bad grammar at work

You may remember the post I did some time back about the percentage of sentence fragments in my recently published story “The Lonely Road.” I determined that nearly a quarter of that story was ungrammatical.

Of course I had to do it with “Open Country: an allegory” too. I made a rough count last night (whilst drinking a semi-sweet red wine, so don’t hold me to the numbers). My violations weren’t as serious as in the first story. I counted 108 sentences and 9 fragments in the latter story. Once again, I counted fragments that were dialog to be whole sentences, so once again, it could have been worse.

The editors didn’t blanch a moment over my many violations. Makes me wonder whose advice I should listen to and whose to ignore.

Okay, my rant is over.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Humble efforts, short stories

4 Comments on “bad grammar at work”

  1. Averil Dean Says:

    Well, there are creative violations and then there are screw-ups. My guess is that yours are the former, and that they work, and that you should maybe not drink wine before combing your story for slips of grammar.

  2. Paul Lamb Says:

    When I’m combing my stories, I drink beer. You’re right about the dichotomy, though I still say that with creative writing, just about anything goes, if it works.


  3. There are prescriptivists and descriptivists in the English language. I am a descriptivist, which means I acknowledge that language changes.

    Just because I’m a hard-ass (i.e., copyeditor) about grammar rules in the books I work on, doesn’t mean that I hold all those rules when editing creative writing.

    Clarity and consistency are the most important things. Consistency is most important for poetry (either use punctuation correctly or not at all). I don’t blink at sentence fragments until they begin to irritate me. Split infinitives is a rule they made up because you can’t split infinitives in Latin. I ignore them always.

    So I, of course, think you should listen to me. 😉 And I no longer put semi colons in my poems (although I once did). My friends cured me of that habit.

  4. Teri Says:

    Good for you, Paul. One of my favorite short story collections is by Breece D’J Pancake. He breaks every rule in every single story. And he’s f-ing brilliant.


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