If you are planning to sell your writing, you need to remember that you are not a special snowflake. I know you’ve heard that a lot, but it’s important to understand it. It’s important to understand that you need to follow “the rules” you may have encountered regarding writing.
We all know that there are no real “rules.” There are exceptions for everything. However, I think a good rule of thumb is that these exceptions are for other people, not for you. In most cases I’ve seen, the rule breakers are already established. They get to break the rules because they followed them, got published, made money for a company, and now that company gives them latitude to break the rules.
These days, the rule breaker may also be self-published. If you are going to self-publish, you can do the same, but you better hope you really are talented, because most readers have little patience for rule breaking unless they already trust the writer.
And that’s the thing. Once you prove yourself, prove that you can tell a good story, readers and publishers will accept your rule breaking – as long as you continue to tell a good story.
I’m reminded of being at an art gallery with a very good friend of mine who studied art history. I questioned him about modern art, art I could not understand. He explained to me how the artist had made a name for himself with the kind of art I would recognize, and then expanded into the more abstract, modern stuff. The artist proved he had talent, and then he could get away with breaking the rules.
The rules exist as a hurdle, a hurdle you need to clear if you want to sell your short story to a magazine or collection, or to get a publisher or agent to look at your novel. If you are an amazing talent, this might not apply to you, but it’s a good bet it does.
Prove you are a professional before you reveal you are a special snowflake.