I don’t like the technical side of writing. I know the basics: punctuation, forms of be, run-on sentences and most importantly, when to break the rules.
Now, I know there are purists out there who will poo-poo all this, but give me a chance. Some believe that creative energy in writing cannot be limited by the rules of grammar.
Yes, a perfect English sentence can be constructed using those rules, but will it be beautiful? Will it sound lyric?
Bob had a dog. The dog ran into the yard.
If I had a nickle, I would buy a paper.
The ten-year-old lasagna in your refrigerator smells disgusting.
It’s not that they can’t sound lyrical, or beautiful. Noetic possibilities abound.
Word choice determines the sound of a sentence. Can we have both? A beautiful and grammatically correct sentence?
Most of the time, we can. But there’s (there is) the idea dangling in front of us, that says it’s impossible to be creative within the limits of the English language.
This is where craft steps in. Using the tools of the language, as you would a paintbrush or trowel, you
construct the piece you are working on. Those tools are the vocabulary and structure of the language.
We can break the rules, but those rules should be known first. We cannot all be Saramago.
Despite this, I also believe it’s necessary for a writer to write, even if they do not have a grasp on the
fundamentals of English grammar. Continual use of the language, I believe, will eventually inspire one to look at those rules. However, I don’t believe every writer needs to publish or subject others to their ill use of the language. Some things are not meant to read.
I break the rules. I use fragmented and run-on sentences at times. I love contractions. I use passive language (Oh my!).
But most often, readers do understand the point or message I attempt to convey. Which brings us back to the reason for this post.
The purpose of writing, is to communicate. We are sending a message to our readers. But, if those readers don’t understand what you’re attempting to convey, you have not done your job correctly. If the reader stops reading, because your material is structurally difficult to get through, again, you have not done your job.
Read: communication is not in the eye of the beholder. Beauty may be, but messages are not.
If the beholder has no idea what you are trying to say, but thinks what you have written is a bunch of pretty words, well, great. Still, there doesn’t seem to be much of a point. Stringing pretty words together, regardless of individual meaning, is as useful as stating, ‘I is educated.’
I will not argue for perfect grammar in writing, because I don’t believe it’s necessary for storytelling. What I will argue for however, is the use of story and language structure.
We can go all creative, break the rules, make insane statements, divorce ourselves from logic, but in the end it comes to this: if you are a writer attempting to convey a story, but your reader does not understand or finds your story difficult to read, you have probably lost that reader. They won’t come back for more.
- A message from a Grammar Nazi (vamers.com)