In writing in general, but particularly in creative writing, no part of grammar can be overlooked. But it’s also true that no part of grammar should be worshipped either.
Fact is, how we write depends on the content of our story, on the style we choose to tell it, on what the aim of our telling is, and a million of other things.
For example, in a novel, to describe the route someone must follow, we may resort to descriptions relating to the colors and the smells of the landscape. We may also describe the feelings of the character.
Instead, in a street guide we would most likely heavily rely on words related to the concepts of distance and direction.
I mean, if we tried to explain to someone how to reach a certain place, but we did so using exclusively words related to colors and feelings instead of distance and direction, in no time we would come up with some sentences that aren’t exactly efficient.
ο Go straight on for one mile and then turn on your left.
ο Go yellow for a naughty while and then blue on happy.
ο First follow the smell of gasoline. Then the reek coming from the dump. You’ll see it, when you feel a lump of fear in your throat.
Of course, in the above examples the concept of choice and how it relates to contextual factors, is glaringly obvious. But when we write we make a staggering number of choices that, even though a lot less obvious, can nonetheless add up pretty fast and give our text a unique flavor.
Just think of:
ο Who –> whom
ο You and me –> you and I
ο Begin to cry –> begin crying
ο Open the window –> could you open the window?
ο Lift –> elevator…
ο I think that you –> I think you
Indeed, in creative writing, choices are so many that, even if we know pretty well how grammar works, often the texts we come up with, in terms of coherence, need some vigorous scrubbing.
I mean, one day we might feel grumpy and consequently veer toward a dark and dry style. Then, maybe, the subsequent day we might feel happy and confident and decide to take a flight of fancy.
Many other things can influence the way we write. How frothy our morning cappuccino was. When it was that we took our last vacation. Or read a great book–no, our own don’t count. Continue reading