My apologies, gentle readers. A month and a half since the last post. Don’t know where the time’s gone. Rewrite on two novels, a passel of query letters sent out, and … oh, quit with the excuses. Reminds of my gentleman cousin, Gamble Rogers. He used to say, “Life’s what happens when you’re making other plans.” Guess keeping up the blog got drowned in life.
ANYway, I’ve been running into an issue in writing lately that has me stumped: grammar. Specifically, how precisely to follow grammatical rules in writing, particularly in dialog. On the one hand, John McWhorter (Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue and others) points out that the language is always in motion and often intimates that the “rules” we follow are dated. On the other hand, a shared grammar should give the most possible meaning to those words we write.
The difficulty I have is bridging the gap between real speech, which has available to it gestures and visual cues to help meaning along. We also tolerate and edit out imprecision, along with meaningless y’knows, umms, and so on.
Written dialog needs to be clean and economical while sounding natural. It’s a delicate balance. I try to stay grammatical, but occasionally find my characters sounding stuffy as a result. (That’s what rewrite is for, right?)
I won’t even start on punctuation.