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 usually keep my mouth shut when dealing with an editor because your career is in her hands. if you piss her off, she won't do anything for your book within the house. but once after receiving an extremely odd edit letter i finally had to speak up and ask my editor if she realized she was combining six different genres, the biggest one being horror. big pause at the other end of the line. busted. after six years of our working together she finally admitted that until my books came along she'd never read anything in my genre or related genres. but by that point i'd already made the massive mistake of assuming that my editor knew what she was doing. i actually thought there must be some hot market i didn't know about where writers were combining several different genres. haha!

sorry. a bit off topic. time for my sedative.
C.M., I'm with you, buddy! I have also been raked over the coals on more than one occasion. I taught English so I know the rules. But how many folks speak perfect English? Not many. I found my own voice in writing. I think it makes for more interesting reading. I've read plenty of novels by college professors who stuck to the rules so much that the story was stilted, not as enjoyable. Why get bogged down in rules when you don't have to? I write because I love it and I have to do it. I'm having a blast. I'm glad to know there's someone else out there sticking to his guns. I'm proud to know you.
Gee, I never expected so much positive support, but as Ms Frasier says, we don't want to piss the editor off, expecially in my case, because I'm hoping to sell two more books to her.
Thanks to everyone for all your remarks. I never expected to see such a great response.
Well, Ms. Frasier is right that you should be careful. In my case, I haven't experienced getting much help from editors or anyone else, so I'm more inclined to snap back. However, as I said earlier, the sort of thing you mention is usually a copy editor's comment. Copy editors are not in the same class as editors when it comes to clout. Often that work is farmed out by the publisher. It's a kind of home industry, though some publishers have in-house copy editors. I'm guessing here, but my assumption is that editors are frequently young and ambitious to climb the publishing house ladder via acquiring bestselling books, while copy editors are older, perhaps retired from teaching, and do this part-time.

As for dealing with overly energetic copy editors (they do work extremely hard at filling every page with red corrections) when you have taught English: it's frustrating and irritating, but I'm a sensible creature and when I disagree, I check my handbooks. Having a STET stamp made helps.
In one instance I followed a misspelled work by (sic) in blue ink, and the editor asked what that was.
Frankly I couldn't agree more... just who the heck do these publishers think they are? GOD?

I feel as you do C.M. what would be the point of writing an original piece of fiction, if you had to adhere to every single rule of grammar, punctuation etc., Often when I writing, I get a load of green lines beneath the text from the Microsft Word auto Grammar checker telling me the senetence is too long, or the way the sentence is structured is wrongly phrased. Sometimes I read through and make the suggested change, just in case when I send it off, the publisher/literary agent may think more kindly of my material, and it has a greater chance of going forward.
But as you say, how can something be original, if every story has to conform to certain rules? To me, that takes a great deal of the fullness of the plot and the characters away.
Umm, originality does not extend to making grammar mistakes -- not unless the character speaking it the type who would.
Correct grammar isn't always appropriate and if an editor doesn't get that then they're not doing the job right.

I wonder if Cormac McCarthy would have won the Pulitzer for THE ROAD if he used quotation marks for dialogue, put all his apostrophes back in and pulled out his out-of-place obscure words?

Well, probably, but it wouldn't have as much personality.


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