Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for SENTENCE

 
   I'm firmly in the camp of 'I know how to drive a car, but don't ask me what an exhaust manifold is'. That is, I understand operation, but the mechanics behind it get a little sketchy.
     To an extent, I have the same mindset with writing. I'm good with story structure, dialogue, setting, character development and all that important stuff which goes into writing a great story. But ask me to diagram a sentence beyond the basics? Nuh-uh.
     A few years ago, I bought The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White. It's a slim little volume of grammar rules, a go-to guide for writers who want to brush up on the principles of plain English. That edition even had pretty watercolor illustrations by Maira Kalman — a bonus!
     I've always relied on my ear when writing. I'm pretty good at reading aloud and hearing when something is off, but not knowing why has always bothered me. Now I can spot a participial phrase and independent clause with one eye closed, thanks to The Elements of Style.
   I'm pretty sure I'm not the only writer who's grammatically-challenged. Should I be self-conscious about checking rules now and again, even though I've been writing professionally since my college days? Nah. If anyone questions me, I'll claim to be admiring the illustrations.

6 comments:

  1. AHHH!!! NOT DIAGRAMMING SENTENCES! I hated that back when I had to do it it middle school! I still have nightmares about it! Kidding-- sort of.....

    my blog: morgankatz505.blogspot.com

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    1. I wonder if there's a site for sentence diagram exercises?! What a great way to warm up every morning for writing - kidding!!

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  2. I always thought I couldn't write because my technical knowledge of English was, erm... limited. I passed Grammar and Rhetoric in college, but everything I've read since high school broke the rules. Because breaking the rules is art. That's my story, anyway, and I'm sticking to it!!

    I'm stopping by from the A to Z challenge. My blog is parked at aleasa.net; I hope you'll come visit! :)

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    1. I like your version of breaking rules; your blog is great fun! Thanks for stopping by, Aleasa.

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  3. You don't know what a relief it is for me to finally meet a writer who willingly admits she is grammatically challenged. Because I have problems with which prepositions to use and sometimes I lapse with keeping all verbs in the same tense and other good stuff, I ask my favorite copy editor, the Husband, to review my work before I submit it. Hurrah! for very good copy editors.

    Don't be a Hippie
    Take 25 to Hollister

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    1. You're so lucky to have an in-house copy editor! And as far as my 'admission' goes, it's the first step of recovery! My grammar skills are a work-in-progress.

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