Wednesday, September 23, 2009

In response to 'On style'

From the NAD's dear friend Rasmenia, originally posted as a comment.

Egad... I can't take it. I've just got to spit out my 2 cents & I'll do my best not to create a mess of logorrhea on the page, here.

My opinon - for whatever it's worth - is that the days of Strunk & White are over.

Obviously, if one has the prose of the Elysian Fields endlessly streaming out of their ass, it won't matter much if they haven't yet grasped the concept of how to use quotes, commas & other dandy dots & dashes.

At the same time, the most rigid grammar Nazi isn't necessarily a good writer.

I'm very picky about each & every word when I'm writing a peice of fiction. I'm just as selective with each bit of punctuation & when MSWord (or a human being in my writer's group) tries to tell me that I shouldn't use an ellipses, or a sentence fragment, I ignore it.

Part of writing is using your own voice to make your own style & fuck the rules - THERE ARE NO RULES.

But... it still has to be readable.

So, um... yeah. What I'm saying is, I agree with Matt.


  1. THERE ARE NO RULES. Indeed.

    I am reminded of earlier this week when my two eldest (after playing Band Band) thought it would be fun to dress up as rock stars. Emily (10) got a little snotty with her younger brother Zach (6), telling him he looked stupid and that rock stars would never wear this or that... I interceded, I gave the sagest of my advice. I said: 'The only rule in rock 'n' roll is that there are no rules.', 'Really' Zach said; a special rebellious glint in his eyes, 'yep', said I, proud to implant a bit of anarchy into to their budding young souls.

  2. Rasmenia: Despite my silliness and irreverent comments here at the NAD, and despite my penchant for free-form writing, I too, am a stickler for grammar and syntax, but only to a degree; the degree being readability. After that all bets are off, as I truly appreciate unique writing styles. One cannot dismiss the power of eccentricity, of course. There are many literary gadgets like onomatopoeia, incremental repetition, and sentence frags. Case in point:

    I love sentence fragments. They are very useful. Helps speed up the flow. But not in every sentence. Throughout an entire novel.

    "The prose of the Elysian Fields endlessly streaming out of their ass" should be used sparingly, thus raising their impact exponentially through infrequent use. Less bullshit is better.

    "The most rigid grammar Nazi isn't necessarily a good writer." Yes, it's called "passive voice" and it's better utilized writing legal documents and contracts. Not for fiction (unless that happens to your style) I myself prefer "active voice" as it's more fun to read then a writ of Habeus Corpus or divorce papers. As I know you know, we don't all walk around talking like Plato and Shakespeare; we are nuanced; we are human.

    As for your wonderful comment posted here, it is a finely written piece, and deserves to be framed and made into posters for every English student to hang up on their bedroom wall. Thank you for gracing our strange pages here at the NAD.

    Write on!

  3. Wow, I never realized how long that post was. And now I'm responding to my own comment; Woe is me.


  4. I'm proud to see you introducing the most excellent rock n' roll philosophy into young minds as it will surely increase both self-esteem and taste in music. FUCK YEAH JOE!! Keep preachin' the teachins'!!

  5. Don't make me copy and paste your response to Rasmenia's response. Ye gads, it's turning into a regular writer's workshop around here.

    Oh and hey you two enough with the big words, and fancy talk, I am beginning to feel unworthy. I can sense walls popping up all over.

  6. Bullshit, sir...YOU are the editor-in-chief...NOTHING is TOO good!!

  7. Oops...I put the response on the wrong page!

    GO RASMENIA!! I'm agreeing with you for 2 reasons: you are absolutely correct and you agreed with me. Undoubtedly the best 2 reasons on Earth if you are gonna try to make a case with me! But in all seriousness, EXCELLENT post!

    SEPTEMBER 23, 2009 9:38 PM

  8. I am ecstatic that I have friends that write with style and beauty. I am just feeling a rut coming on, and I am using self-consciousness as an excuse for a lack of inspiration.

    I warned you all that I couldn't keep up this pace forever. Trying my best to catch my literary second wind.

  9. Joe, you don't give yourself enough credit. You are the master, you rock! Fight through it! NO ruts allowed! Got it? Now drop and give me 800 words! Hup hup ho hup..

  10. Wednesday's are rough, explains my rut. The kids have a half day, which means daddy spends most of it feeding them, separating them, or zooming them from this place or that. It is hard for me to find the mental wherewithal to pee let alone write, until they are asleep.

    Things have quieted down now... give me some time to mull things over. There have to be 800 words of rant out there somewhere.

  11. SHIT, YOU NEED AN EXTRA 800 word out of yourself...tell me to just post my fucking IN-BOX at gmail!

  12. Shhh, everyone, goddamn it, I am trying to cobble something together. Enough with the distraction. Why, oh why do I feel compelled to respond to everything? Shoot me.

  13. Like I said in the email....just come by me to the west side of chicago and im pretty sure we can arrange you getting shot!

  14. *ducks* Thank gawd for strong gun laws here in Canada. There I said it. Suck it NRA, and the 2nd amendment.

    Now shhhh!

  15. What? WHAT? Ooops. Sorry.

    "Students at work: Shut the fuck up." ~ library sign at the E. Gunn Hill Public Library, Brooklyn, New York.