Most writers somewhere at the beginnings of their career took writing classes or attended workshops of some kind. Maybe those classes reached all the way back to high school or college courses, but at some point an instructor lectured us on all those things we needed to know to be a writer.
Some of you might not have used that knowledge immediately but when the time came you remembered those rules of grammar and punctuation and applied it to your writing projects. I admit to picking up a style book early in my writing endeavors because there were lots of things I didn't remember.
And I learned my English teachers had LIED to me. Some of those things they taught me are not rules. They're guidelines. But which ones? How about the rule about never starting a sentence with a conjunction? We do that all the time when we speak or think. Why not when we write?
I'm also going to boldly attack that rule about splitting infinitives. Even Star Trek does it so can it be wrong? We all know the sin of using adverbs in our writing but splitting infinitives with an adverb isn't committing a writing sin. It's a guideline that if followed may improve your writing by making it stronger. But if I can ever write a line as famous as 'to boldly go where no man had gone before,' I'll split that infinitive until the cows come home. (For you non-farmers out there, the cows usually head for home at dusk.)
Were you taught any 'rules' that you later found out were mere guidelines? Do you keep a style book on hand? Do you know when the cows come home?
Don't forget to visit the IWSG site today for some great writing advice. And take the time to visit Anne R. Allen's blog where she has Nathan Bransford guest posting this week. It's a very interesting post.