There are several “rules” for writing that seem to come out of the woodwork when you’re a novice novelist. Mistakes that we’ve all made time and again, only to realize later that we were totally living a cliche.
Some of these rules are obvious—For the love of God, never start a novel with your main character waking up!—others, not so much.
And how they come to be learned by said writer varies greatly as well. They might come to light in an MFA class, a Q&A with a writer you love, or even in a series of tweets or blog post from a literary agent or editor.
In any case, no matter how it’s learned, there’s one rule that is right up there with the “waking up” start in the no-no department: the protagonist chancing across a mirror and describing his or her own reflection.
It’s tempting. Oh, so tempting, to describe a lead character this way. Especially in a first-person novel.
And it’s been done in printed work—sure it has—or, like the wake-up call intro, it wouldn’t be so tired. So cliche.
But, at some point, we all learn never to do this. Ever.
What’s the biggest literary “rule” you’ve broken—and how did you fix it (if at all)?