In service

I know I made a semi-vow sometime back that I would stop ranting on this humble blog about the so-called “rules” of grammar and writing and how many newbie or timid writers insist they must be adhered to strictly, but . . .

On another blog I made an observation in the comments about the matter. My comment crystallized my views pretty well, so I thought I would repeat it here:

A question every writer must ask is are the rules in service to your story, or is your story in service to the rules?

In my view, the needs of the storytelling trump any rules of grammar or usage or even spelling and punctuation. Do you want to use sentence fragments to, say, heighten the tension or show the disjointed state of a character’s mind? Will neologisms or “creative” grammar better suit the narrative voice you have selected? Do you want to write a long, convoluted sentence (I’m thinking of John Banville or William Faulkner) just for the sheer elegance of it?

There are plenty of times when the rules get in the way of good writing, and the careful writer must be aware of this and be free to depart when necessary.

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