When it comes to writing, there are a lot of rules. Always use complete sentences. Never use passive voice. Avoid cliches like the plague. Run-on sentences are not allowed. Cut your usage of the word "was." Eliminate filter words. And on, and on, and on.
Most of the time, following all the writing "rules" is the right choice. But every now and then, you'll find that breaking these style rules is the better choice.
For example, I've seen writers contort their sentences into thesaurus pretzels in their efforts to avoid using "was." The strange phrasing or bizarre word choice draws attention to the sentence and pulls the reader out of the narrative. Every now and then, the simple, neutral "was" construction is the better choice.
Or take sentence fragments. A well-placed sentence fragment in a sequence of high-intensity action or emotion can pack a serious emotional punch, hitting the reader right in the gut. When we feel something strongly in real life, we often struggle to put it into words. Using fragments or run-ons can reflect that awkwardness in language, mirroring the real human experience.
Please note that I'm not advising breaking rules about word count, genre, punctuation, or following agency guidelines. I'm only suggesting that rules about writing style aren't carved in stone. They'll hold true most of the time, but every now and then you'll find a place where it's more effective to break the rule than to keep it.
Every Wednesday and Saturday we bring you an edit tip of the day. Be sure to check out the archives for our popular summer series of SHOW DON'T TELL workshops!