The Can’t’s, Shan’t’s and Mustn’t’s of Writing

Read the title to this blog entry. I have a hard time not heeding them, yet the anarchist in me automatically wants to be defiant.

Back in Art School, the professors said never to use black. What did I do? Bought a shit-ton of Mars Black paint. Couldn’t help myself! True, after a while, I learned that mixing your own black does indeed make for a better, richer painting, but I had to bite of the Forbidden Fruit.

All across Twitter, I see warnings, shibboleths, firm advice and critique of style. When I strip these articles down to their bare essentials, I can only read matters-of-taste, pet peeves, and anal-retentive obsessions owned by that particular author.

Yes, some of these peccadilloes they pray you avoid can indeed be trite. For instance, describing your protagonist through a mirror scene. Shoot, my novel has a whopping count of three mirror scenes! Don’t give a fuck.

I impart the wisdom that you, the writer, do take these opinions (and they’re only opinions) to heart for about three minutes before you transgress, but frankly, I say use them if you want. But use them intelligently. Make fun of it! Subvert them! Hell, invert them! There is nothing like meta-referencing bad writing in your book as it makes for fine irony and ultimately, comedy.

Writers are artists. Be artful if you want to delve into the realm of the hackneyed.

Oh, and for God’s Sake! Good literature is not Queen’s Diction! I’d rather watch earthworms screw than read such light bulb-polishing tripe!


Here’s the lynchpin to any novel, and author David Van Dyke blogged it best: BE ENTERTAINING!

You can read about it here:

Have a good day, folks and keep writing as you like it!

NB: As to the title of my blog, I have scoured Google and the Illinois Blue Book for the rule of writing plural contractions. Could not find it. So, I went with the rule of If’s, and’s or but’s, hence the two apostrophes.


8 Responses to “The Can’t’s, Shan’t’s and Mustn’t’s of Writing”

  1. For some reason I can’t ‘Like’ this, so I’m leaving a like here! Great piece and I completely agree!

  2. Great post, Mark! Just tweeted and FB’d it!

    Cheers and talk soon 🙂

  3. Just have to add: it’s so nice to find a fellow independent thinker and wise Alec. 😉
    I like to think about the rules and do’s/dont’s as something to master, so you can later throw them out the window to create something totally new and original. But rules first have o be mastered so they can be thrown out intelligently and so the proverbial baby is not thrown out together with the bath water… Like Picasso, you know.
    Also, as to the advice by various “gurus” – it’s so true that when you look beneath the surface, it’s their own issues and insecurities talking.

    Love your black paint example – sounds like something I’d do in this situation, Mr. Maverick!


  4. Ha! I love the picture of the queen. Wouldn’t want to be the reason for that scowl, would you!

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