You ever have a moment when your mind just keeps ticking away on a single subject?
Today, I seem to be dwelling on the fine line between Writing Style and Grammar.
I’ve known a great many people in this journey that I’ve endeavored on to pursue my writing dream. A great many indeed. The sad and unfortunate truth is that in this day and time everyone wants to be a writer. What can I say? That is just the way the cookie has been crumbling since 2005 or so’ish.
Now, just because with modern technology everyone has to ability to be an author, that does not give them the right to be. Not everyone is endowed with the undeniable talent of writing. Sorry, it had to be said.
There is a reason to this … I promise.
All of this trickles down to so many facets of the writing industry as a whole. It seeps into reading, reviewing, and of course writing and publishing. There are many more faces to this industry that meets the eyes. But I won’t get into that today.
Nevertheless, today I’m going to focus on the difference between Writing Style and Grammatical Error.
Trust me when I tell you that there is a fine line there and ANY circumstance can sway that line into one area or the other. Not everyone can tell the variation between Writing Style and Grammatical Error. Others simply don’t want to, whether it be for good or bad reasons. In this industry we have groups like the Grammatically Pious Editors and the Self-Righteous Writers. Either side of the fence is a bad one.
Yet, what about the ones that can see both sides?
I suppose the best approach to this post would be to tell you a story.
There was a Kingdom called Grammartopia. In that place a girl named Mindy met a girl named Helen.
Mindy and Helen met at a Writers Community Meeting in the town hall. The two girls hit it off fairly well, consequently becoming good friends. Through time that friendship blossomed. They shared thoughts as well as their views on different writers’ works. Most of the time they saw things the same way, the only difference was that Mindy was more swayed towards Writing Style and Art whereas Helen was a stickler for Proper Grammar.
Many times Mindy could see Helen’s points as it pertained to Grammar and Punctuation in certain peoples’ work, however at times she simply didn’t because she knew that certain things were done on purpose. She knew this because it was a practice she held true in her own works.
One day Helen decided that she would create a blog dedicated to teaching writers Proper Grammar. She felt that it would be her little contribution to the Kingdom of Grammartopia. Mindy was all for it and was anxious to start following the blog herself as she knew that Helen had lots of great tips to offer.
In time Helen grew arrogant. Whether it was deliberate or inadvertently Mindy wasn’t sure, all she knew was that it was happening. With further passing time, Mindy realized that Helen had started labeling things that were clearly Writing Style as Grammatical Error. Mindy was sort of upset with these findings and couldn’t quite figure out why Helen was seeing things that way.
Sooner or later Helen’s once long and well articulated views on other peoples’ works became shorter and more dogmatic. Where once she would give leeway to story line and some Writing Style, now she no longer did. She’d become so strict in her perception that Writing Style was in her mind, completely out of the question. This thought process consequently made her views shorter and shorter as well as meaner and meaner.
Shortly thereafter, Helen crowned herself the Ruler of Grammartopia and ruled the Kingdom with an iron hand, and would not succumb to what others perceived as art.
Mindy, unfortunately lost a good friend to the inner mayhem that only Iron Fist Editing could accomplish. With a sad heart and a tear flowing down her cheek, Mindy turned away from the friendship that she’d once held dear because in her heart ART was what mattered most of all.
A similar thing happened in real life. This was an unfortunate turn of events. I’ll tell you why …
When a Reader/Writer/Editor turns their high and mighty views into Iron Fist Editing then they will undoubtedly give a bad review to a great book simply because the writer might have used a “few too many” exclamation points. Who knows, maybe even a couple of instances of “weak sentence structure”. It could have been things which could have very well been implemented on purpose due to an artistic view, as well as the overall effect for the reader. Yet, here we have the “Grammatically Pious” rendering that as a mistake to the rules of the English Language therefore a blatant offence.
I don’t think it’s fair. As a matter of fact, the well trained eye can see both Proper Grammar AND Writing Style. Just because you know proper grammar does not give you the license to belittle and/or rebuke other peoples’ works because it does not fit in your little guide to the English Language.
Don’t let your self-righteous opinion cloud your judgement of good art. Some things are indisputable mistakes whereas others are simply a matter of view points. What you’ve deemed erroneous someone else may have done on purpose. Why? Because while story telling does have to be grammatically correct, lots of it does have to reflect the reality of the human condition–imperfection.