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Writing Tip 30 - The line between correct and right

08/09/2021

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Walking the line between "grammatically correct" and "what sounds right to you/how people think/read" can be a tricky one.

Walk too close to grammar and you can lose your style and put unnecessary stress on yourself, which trust me, I know from personal experience that it's a bitch to get that back and can even make it difficult to enjoy writing. And walking too far from grammar can leave you with a pile of goopy word-vomit that's uncomfortable and hard to read and doesn't get across what you want it to.

Neither way is wrong, but the only right way is the one you like. So personally I suggest writing in the way you speak and then go back and "edit" it to the way you read.

You can walk as close or as far as you like from grammar, and as long as it reads the way you intend, that's how it should be.

Knowing grammar can be really useful for figuring out how exactly to write what you're trying to say. There's a saying for this actually, 'You have to know the rules to break them. And you have to break them in order to know why they're important.'

When you lose your balance on this line -- and you will -- the best way to get back on it is to go back and read your oldest stuff. Try to remember and relearn how you started writing. Most people write with stream of consciousness when they start, and that's a good way to figure out what you like.

It's not bad to stick to what you like. Change is good and trying things is good, but that doesn't mean you have to give up the parts you like. So if those parts you like aren't "correct" don't sweat it, because for you they're "right".

 

Bonus:

If you' feel like you've lost your style, go back and read some of the stuff that you read and thought "I want to write like this" and go back to the stories that made you want to write.

And if you're well and truly desperate, an interesting idea to try is to write without punctuation. Write something without using any punctuation at all, and then when you go back and reread and edit, put the punctuation in as you go, for how meant for it to be read.

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