And You Never Forget the Lies Your English Teacher Told You

Lisa Muzaffar Kusko tells it like it is here.  The old school arbitrary “rules” of English really stick in the mind. I still find myself as I write fiction, struggling over these. Even in my MFA a professor pointed out that “He runs like he’s being chased by the devil” should be “He runs as though he is being chased by the devil.”  But I prefer the latter and so apparently does Rick Riordan. You’ll have to read his books if you don’t believe me.

When one is writing fiction, especially modern toned fiction aimed at young readers, one needs not be so concerned with grammatical propriety. One hopes, anyway.

I’ve had editors correct  my grammar. I’ve also had editors “uncorrect” my grammar, that is, change a grammatical phrase into something less formal. Starting sentences with ‘but’ for example.  My latest book, coming out from Lorimer next spring is a “hi/lo” book, written with subject matter at about grade 6 level, but a reading level of about grade 3. I kept this in mind as I wrote and it didn’t impede me really, but when the book went to the editor a few changes were made. “Clarity” is the reasoning here, not grammar or style, “clarity”. I like that actually. It’s like screenwriting that way.

So, do we struggle to maintain the formality of “correct” English or do we let our language evolve?


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