Normally, I don’t talk much about writing or rules. I don’t write (except in my blog) but I do work in the industry. And it has recently become fascinating to me how different people have different absolute “rules” for writing. I had the opportunity to see three people (in addition to the author and editor) do line edits on the same piece of work. Every one of those three was to do the basic line edits. Every one focused on something different.

Person #1: Strongly disliked all forms of dialogue tag and rewrote the author’s sentences to exclude dialogue tags (and very much intruded on author voice).

Person #2: Strongly disliked the use of “as he/as she” in sentences. They were targeting reaction before action (which is valid) but in doing so rewrote all of the author’s sentences to exclude these phrases (oops, author voice again).

Person #3: Strongly disliked any POV shift. At all. They didn’t intrude in author voice. Unless you count not wanting POV shifts an intrusion 😉

All of them saw the exact same piece of work, caught different technical errors, and not one commented on the same “rule” that the other targeted.

I’m wondering if this tells us anything about the subjective nature of writing and editing?

And I’m curious. Are there absolute rules for writing? And if your answer is yes, what are they?

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