Thursday, March 29, 2007

Rules It's the Words That Rule

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Some of us have been discussing recently on various sites the rules that (ex officio) govern the mechanics of writing. How important are they? How deeply set in stone are they? The verdict? The consensus among this group of talented writers is that "we don't need no stinkin' rules!" Many writers are adept enough at what they do to slip the bonds of what sometimes seem like arbitrary and capricious rules and regulations and produce wonderfully literate prose in spite of it -- or perhaps because of it.

Rules were invented for a purpose (quality control?), but they were also invented to be broken when necessary. A rule that applies to one person might not necessarily be appropriate for another. In fact, sometimes breaking a rule actually improves the end result. Rules regarding, for example, Point of View can quite successfully be flouted if the writer knows what he or she is doing. The same applies to application of all the other rules. Presupposing that the writer does, indeed, know his or her craft, he or she has a feel for the work. It is readily apparent to the practiced eye when a passage does or does not work, the salient word being practiced. The accomplished author just knows when it feels right. If it doesn't conform to "the rules," so what? The genuinely gifted writer isn't going to sit around bemoaning the constraints of rules, much less wallow in guilt for breaking them. Instead, he's going to move forward in step with his own instincts to produce something innovative and wildly exciting.

Some fledgling scribes, on the other hand, may need the rules. A lot. Not all who apply the "writer" label to themselves should be given license to ignore the rules. Given their heads, oh, what a dreadful mess they weave. Alas, they are apt to disregard, trample, and trash the rules because (1) they don't know them and (2) well, they don't know them -- and they are whence comes today's Twisted Linguistics docket.

How about "I tried the diet the weight went down somewhat?" This person is guilty of punctuation neglect. That's a felony.

"sent it to independant publisher's" -- This one practices apostrophe abuse and can't spell.

"My poems have been recieve very well" -- What we see here is blatant disregard of tense and, again, the inability to spell a simple two-syllable word. In some states, that's a misdemeanor; here, it's charged as a felony.

"Their going out of their way to make it a success" -- Mmm-HMM. Homonym assault, unless I miss my guess.

"If your doing a signing" -- There is a distinct difference between your and you're. Word abusers who don't know the difference but persist in calling themselves authors don't really deserve signings, do they?

And finally, we have the crowd that just loves to make up words, such as

no revalance to my work
fristrating
consanants

It's not revalant, damn it, and consan it, it's working me up and fristrating me.

JIt's Thursday! You're probably not terribly excited about that fact, but I am. Thursday is the last day of my work week, so my weekend officially begins this afternoon. You know what that means -- it's time to raise a little (or a lot of) hell.

4 To kick things off, this is niiiiiiiice. Mmmmm.



4I'm having another one of those "puberty days" -- zit on my nose. I don't get this at all. I didn't have zits when I actually went through puberty about two centuries ago, so why now?

4Would I set foot on that new glass-bottomed skywalk jutting out over the Grand Canyon? Not on your life!

7Special News Bulletin8
Scary Monster, who's in Hawaii, is also now also in Florida visiting Leelee. (Don't ask how he can be in two places at once. It's a secret Monster trick that we mortals cannot know.) His unnatural attachment to Leelee's garden gnome notwithstanding, it looks like they're having a ball.

The secrets of your love life, revealed


Your Love Life Secrets Are

Looking back on your life, you will have many true loves.

You're a little scarred from your past relationships, but who isn't?

It's important to you that your lover is very attractive. You like to have someone to show off.

In fights, you are able to walk away and calm down. You are able to weather the storm.

A break-up usually comes as a shock to you. You always think things are going well.

20 comments:

Liz said...

I thought Scary Monster was female!

You are quite a stern taskmaster, Serena! It's possible some of your Twisted Linguistics are typing errors. I don't always notice mine until I've posted a comment. Not atht I'm trying to excuse bad grammar, spelling or punctuation. There is certainly no excuse for bad spelling when we have Spellcheckers.

Last Friday I had a long email conversation with a young lad - we were supposed to be making arrangements for going into prison - all about this subject. He says his workmates laugh at him because he picks out and corrects mistakes. I was sympathising. Then on Sunday, in the prison, we both noticed a sign that included the word 'accommadation'.

Roxan said...

***Your Love Life Secrets Are***


Looking back on your life, you will only have one true love.

You've been deeply wounded in the past, and you're still recovering from that hurt.

You expect a lot from your lover - you want the full package. You tend to be very picky.

In fights, you are able to walk away and calm down. You are able to weather the storm.

A break-up usually comes as a shock to you. You always think things are going well.

The last part is rubbish. Most of it sums me up. I am extremely picky when it comes to my love life.

Steve G said...

Liz, I'm not sure what scary is. I did check LeeLee' blog. He is there.

Serena Joy said...

I think he's a male monster, Liz. LOL. I know, lots of Words Gone Wild are typos, and those are eminently forgiveable (but still fun to play with) because, after all, we all do it. My problem, though, is with people loudly proclaiming themselves to be authors who post this stuff on the messageboards of certain low-rent "publishers." It's not typos; they misspell and misuse the same words consistently, over and over again. There's one who continually writes stuff like, "There were 3 book's on the list's yesterday and today I beleive I recieved my check's." Makes me want to slap him senseless. Do you think they could accomadate me at the prison?:)

tfg said...

Getting over a break-up doesn't take long. Easy come, easy go.

These interactive quizzes are remarkably insightful. I was amazed that it was able to discern my penchant for inflatable women.

