Rules of Writing - Are There Really Any? - Page 2


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Thread: Rules of Writing - Are There Really Any?

  1. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Scribe101 View Post
    Before one can break the rules for artistic effect, one must master them.
    I don't necessarily subscribe to this line of thought.

    There is a section in my WIP that, when it has been reviewed, has been called a "grammatical nightmare". It was then pointed out that even though it grammatically incorrect, it was used to great effect.

    I was an absolutely terrible student in English class. Grammar bored me to tears. The only reason I know how to put a sentence together is because of having read so many books in my lifetime. I know what works and what doesn't.

    I wouldn't know a dangling participle from an orange. So even though I broke the rules of grammar to good effect...I don't actually know the rules of grammar.
    “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.” -Carl Sagan

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  2. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Scribe101 View Post
    I agree with this.

    Before one can break the rules for artistic effect, one must master them.
    Do you need to know the traffic laws to break them?

    This is something often tacitly put forward in conversations of this nature, but it isn't accurate. I can break all the rules I want without knowing what they are or ever coming close to mastering them. Breaking them in a good way, however? That's a different story.
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    "Give a man a mask and he will show you his true face". ~ Oscar Wilde.

    "He who learns but does not think is lost; he who thinks but does not learn is in great danger". ~ Confucius.

  3. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by T.S.Bowman View Post
    I don't necessarily subscribe to this line of thought.

    There is a section in my WIP that, when it has been reviewed, has been called a "grammatical nightmare". It was then pointed out that even though it grammatically incorrect, it was used to great effect.

    I was an absolutely terrible student in English class. Grammar bored me to tears. The only reason I know how to put a sentence together is because of having read so many books in my lifetime. I know what works and what doesn't.

    I wouldn't know a dangling participle from an orange. So even though I broke the rules of grammar to good effect...I don't actually know the rules of grammar.
    Hi TS,

    I never said that one must know the rules in order to break them. The word
    used is master. It's an old adage that could've done with some qualification.

    Every written language has it's own underpinning logic. The simple reason for
    this is clarity in comprehension and communication. The language
    evolves solutions to problems. Commas and fullstops are good examples.
    Mastering these solutions will make you a better writer. You don't
    necessarily have to know all of the 'rules'. As Aristotle said, a man can
    master a craft without knowing why his techniques work.

    But in order for him to become a master he had to go through
    some kind of learning process, some developmental journey.
    He had to master the established techniques by practising,
    and studying other masters, until eventually he had the
    confidence, skill and know-how to 'break the rules'.

    In that same way, a person masters a written language (and its different modes).

    And not sure if I'm convinced by your argument. You say,
    'I don't actually know the rules of grammar'. But it's clear to me
    that you do know some rules of grammar. You know about fullstops,
    commas, and you know about good sentence structure. You study the masters and
    you practise at writing in order to 'know what works and what doesn't'.

    When a person truly masters a written language (in his chosen form)
    he has the freedom to break the rules and create
    wonderful, coherent works of literature. He doesn't do it by accident,
    doesn't leave it to chance or the position of the stars or the whim of fate -
    he does it by skill.

    But even then, you can still create wonderful works of literature by
    not breaking the rules.

  4. #14
    no no no no

    There is a set of rules for writing that must be obeyed!!!

    Interestingly enough, even after people had been writing for thousands of years, it remained for Jack Kerouac, in the turmoil of the 20th Century, to finally codify the craft of writing in language so clear and unambiguous as to astound all who saw the list.

    For those who do not yet have the Rules for Writing engraved in your heart, or at least posted as the background image in the middle of your computer screen, you can find the list here.
    El día ha sido bueno. La noche será larga.

  5. #15
    It's not a simple question. You can write without following any rules at all, but there's no guarantee that anyone else will understand it. In that case there's no point in writing it, is there?

    I'm toying with the notion of starting a writing blog, but I want to have a few entries ready so I don't fall behind. The first one answers this question. I'll come back and add a link....
    Secord Sound Arts has gone out of business

    Watch for Under World the book

  6. #16
    When I hear word rules I immediately turn off. It's not to say they don't have their place. But if rules don't get broken they scene gets stale. Anytime you have your mind blown by something it's generally because someone broke a rule you didn't know could be broken. Of course it also has to be well done.
    "I like working with first time directors because they don't really know the rules yet. And therefore don't know any limits."
    -Sir Ben Kingsley

  7. #17
    If you don't have any rules for the thing you're writing, you might be in trouble. If you've gotten far enough to choose some, Just please don't tell them to anybody.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. Steven Wright

  8. #18
    I like rules. How can I be subversive without something to subvert?

    Plus writing guides sell by the container load. Way to get rich...

  9. #19
    There are rules for proper spelling and grammar, but they aren't rules for writing. They're rules used by writers, whether they're kept or broken. The same goes for everything else that people call 'rules for writing'.

    Before one can break the rules for artistic effect, one must master them.
    I usually follow the quote in my sig; no-one ever masters anything in writing. People call some writers 'masters', but there's no perfection - there's no absolute limit of how good a writer can get at any part of their craft.

    If you want to get good at something, and more flexible with it, practice. What and how you practice are up to you; you can learn 'rules' in order to artistically break them and be able to talk about how you did it. You can also practice less tangible perspectives on the craft, things that you can't talk about as much, and be called a 'master' just as much as the next guy.
    Sleep is for the weak, or sleep is for a week.
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    I write about anime and internet culture at Hidden Content

  10. #20
    For me and for many others of my generation the Master was Jack Kerouac and his guide to the way the world works is On the Road. Those 30 rules do not constitute a joke, as some people believe, or at least, want to believe. Perhaps it's needful to be of my generation to read them aright. And while for years I've kept Kerouac's 'Rules for Spontaneous Prose' before me, I've never been able to free myself from the other rules for writing that I've been taught from boyhood; never been able to let go to the extent that Kerouac's rules require.

    The first five are easy - they fit my nature. I've had uneven success with putting the other 25 into practice. I've made my living listening to Henry Fowler and using his book as my bible. Perhaps if, at a very early age, I'd listened more intently to Kerouac, I would have achieved the spontaneity his rules require of the writer.

    Perhaps.

    Now I'll never know.
    El día ha sido bueno. La noche será larga.

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