Professional writers know that they’ve had to abandon various “school rules” to become successful. They’ve had to unlearn the untruths that seemingly all writers pick up along the way. (A prime example is the idea that you should never write a one-sentence paragraph.) A renegade writer rejects superstitions. The important thing is to know which “rules” to jettison and which ones to keep.
Only then can you write in a way that doesn’t waste time—not your reader’s, and not your own. If you develop that rare skill, you acquire something of considerable commercial and personal value.
We recommend three sources for unlearning the “school rules” that aren’t really rules at all—the false notions that will hinder you as a writer:
- Bryan A. Garner, Garner’s Modern English Usage 1057–61 (5th ed. 2022) (under “Superstitions”).
- John R. Trimble, Writing with Style 76–87 (3d ed. 2011) (in the chapter called “Superstitions”).
- H.W. Fowler, A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage 606–07 (Ernest Gowers ed., 2d ed. 1965) (under “Superstitions”).
Perhaps you know the relevant passages by heart already. If so, heartiest congratulations.