Good writers break rules all the time. The trick is doing it so well that the sin becomes a virtue.
But there's one commandment that must never be broken. Ever. To commit this sin is to languish in Remainder Purgatory or burn in the humiliation of Rejection Letter Hell.
It's not opening with a dream, or using flashbacks, or telling instead of showing. It's not talking to the reader. It's not beginning the story on page 53 instead of page 1. It's not head-hopping, or embellishing with purple prose, or aliens beaming down in Chapter 14, surprising everyone including yourself.
Well, what is it? (you ask impatiently)
Author Jo Bourne, in her April 30th post on openings, tells you what it is.
A bored reader will put away the book and not pick it up again. A bored reader will not recommend the book to her friends. A bored editor will not offer a contract. A bored agent will not finish the manuscript.
Don't be boring, ever.
If what you're writing doesn't keep you on the edge of your seat for the sheer thrill of watching the secrets unfold under your feverish fingers, then how is it going to enthrall the reader?
Over and over on writing discussion boards, I see questions similar to, "How do I motivate myself to write the boring parts between the exciting stuff?"
And my answer is: It had better all be exciting stuff. And if it's not, you motivate yourself by making it exciting.
That doesn't mean turning a quiet dinnertime scene between Martha and Frank into a pyrotechnics extravaganza in which the house unexpectedly blows up, killing Frank and spoiling the roast (though of course you could do that if it fit the circumstances); what it does mean is to find the heart of the conflict in that dinnertime scene and make it fascinating enough that the reader must know what happens next. When you don't have inherently dramatic action to write about, make the ordinary sizzle with intrigue. If Martha and Frank must, by necessity, discuss the weather and Martha's day with the kids, ramp up the tension by use of internals and subtext.
If the scene doesn't have internals and subtext, it doesn't belong. Find a way to make it fascinating, or leave it out.
Or as Elmore Leonard has famously said (in paraphrase): Don't write the parts that readers skip.