Tag Archives: Style Guides

Rule #11 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever

Writing_A_Great_Novel

I’m dissecting the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie, using it as a cattle prod to search for little nasties in my manuscript.  Yep, you can join in the fun, too.  Let’s take a looksee at topic #11

11: Avoid sounding ‘writerly’. Better to dirty up your prose. When you sound like a writer, your voice has crept in and authorial intrusion is always unwelcome. In the best writing, the author is invisible.

My take on this, is to not always be perfect.

I have to admit… I’ve started sentences with “and” and “but”.  Correct?  No, of course not.  So why do it?

VOICE.

Voice is very important, especially in first person. Your character is narrating the entire story.  Do YOU think in complete sentences?  No, of course not.

We need to write how it is believable.

I recently had an editor try to “correct” this paragraph of dialog:

“You’re pretty, and have nice legs, and beautiful brown eyes, and an amazing smile if you’d ever use it, but you can’t see all these great things because you’re always too hung up on wishing you had what everyone else does.”

They wanted me to change it to be grammatically correct.  Their suggested edit:

“You’re pretty, have nice legs, beautiful brown eyes, and an amazing smile if you’d ever use it…”

The reason I pushed back on this is because the character is very emotional and upset.  He is rattling off a list of things popping into his head (and not thinking at all what he is saying)  The editor’s suggested change made it sound like he was dictating a letter with no emotion at all.

Luckily, despite not being ‘correct’ – my dialog stayed.  It is more believable this way, and conveys ten times the emotion.

Have you ever had to defend your choice of “bad” grammar/style?

Click here to tweet: Write bad to write good. Rule #11 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever from @jennifermeaton

_JenniFer____EatoN

By Request: Passed verses Past

Yay!  A fun grammar test!

I found a great test on Grammar Monster where it gives you a paragraph (there are three different paragraphs, so you can do this three times if you like)  and you need to choose the correct form of “passed or past” 4-5 times in each paragraph.  Check it out.

http://www.grammar-monster.com/easily_confused/past_passed.htm

I am happy to say that even though I thought I was confused, I found that taking this test three times, I didn’t make a single mistake following three simple rules.

Well, of course I am going to tell you…

1.        Passed—Almost always means to “go by” something.  “I passed the bookstore on my way to school.” It can also mean “I passed an exam” (I got by with a passing grade)

2.       Past—Almost always refers to time.  “Don’t hate me for past mistakes.”

3.       Here’s the tricky one…  pay attention.  If you have already used a verb that signifies motion, then the second action will be “Past” even if it does not refer to time.  “I ran past the bookstore on my way to school.”

Take a look at those side by side to make sure you understand:

“I passed the bookstore on my way to school.”

“I ran past the bookstore on my way to school.”

Ahhhhh.  It’s those little subtleties in life that just drive you crazy, don’t they?

I hope this helps!