Friday, September 28, 2007

Why Grammar and Style Matter

While I suspect that Jack Lynch may be unimpressed with my pedantry on this blog, he does have many good things to say about using language. It seems that several people have wandered by here looking for a reason to worry about grammar in their writing so I thought I’d offer more thoughts.

The above link takes you to his short entry on grace in your writing. I agree wholeheartedly with his point—that your ebb and flow are more important that strict adherence to rules. Nonetheless, knowing the rules helps you understand when to break them.

When you write dialogue, strict grammatical construction sounds stilted in the mouths of your characters. How you punctuate your dialogue, however, makes the difference between a clear flow between characters and a confused reader reconstructing the conversation to figure out who said what.

When asserting your creative right to play with language, keep those pesky grammar rules in mind. Make sure your grace doesn’t trump your clarity, to use Mr. Lynch’s terms. Rules of use and structure exist to help you use words to make your ideas clear to other people. Throwing those rules out of the window may make for a wilder time when writing but is likely to get the fruits of that labor thrown out of the reader’s window.




...Funny how I said this last Saturday over on Cuppa Caff. :-)

A note: grammar rules tend to be bent more than broken, or at least extrapolated.

But I agree wholeheartedly: please, please don't use "proper" grammar in dialogue! Ick!



P.S. Here's another freelance job list I've found:



Hey, thanks! I'll have to check that one out.

Jack Payne


Surprisingly, a lot of the folks who don't pay no 'tension to grammar are authors who whose books are put out by the big NYC publishing houses. This is supposed to be the "in" thing, maybe a cult thing or something. I don't know, but it's disturbing.
A year ago I read a novel with no quotes around the dialogue.

You're right, generally. You have to know the rules before you should risk breakiong them.