June 7, 2012

5 Writing "Mistakes" I Like

Monday's post highlighted my Top 10 Writing Pet Peeves, so it seemed only fitting that I follow it up with some "mistakes" I find appealing.

5 Writing "Mistakes" I Like

Sentence Fragments
I can't think of one English teacher back in the day who would have tolerated sentence fragments. Every time I use one, I imagine it circled in red with a sad face. But I find myself drawn to them for emphasis. Short and powerful.

Starting a Sentence with And or But
I'm seeing red marks again. Teachers hated this, probably still do. I see the allure, I must admit. Sure, it can get gimmicky and overused. But a well-placed and or but sentence starter can stand strong alone, instead of getting lost in a compound sentence.

Adverbs

The road to hell is paved with adverbs.
Stephen King

I disagree, with a caveat. They should be used sparingly and powerfully. Despite King's famous quote and my utmost respect for him, I think the road to hell is paved with poor editing. A well-used adverb won't jar me as a reader like a pretentious verb will. And they are a must in dialogue. Let's be fair, people love their adverbs.

Just
Maybe it's because I'm from the south and we love our justs, but sometimes just just says it all. Please, if you have a southern character, use it. If you want a southern character in your writing and have never visited the south, please contact me. I'm from there, and my mother is from Georgia. Like all things we love, don't overdo it. Chocolate's not bad for you in moderation. Neither is just.

Ending a Sentence with a Preposition
Grammar purists, and I consider myself darn close to one, everywhere just cringed. This is something, however, I can simply put up with. Even wrap my head around. Again, my southern upbringing might be to blame. Sometimes, it sounds pretentious and over the top to work around preposition endings. But I do hate when people ask, "Where you going to?" when a simple "Where are you going?" would suffice. But if you have a deep-south character, do the first sentence. Trust me (see just example above).

Note: All of these mistakes I like in fiction and creative writing. Journalism has always been, and should be, a different breed of writing. It's a follow-the-rules kind of game.

What writing "mistakes" do you like?

10 comments:

Susan Oloier said...

This is great, Tia. I particularly like sentence fragments and think how much it was instilled in us to write complete sentences.

I am with King, though. I am not a huge fan of adverbs. At times, they seem like lazy writing to me. Just my small, humble opinion.

Love the post!

Sonja Haller said...

I agree. I agree. I agree. I agree. I agree! :) Grammar teachers beware.

Unknown said...

Susan, Adverbs are tricky. I could be swayed either way, but I hate getting rid of a whole word group. :-)

Sonja, I hope none of my English teachers read this. :-)

JANU said...

I love to break the rules....grammar, that is proper grammar is something I never follow. Great post.

Sun Hee Yoon / 윤선희 said...

This is very interesting post to me. I am very conscious not to make any mistakes, and this post slack me off. I needed it! :)
As I learned English in ESL (English as a Second Language)environment, I've been always curious about what rules are in creative non-fiction writing in terms of grammar or punctuation.
I'm learning a lot from my writing group. They are patient folks! (I love them!)

Jo Michaels said...

I love this:

"I disagree, with a caveat. They should be used sparingly and powerfully. Despite King's famous quote and my utmost respect for him, I think the road to hell is paved with poor editing. A well-used adverb won't jar me as a reader like a pretentious verb will. And they are a must in dialogue. Let's be fair, people love their adverbs."

I think a smattering of adverbs is the way to go (especially in dialogue) but if you paint the scene well, you shouldn't need them. I would say MOST of them can be removed.

My pet peeve? Pronouns. People use he she it they and have named the wrong person.

Great post!

WRITE ON!

Julie Glover said...

Awesome! And a big "Amen." I agree with every one. I loved my junior English teacher who said that you can break the rules after you know them. That's true with all you say. You don't break grammar "rules" because you're lazy or uninformed; it's done for effect. A fragment sentence has a powerful effect when used properly. Love this post, Tia. Want to tweet it 12 times!

Kate @ Teaching What Is Good said...

Love your list!! I'm not as much of a grammar nazi as some of my relations are, but I really love the items on your list...particularly ending a sentence with a preposition. Sometimes it is just way too awkward to do otherwise.

Unknown said...

Janu, I'm learning to break the rules. It feels naughty to a grammar geek like me, but I like naughty when used appropriately. ;-)

Sun Hee, I can only imagine the difficulty of learning the ins and outs of our grammar rules. I still learn something new every single day!

Jo, I agree. I love first person, but I get sick of IIIIIIIIII.

Julie, You are so sweet, and I do appreciate your tweets. Grammar Girls Unite!

Unknown said...

Kate. So true. Your heart comes through your writing, and there's nothing more special than that. Hugs. ;-)