A NEW RULE

POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

A New Rule

Okay, class, it’s time to talk about grammar.  Stop groaning. Grammar is very important to a story. Yes, I know it’s boring and I know there are way too many rules for it to be reasonable. However, we’re going to take a new approach.

The accepted guidelines for creative writing today can be found in the Chicago Manual of Style, which is a gigantic tome and anyone who has memorized the whole book deserves a giant pat on the back.  But proper punctuation and noun/verb usage is not necessarily what our lesson is about today.

Today we’re going to talk about creative grammar. Now this is not the license to throw away all the rules in the name of art. In fact, knowing what the rules are is very important to this lesson, and I’m going to add a new rule that will make punctuation become as important to your story as your characters and plot. Ready?

IT’S OKAY TO BREAK THE RULE IF YOU KNOW WHAT THE RULE IS AND WHY YOU NEED TO BREAK IT.

I have read stories where the punctuation and grammar is so perfect that the whole thing is very stiff and formal and unfriendly – and not a lot of fun to read. On the other hand, I have read a few stories where the author uses grammar and punctuation, fonts, italics, all-caps, and bolds almost as characters in the story. These authors have achieved something so mouthwatering that a magic spell is woven that forces the reader to keep reading until they see the words “The End.”

Become friends with grammar and punctuation and let it breathe life into your stories. Don’t be afraid to experiment with its uses—or lack of (as long as you know why)—and watch your story develop a beating heart and start to live.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Nandy Ekle

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