, containing hundreds of books filled with writing rules.
The writing world can be cannibalistic. There are so many people trying to make a living from writing, and so few can, that many turn to profiting off of the needs and desperation of new and unpublished writers to make their money. Teaching is an honorable tradition. Selling you a patented system with follow-my-rules and you'll be a success – that really only sets you up to slavishly follow a set of ideas without the flexibility and awareness to establish your own voice and your own style – may be something of a crime. And someone in authority getting an ego fix by telling people their writing doesn't work because they don't like it and because they have the personality to speak with confidence and clarity, is unavoidable in this business.
Be open to learning, but cautious about who you choose to learn from, and trust yourself as much as what you hear professionals say.