Core Rules to Writing a Story:
The Difference Between Being a Rule Keeper and A Legalist In Writing
Every grammar teacher I’ve had tended to err on the side of legalism. It is my suspicion that if you’ve attended public school, you’ve had a similar experience. That being said, if I were a grammar teacher, I suspect I would commit the same error. After all, it is their job to teach the rules of writing. Rarely are they encouraged by their employers or institutions to teach you to break or ignore the rules of English.
That being said, I believe it is important for us, having been the students of many grammar teachers, to remember the place which our teachers have stood. They taught us the rules because it was their duty, and to those who were sincere and diligent in their efforts, we owe a thank you.
With the role of a grammar teacher in mind, we can safely consider an assertion here. The assertion is as follows: Just because I was taught against disobeying the rules of English in my grammar class, does not mean that there is never a good time to break the rules.
The rule is still there to be the rule. But it is not always meant to be obeyed. Perhaps using a synonym for the word “rule” to explain what I mean will help. The rules of writing are the principles of writing. They are the guiding line. They are the proverb to follow. However, proverbs are promises with general truths. They are not laws in the sense that the universe has laws, unchanging and unbending.
This is evident, first of all, in everyday speech. English is not what it was four-hundred years ago. Why is that? The answer cannot be because the rules of English are unbreakable. Rather, it is because the rules were so often challenged, in they way we communicate that they were changed. An unfortunate and obnoxious example of this is the word literally. It has been used so often to mean the opposite of literally, it now means both. Literally literally means not literally in some instances. Some day, literally may very well own mean not literally.
There is another way in which we can recognize the rules of English as being proverbial principles as opposed to natural laws. We do this by reading good writing. If one picks up The Lord of The Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, or Alice in Wonderland. They will soon find that writing rules are ignored even by the most gifted and educated professors of literature. In Lewis Carroll’s instance, he even popularized the art of storytelling while using fake words. In the place of English vocabulary, he employed phonetic structures that paint a picture with their sounds rather than their symbology. What a strange way to communicate no matter what language you speak. Still, it worked brilliantly.
With all of this in mind, there are two conclusions which we must keep at the core of our work as we pull from this book. First, English grammar and the art of storytelling do have proverbs and they are generally wise to obey. Second, a wise and talented person will discern when to not employ the advice I give between these pages.