Go Your Own Way - A Writer's Creed

Some would have us believe that when it comes to Written English, there is always a right answer, when in fact certain Ďrulesí are to some degree flexible.

Yes, when it comes to grammar and spelling, there are Ďrulesí. The novice is obliged to listen and learn them. However, there comes a time in most writerís lives when they realize that most of these rules are broken Ė and perhaps should be broken Ė often and regularly.

Experimentation and refinement is not altogether a bad thing.

Yes, errors jar. But a good writer can Ė and should Ė occasionally break the rules for effect and to show up the inadequacies of the language.

Thereís nothing wrong with inventing new words either. Itís actually a great literary tradition. Shakespeare did it, as did James Joyce, even Stephen King often uses the word Ďinsectileí which I have yet find in a standard dictionary! But itís a great word, isnít it? And Iím sure you can guess exactly what it means.

The point Iím trying to make is that once you consider yourself a writer, and you know the rules, you are perfectly entitled to go your own way.

Words are your tools. You are the craftsman. Use them as you see fit.

And itís not just words.

There are lots of theories about how you should construct plots and prose. Some teachers can get very uppity about them. Theyíll tell you in what order to introduce elements like scene setting, description, internal monologue. When you can and canít do certain things. The same teachers usually have a battery of texts (from dead authors) to quote from to prove their point.

Donít listen to them!

Take on board what they have to say but ask yourself if these rules are appropriate to your own writing. If not, ignore them!

Of course sloppy and undisciplined writing is unforgivable but a fresh new voice with the occasional gaffe can be a joy to read.

Writing is not a static art. Nothing is set in stone.

Writing is a lifelong learning experience. If writing is to be good, challenging and of value, it should be as refreshing and liberating as life itself.

©robparnell 2003