Recently my editor admonished me for beginning sentences with And or But.
I've heard that before.

My take:

I believe that it's import to learn proper grammar, etc, just as it's important for a painter to learn the rules of painting before expressing his or her Inner Soul, but if they had stuck to the rules, we'd have no Van Goghs or Picassos, like them or not.

After Joyce, Fowles and some others, it came to me that the novelist can write any damned thing he/she wants to. The editor may not like it, the publisher may not publish it and the reader may ignore it, but the novelist has a right to write it.

For proper expression, I feel the rules can—and sometimes should—be bent or even broken, to best express what the writer is trying to get across.

If you think I'm all wrong, start kicking me. Just no steel-toed boots, please.

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I can't kick. I do it too. I think it's the way we speak--and that writing should reflect that. The interesting thing to me about writing is that all the gurus are on you to develop your own style and then when you do, they try to correct it.
I write first person, and my protagonist does sometimes start a sentence with 'and' or 'but'. I haven't gotten yelled at for it yet, probably because it just sounds like her personality and the way she thinks coming out.
I start with "and" or "but" so frequently that it's almost a style characteristic. There's nothing wrong with it. Sometimes emphasis or an effort to keep sentences from becoming too long promotes this. Sometimes the prose rhythm (mostly for the "and" sentences) requires it. None of my editors has ever objected. Not even the copy editors, who can sometimes drive you batty with peculiar preferences. As long as you know the rules, I'd say, stick to your guns. Copy editors frequently assume that authors can't write correctly. And some authors can't.
I actually don't believe that writing should reflect the way we speak, unless it's dialog and character-specific. But genre writing tends to be more relaxed than, say, literary fiction.
If nearly every sentence is starting with And or But (or similar) then, it would stand out to me. The occaisional and or but to start a sentence is natural flow. But perhaps sometimes, those separate sentences could be combined. Sometimes that makes for a stronger sentence that two short ideas, and one of those ideas starts with 'and' or 'but.'

Of course, anything repitious has a tendency to stand out.

I don't know if this is why it's been commented on, but I figured I'd offer my opinion anyway.
Thanks for everyone's positive reaction. I feel better already. I certainly agree that too many if's and's or but's would be distracting. Now that I vented, I feel much better. :D
sometimes editors don't know as much as we/they think they know.
Righto! Take a look sometime: they are frequently fresh out of college.
Amen. A former editor rejected my police procedural, saying she already had two other cozies in the works. Another told me I could not use contractions in narrative; only in dialogue.
We just have to smile and keep going.
I was also told by an editor that the narration had to follow the rules but dialogue didn't. I work very hard to make sure every word in my novels is from a character's pov and that there be no narrator's voice (no one wants to hear me going on and on).

We really have to fight for our own books.
Contractions are almost the rule these days in mystery fiction. I only use them in dialog, but that doesn't mean anything. I'm still dealing with the premature death of "whom."
With the increased importance of "voice" in fiction, I think we're starting to see a wider variety of voices which I think is great. Too much rule following can make for too similar sounding writing.

Of course, too much of the same kind of rule breaking can also make for too similar sounding fiction.

Like anything else you see fads come and go. For a while everything was Raymond Carver-style sparse and now there's a lot of Michael Chabon-style wordy prose.

I guess what I'm after - the elimination of the narrator's voice completely - is also just another fad. Just happens to be one I like.
I agree completely. Rules are made to be broken, but only after you've learned them. And :) when you have good reason.

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