Writers love language. That’s why we work in it. Because we love it, letting our minds bathe in it whenever we can, and because our reverence demands we use our voices to say what we need to say in the languages we know and love best.
Languages have rules. If they didn’t possess parameters, they would be an unruly collection of syllables spoken haphazardly. Nothing more. Writers must learn what the rules are, and how and when to follow them.
An example of such a rule is the personal address comma. It saves lives. In my opinion, a writer can’t ever forget to use it.
“Let’s eat, Grandma,” I said as my grandmother came down the stairs to dinner.
That sentence is very different from one without the all-important comma.
“Let’s eat Grandma.”
Who wants to be a cannibal? Not me, and I’m guessing you don’t, either.
As the editing process continues (it’s a lot of work, and don’t ever let anyone tell you any different), I am realizing that–as much as I appreciate the rules I have spent years learning and applying–I need to remind myself now and again that it is perfectly okay, once you know the rules and how they function, to break a rule here or there. Maybe even to throw a rule away, if you’re feeling particularly bold.
Not the personal address comma rule, though. That one should remain in place. It saves lives.
But most rules are there for you as guideposts; they are not hard and fast this is the way it must bes.
If your work calls for the breaking of a rule, don’t be afraid to do just that.
This was as much a blog post as it was a pep talk I decided to give to myself. I hope it helps you as much as seeing the words in print has assisted me.