Serena Joy said...

What I want to know, T, is why are there no inflatable men? And don't tell me it's because there's nobody to -- no, don't tell me.:)

Kanrei said...

Looking back on your life, you will have a few true loves.

You're a little scarred from your past relationships, but who isn't?

You expect a lot from your lover - you want the full package. You tend to be very picky.

In fights, you seek compromise and back down from conflict. You always try to smooth things out.

Break-ups can be painful for you, but you never show it. You hold your head high.

Mostly all true except the last one. I show my pain. My head sinks.

MXI said...

This is why i don't call myself a writer, I don't know the rules and too lazy to follow them if I did. You have succeeded in making me very self conscious about what I write. I have to go back and fix all my posts!

Serena Joy said...

Kan & Roxan, I wouldn't put much stock in the quiz results. We already know they lie a lot. I mean, look at mine. It says something like I insist on good looks in people. That's not true at all. I'm much more impressed by what's on the inside.

MXI -- no, no, no. The bottom line turns out to be that the rules don't really matter. My problem is with the sources of lots of Words Gone Wild who adamantly insist on calling themselves writers. If they're going to claim the label, I think they should at least know the basics.

littlebirdblue said...

***Your Love Life Secrets Are***


Looking back on your life, you will have a few true loves.

You're a little scarred from your past relationships, but who isn't?

You prefer a quirky, unique person to be your lover. You're easy going about who you're with, as long as they love you back.

In fights, you are able to walk away and calm down. You are able to weather the storm.

Getting over a break-up doesn't take long. Easy come, easy go.
___________________________

Yeah. S won't like that last one.

fristrating--
Gets you lynched in 42 states (--not California)

I actually went through puberty about two centuries ago--
SNORK!

Nice post today, SJ. I've got some rules to go break now...

(Ahh...hubris!)

Corn Dog said...

I had a wonderful writing teacher who used to say, before he went insane, "You must know the rules. Then and only then you know when and how you can break them." I don't know what he says now post rubber room, the poor dear.

I love Chris Isaak. I love that song. I love the fact the woman in the video is wearing Gramma panties, like me.

Scary is in Hawaii and in Florida. It is confirmed. He has defied the time space continum by being in two places at the same time. Does that make him kin to Einstein? Scary gets scarier every day. I think the Scary of Florida and the Gnome are drinking Mimosas.

Serena Joy said...

Thank you, Littlebird, for educating me on the meaning of "fristrating." I knew it had to be something God-awful; I didn't realize it was a lynchable offense. I wonder if I'd get in trouble for doing the honors for the next one caught doing it?

Hubris can be a good thing; rules not so much.:)

Hell, CD, I could have told your writing teacher what obsessing on rules would do to him. He didn't ask me. His loss. LOL.

I love Chris, too (don't tell Johnny). I sit here day after day just waiting for him to come and beg me to run away with him. So far, it ain't happening. What do you suppose his problem is?

I haven't heard the term "granny panties" in a coon's age. I needed some granny drawers not long ago because I had a light bulb go off in my head that, hey, maybe too-tight britches were causing some, er, problems. Granny pants apparently aren't sold as granny pants, but you can't keep me down. I just bought bloomers 4 sizes too big. It did NOT solve the problem, so they're now in one of my pack rat drawers and I'm back to wearing my tighty-whiteys.

You know what I'm wondering, CD? How do we know Scary is NOT Einstein? Or Spock? Or Denny Crane? I don't know what he and that gnome dude are drinking, but they look just a leeeetle too close for comfort.:)

Corn Dog said...

Funny but I had an uncomfortable feeling too about the gnome and Scary, like I was intruding on something, not quite sure what.

Hale McKay said...

Dang it! So many of the comments are so insightful and entertaining that I keep forgetting what comment I was going to make.

So, I have to reread the blog to remember what I wanted to add.

I am in agreement with you, SJ, it's the ones who refer to themselves as writers who make blatant grammar and punctuation mistakes that get my goat.

I also cringe when I see or hear people using words that don't exist. I have even heard Ted Koppel use this one: educatory. Barbara Walters once referred to a warden of a prison as a "Penitentiarian."

A favorite quote of mine - (I have no idea who said it) - "Yesterday I could not spell righter, today I are one."

Hale McKay said...

Oh yeah, I took on those Twisted Linguistics from yesterday's post, and posted them there.

Serena Joy said...

Yeah, I think there's something fishy going on, CD. Leelee mentioned they were sneaking around digging in her garden. That gnome might be forcing Scary to help him bury stolen treasure or something. That gnome's got beady, shifty eyes. I don't trust him.

"Penitentiarian?" What on earth did Babawawa say that was, Mike? It sounds like some kind of weird, arcane Latin rite. Thanks for doing the Words Gone Wild. They were great!

Hale McKay said...

Instead of referring to the warden as 'warden,' I suppose she thought "penitentiarian" was another word for warden.

A case of someone trying to use a big word when one is not necessary? Especially when it's not a word at all.

MXI said...

I have one claim to fame I'll share here,CY. I am (was, confusing I know)a broadcaster and met and interviewed Chris Isaak atleast twice.. just wanted you to be jealous. (although he doesn't do anything for me...)

Lee said...

Very interesting post, Serna...food for thought. Thanks.

Serena Joy said...

Thanks, Lee.

MXI, you succeeded -- I'm jealous. LOL. But seriously, you really don't like his voice?