Thursday, March 7, 2013

Grammar?

I'm just expressing a view on whether grammar has to be absolutely correct in fiction. There are people out there who even try to apply AP Style (which is for news writing).

The answer? The words need to tell the story. Now, this does not mean that a fiction writer gets to ignore all the rules of grammar and punctuation. (Some literary writers do pull things like leaving out punctuation marks or not capitalizing anything, but that's doing it for effect not to be sloppy, and is only acceptable in certain kinds of work).

Work needs to be readable. But if an editor starts spazzing about the use or the non-use of the Oxford comma...then you might have a problem. (Some publishers do have a house rule about it for consistency, which is fine, but neither version is actually considered "wrong").

You can be more flexible with grammar in dialog, although again, you need to keep things readable. And consistent - if you're making an error to indicate a character's voice, then make that error every time it comes up...these can be great quirks, but can fall down at the editing stage.

The key, really, is to relax about it. If it reads well, your readers won't care unless they're professional copy editors - and sometimes not even then.