Dusty Old Writing Rules

When I wrote my first Nano story, one of the girls harped on me because she had this huge pet peeve against people who started sentences with conjunctions. But (har har) it wasn’t conjunctions, namely it was starting a sentence with the words “And” or “But” — which she said was the mark of a bad writer. Why? Because it’s bad grammar. If you look around, many best selling authors are selling books that make use of conjunctions at the beginning of a sentence. Personally, I think it packs more of a punch sometimes.

Now, I can see why one might not want to use “And” or “But” at the beginning of a sentence in an official document. I do believe it’s actually accepted to use conjunctions on non-formal writing. I also believe novels, short stories, and roleplay posts would count as non formal. Especially the latter. I mean, come on. It’s a roleplay post. What are you going to do, grade me on it?

It’s all about personal preference. Some writers genuinely don’t like it. I have my own personal preferences. While reading, if there is too much telling, it reads like a book aimed at the very young. I don’t like my writing to be overly simplistic. At the same time, I despise purple prose and I think if you’re abusing a thesaurus just to sound smart, all you really end up doing is looking pretentious. It comes across as if you want everybody to think “Wow, what an extensive vocabulary!” There’s a time and a place for those five dollar words and I can tell you that it’s not in every single sentence you write.

I don’t believe in a lot of dusty old writing rules. Adverbs are brilliant when used correctly and one of my favorite authors in the world, Diana Wynne Jones, uses them. A sentence in one of her novels that had me rolling happened to make good use of an adverb. To be quite honest, I don’t even think that sentence would have read as humorously if it hadn’t used an adverb. I’ll agree that too many of them tend to make a story or passage look lazy; there are times where you can get the same feeling across without using an adverb. But not to use them at all? Pfft.

Some of my favorite authors (Stephen King, for one) have even cited these rules as rubbish in their non fiction books on writing. Should I take the advice of these best-selling authors, or some no-name girl at a Nano event? Hm… <–That right there is another thing. Ellipses. My English teacher in college berated me mercilessly for its usage. I’ll tell you right now; I love ellipses. Love ’em, love ’em, love ’em — and I’ll continue to use them.

I think when you’re writing, you need to write organically. Write using your character’s voice. Don’t be afraid to think outside those old rules.

If you don’t believe me, then check these links out for more information!

Grammar Rules to Break


Coordinating Conjunctions

Rachel Aseltine

R.A. Aseltine is an author and roleplayer living in California with her husband, guinea pig, and five cats.

Leave a Reply