Okay, the above statement is not exactly "true", but hopefully I can explain what I mean. I've been thinking about all the rules were told to follow as writers. Team Member Michael Winchell did a post on this earlier in the month, about all the things were told are bad to do as writers and I have to say, while writing my first novel I threw all the rules out the window and not because I wanted to--I had to.
When we write a novel, the goal is to create an extraordinary world (realistic or fantasy), remarkable characters, and an unforgettable voice that draws readers in and keeps them wanting to know more, consequently turning every page of our novel until they get to the end and become very, very sad that our book is over and they have no more left to read.
For the above reason, I threw caution to the wind, killed my first (and second) draft of Nightshade City, and started fresh, this time with my voice and mine alone--and of course my rules. I threw out the notion that prologues should be avoided (yes, my book has one), that all adverbs are evil, to never use the word suddenly (still use that when I feel the need), and that "said" should be the only word used to carry dialogue (there are a few more that work quite nicely), among other steadfast rules.
Once I did that, I freed myself of doubt...all the doubt first time novelists have about writing and what they should and should not do, and the thought of being laughed at by agents and editors, as they all stand around the proverbial water cooler, snickering about the greenhorn writer who was ridiculous enough to send them a novel with a prologue--oh how gauche!
But guess what? That never happened. Not one agent said you've broken so many rules you are permanently banned from writing. And no one said, "Listen you silly, tacky girl--don't quit the day job." Shortly after I chucked those rules and wrote Nightshade City, my way, I started getting several requests from agents for more, which resulted in representation and lucky for me publication.
I guess in a nutshell, what I'm trying to say is writing without rules is a sure way to bring your true voice to the paper. And I'm NOT saying the rules don't matter. For obvious reasons, they do. You just need to write your book on your terms, with no set rules hanging over your head, impeding your thought process. Once you've done that, you can tighten up your manuscript and at that point you can give much thought to the rules you do want to follow or that do make sense for your story, but at the same time keeping your unique and original voice.
Of note, opening a book with the weather is a rule I do follow (at least for now), but this rule was broken by English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton who wrote Paul Clifford. "It was a dark and stormy night..." Clearly even breaking this rule worked for him. :)
xoxo -- Hilary