Life

Rule Breakers

There are many hard and fast rules for writing, but for heaven’s sake, don’t be afraid to sneak out of the grammar house, pick up a few friends, and have the time of your life.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I attended a school that made me memorize all of the grammar rules. My high school required us to buckle up in the student-driver car with an instructor who was overly generous in administering the brake override. It wasn’t until I started journaling during my undergrad years that I decided to take the car out for a joyride. The privacy of my own journal afforded me the freedom to break any rule I wanted.

As I skidded along the sharp turns of State Route 1, convertible top down and wind blowing in my hair, I discovered that some of the definitive rules I learned in grade school were most certainly meant to be broken.

The following are just a few:

* Sentences can start with a coordinating conjunction.

* Many great sentences start with a subordinating conjunction.

* Some fragments are okay.

* A long list of adjectives to describe a noun is the worst way to describe a noun. Same with adverbs.

* There is a difference between repetition and redundancy. The former is a tool. The latter an annoyance.

* You can make it your ENTIRE life without using a semi-colon. ONCE!

I know, I know. When a student is learning the fundamentals of writing, they need training wheels. That’s why we tell them they can’t use the word “and” to start a sentence, or that fragments are always wrong, or that they should learn to describe things by using a mile long list of adjectives. It’s why we teach (and later un-teach if we’re good teachers) the five-paragraph essay. But there is a time when some writers should be given permission to sneak dad’s Porsche 944 out of the garage.

Writing is fun.

Especially when you get to enjoy the leather interior and unbridled speed as you hug a ninety-degree turn at sixty miles per hour.

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