Writerly Wednesdays

Grammar Police: You are Under a Rest

What if there were grammar police? Imagine having a bench warrant for your arrest based on the syntax you murdered in your Facebook post. Perhaps you robbed the preposition store because you couldn’t afford a direct object? Or worse, you played Hallmark cards and cheated using a split infinitive.

The rules are in place for a reason. There is a minimum expectation that you will understand what I write. The entire enterprise is pounded into our brains, starting with some must-watch viewing: Sesame Street.

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When we follow the rules, our idea or story is clear. Stephen King would approve of this message, especially since his writing precision has kept millions of people awake.

When we don’t follow the rules, we’re creating art. We’re leading scared people into a dark cave to explore the depths. No one knows where it will lead or if you both will survive. William Faulkner approves. You have one tool—a torch. You must shine a light to illuminate the darkness. In other words, the artist knows why they’re treading into new territory, and they know how to do it. And what’s more, the people who follow the artist generally know they’re in for a ride. When you don’t follow writing rules and your readers expect good grammar, it’s similar to dragging people underground without their permission, and they may object.

If you are debating whether to follow grammar rules or not, follow grammar rules. What book does the grammar police read and enforce? Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. Please read it, heed it, and believe it.

Beliefs represented by individual authors are not necessarily shared by all members of ICW.


  • Peter Leavell

    Peter Leavell, a graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history and a MA in English Literature, was the 2011 winner of the Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest and 2013 Christian Retailing’s Best award for First-Time Author, along with multiple other awards. An author, blogger, teacher, ghostwriter, jogger, biker, husband, and father, Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. Learn more about Peter’s books, research, and family adventures at www.peterleavell.com

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