Grammar - Page 2


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Thread: Grammar

  1. #11
    I make an effort to use proper grammar when I speak, and I think that carries over into my writing. My writing style may seem "formal," but it's how I talk.
    "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." - Benjamin Franklin

    "I do not over-intellectualize the production process. I try to keep it simple: Tell the damned story." - Tom Clancy

  2. #12
    Thanks guys. All interesting, helpful and food for thought.

  3. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by OurJud View Post
    Well I'm certainly not a veteran, but I'll have a go at answering.

    Having your own 'voice' is all well and good, but I don't see how there can possibly be an alternative to proper punctuation. Punctuation is there for a reason. It tells the reader where to pause, where to take a breath. In short, it forces them to read the text in the same way it would be spoken/heard.

    Having said all that, I'm not sure the OP was necessarily talking about punctuation, but rather writing as he speaks. If this is the case, then I would say again that doing this is a great way to develop a distinct voice, but that it still needs to be punctuated correctly.
    I understand the need for punctuation and how it helps to create pauses and all that jazz, but the problem comes in following the "rules". Such as using one before "and" in a list, or using one before a conjunction only if the two sides can form separate sentences. Sometimes this can cause an issue where I want the reader to pause, but the next part after the conjunction is a fragment so I avoid using a comma, or I'll restructure the second part to make it a full sentence so I can add that comma because it's the "correct" thing to do. However, doing so tends to ruin the flow or way I wanted it to go. I pretty sure I'm purely overthinking it and that I need to unlearn what I learned in school. Unfortunately, that's proving difficult for me to do.

    Another issue I'm having is more about how a sentence is structured. I'll use the excerpt you used as an example.

    Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era - the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run...
    My anal retentive brain will try to change it to something like:
    Strange memories filled his head on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Was it five years later? Was it six? It seems like a lifetime ago, or at least a Main Era, the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place of which to be a part. Maybe it meant something, but maybe not in the long run...
    I'd like to stop correcting my own writing with this wasteful editing. I suppose I can only take the advice everyone already suggested and just press on regardless of what the page currently looks like, but it just has a tendency to stump me even when trying to initially write a single sentence down. I'll spend about 5 minutes on a 3-4 sentence long paragraph because there's something that doesn't look quite "right" about it, or the sentences don't come across the way I meant for them to sound in my head. It's like someone threw a wrench into the gears in my brain. It's really troublesome when all I want to do is tell my story, and while the roadblocks may be tiny, I trip over each one every time. I was wondering if it was just me or something other people were having issue with or had issue with as a novice.
    Last edited by mber341; August 16th, 2013 at 06:29 PM.

  4. #14
    Being perfectly grammatically correct is like an old fellow I once knew that was so honest it was pitiful. It was difficult doing business with him.

  5. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by mber341 View Post
    Sometimes this can cause an issue where I want the reader to pause, but the next part after the conjunction is a fragment so I avoid using a comma, or I'll restructure the second part to make it a full sentence so I can add that comma because it's the "correct" thing to do. However, doing so tends to ruin the flow or way I wanted it to go.
    There's the old saw about knowing the rules and then breaking them. If you have a good reason to break from standard punctuation (and rhythm or flow are good enough reasons in my book) then go for it.

    I teach grammar and I know the rules pretty well. Sometimes I follow them, sometimes I don't. It's when people don't know what they're doing that they get in trouble.

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by mber341 View Post
    I understand the need for punctuation and how it helps to create pauses and all that jazz, but the problem comes in following the "rules". Such as using one before "and" in a list, or using one before a conjunction only if the two sides can form separate sentences.
    Well it's certainly true to say that some areas of punctuation are outdated and no longer apply. I very often use a comma before 'and', and have seen it done in many professionally published works. See what I did there? That was a happy accident

    I think it is safe for us to presume that just so long as your story is coherent, and 'sounds' okay when you read it aloud, then anything that needs changing in terms of grammar and/or punctuation, can be done at a later date, maybe even by someone else like a proof reader.

    The problem only arises when your grammar and punctuation are so bad or 'out there' that a reader can't make head nor tail of what you're trying to say.
    "Lister, that is my private, personal, private diary; full of my personal, private, personal things."

  7. #17
    Thanks a bunch lasm, OurJud. That makes a lot of sense.

  8. #18
    Member Odd Greg's Avatar
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    I'm late to this party. Mind if I chime in? I'll assume 'yes' for now.

    Without covering the same ground as the previous two august members, I'll add that editors are an interesting lot when it comes to poring over a manuscript; even more so than critics. If you are not concerned with any of that, then stop reading now.

    Oh, look! A rabbit!

    I've written run-on sentences in dialogue precisely because that's what I want to do and I don't think it's particularly a problem considering that there are some cases when a person may just keep on going no matter what the consequences or with the concern that someone will interrupt them and mess with their stream of consciousness ranting or babbling over some situation that has made them feel very stressed or freaked or even temporarily insane.

    Not a lot of people would skip over such a line in a critique, and are likely to cite a lot of very good reasons for not doing it. However, I think it's fine as a way of presenting dialogue. Sparingly, of course.

    Oh, look! Sparklies! Naturally, my spell checker wants to change that to 'spark-lies'. I just don't think that works as well.
    Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. ~ P.K. Dick

  9. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Odd Greg View Post
    I'm late to this party. Mind if I chime in? I'll assume 'yes' for now.

    Without covering the same ground as the previous two august members, I'll add that editors are an interesting lot when it comes to poring over a manuscript; even more so than critics. If you are not concerned with any of that, then stop reading now.

    Oh, look! A rabbit!

    I've written run-on sentences in dialogue precisely because that's what I want to do and I don't think it's particularly a problem considering that there are some cases when a person may just keep on going no matter what the consequences or with the concern that someone will interrupt them and mess with their stream of consciousness ranting or babbling over some situation that has made them feel very stressed or freaked or even temporarily insane.

    Not a lot of people would skip over such a line in a critique, and are likely to cite a lot of very good reasons for not doing it. However, I think it's fine as a way of presenting dialogue. Sparingly, of course.

    Oh, look! Sparklies! Naturally, my spell checker wants to change that to 'spark-lies'. I just don't think that works as well.
    if that is where the original post was aimed, then I agree wholeheartedly.

    "Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.― Mahatma Gandhi


    If you want me to respond to a thread or your work just pm me.

  10. #20
    I think grammar is important, but it doesn't have to be perfect. Everyone has their own writing style and sometimes you even have a reason for not following a grammatical rule. In particular, I think making grammar in dialogue imperfect can add to a character's personality.

    Quote Originally Posted by lasm View Post
    There's the old saw about knowing the rules and then breaking them. If you have a good reason to break from standard punctuation (and rhythm or flow are good enough reasons in my book) then go for it.

    I teach grammar and I know the rules pretty well. Sometimes I follow them, sometimes I don't. It's when people don't know what they're doing that they get in trouble.
    I really like the way she worded this.

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