Style Guide Rules vs Artful Grammar


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Thread: Style Guide Rules vs Artful Grammar

  1. #1

    Style Guide Rules vs Artful Grammar

    When asking a question on Quora about the need to revolve sentences around strong verbs I was told that people designed such rules because aspiring writers don't want to take the time to learn grammar, and that if I want to create a masterpiece I might need to ignore such rules.

    I am reminded of the first sentence from Pride and Prejudice, which uses prepositional phrases instead of verbs and seems superior to what it would have been with verbs.

    What do you think?
    Last edited by lumino; August 21st, 2019 at 11:59 PM.

  2. #2
    First sentence of Pride and Prejudice does have a verb--even if it's not a strong one. It's a controversial enough sentence to get the reader's attention--even without a strong verb.

    In general, stronger, more active verbs are preferred in fiction. Variety is the spice of life, however, so it's expected that not all sentences will have engaging verbs.

    I don't think the push for active verbs has anything to do with learning grammar. Learning about grammar can help us discuss matters with other writers (such as in regards to active or passive voice).
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  3. #3
    There are no rules, just best practices.
    Where you can purchase a copy of Fallen Sun, my second novel. Hidden Content

  4. #4
    Mentor Dluuni's Avatar
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    If you follow the rules, your writing will not be bad. They aren't a recipe for greatness, they're a checklist so you can assure you at least achieve mediocrity. You can make a masterpiece with or without them.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by lumino View Post
    When asking a question on Quora...
    Thats your first mistake, right there.
    "If you don't like my peaches, don't shake my tree."

  6. #6
    Rules... We don't need no stink'n rules!!! I spat on the "rules" and implement my own instead.

    Writing is an art, and no matter how shitty I may write, it's still enjoyable by me... except for that one rough draft I wrote, need a lot of liquor to get through it and I don't drink.


    As long as it's readable and enjoyed by others,

  7. #7
    If you have a time machine and plan to travel back to 1813, then Pride & Prejudice is a great book to study.

    But if you are writing in the modern era, I would look at more contemporary works.
    No one writes like Steinbeck or Hemingway anymore.
    Writing has evolved.
    Storytelling in general (books, movies...) has evolved since then.


    But more to your point, there is a difference between a mechanically correct sentence, and one that works in modern writing.
    Essay writing is not the same as writing commercial fiction.
    Often a mechanically correct sentence is too klunky for fiction.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by lumino View Post
    When asking a question on Quora about the need to revolve sentences around strong verbs I was told that people designed such rules because aspiring writers don't want to take the time to learn grammar, and that if I want to create a masterpiece I might need to ignore such rules.
    People generally design rules based on what works. Though in Quoras case, I am skeptical.

    Look I’ll tell you this: I don’t have the faintest clue what you’re talking about as far as strong verbs. There’s no such thing as a strong verb. There are verbs that correctly describe an action in a given context and there are ones that don’t.

    **Content warning**

    If I were to write “He rammed her mouth with his penis” in the context of an romantic love scene, the fact that I am using a “strong” verb doesn’t make it a good sentence, because that’s a grotesque and probably inaccurate descriptive (depending on what you’re into, obviously).

    If I write “He rammed the door with his shoulder” in the context of a hostage rescue scene, however, that’s much better isn’t it? Because it makes sense for what is being evoked. But it’s the same verb...

    The image you are creating should dictate the language choice, not “rules”.
    Last edited by luckyscars; August 22nd, 2019 at 08:30 AM.
    "If you don't like my peaches, don't shake my tree."

  9. #9
    A friend who was reading my novel wrote to me "I don't like the way that you've written it but I'm still reading it because I want to know what happens." Does that answer the question?

    He never finished reading the story as, he told me, he preferred stories that were closer to reality. It was actually a reasonably conservative science fiction story and he was a scientist, so I couldn't understand how far his idea of reality extended given that our correspondence also regularly covered quantum mechanics, possibly the most unbelievable fantasy ever imagined, at least to many people. His explanation was that he didn't regard quantum mechanics as necessarily being reality as such but used it because it happened to give the right answers. I suppose that was his approach to my writing as well, that it didn't matter whether it was really well written so long as it gave him the answers that he wanted.

    Maybe a badly written good story may irritate readers, but the whole strategy in fiction writing is to give the reader an itch and then help them to scratch it. That's effectively what that first line in Pride and Prejudice did, create the itch.
    'Sharing an experience creates a reality.' Create a new reality today.
    'There has to be some give and take.' If I can take my time I'm willing to give it.
    'The most difficult criticism that a writer has to comprehend is silence.' So speak up.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    There’s no such thing as a strong verb.
    Oh, there is, but me thinks it's not what the OP means. Strong = irregular verb: bring/brought. Weak = walked/walked. It would look pretty strange having no -ed suffixes on a verb throughout a story, though.

    But a story with a load of relational clauses: She was X-ing, He was Z-ing, can make for very dull imagery and one boring story.
    "You don't wanna ride the bus like this,"

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