This is topic Hello and Beginning Sentences with And/Or/But in forum Open Discussions About Writing at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by cynicalpen (Member # 9378) on :
Hello everyone!

Is it frowned upon to begin sentences with And/But/Or if you are doing so for flow purposes?

Also, I tend to use the word "so" a lot. In many cases I feel it is performing a useful function in the sentence (believe it or not) but I average about 2 so's per page. To what extent will that injure my chances of piquing an agent's interest?

Posted by PB&Jenny (Member # 9200) on :
And once again we have the dreaded and/but/or question. Not to be confused with the who/what/where questions. There is only one thing to say about it. Don't.

But if your story is such that one of those words must be used because it is absolutely the only way to express what you need to convey to the reader... then good luck with that.

Or if you find yourself at the point of running out of any other words entirely and feel that you must revert back to an and/but/or word, then knock yourself out.

However, non of what I just wrote is to be believed or considered to be of any use to anybody. Even me. I'm just being facetious - I hope.

Posted by J. N. Khoury (Member # 9361) on :
I think it's completely acceptable to begin a sentence with a conjunction. Thirty, forty years ago? Not so much. But truth is, there are many things which are acceptable in writing today which were taboo when we learned grammar from Mrs. Magoo in third grade. Pick up the latest fiction on the shelf - I bet you'll find a whole passel of such sentences. My college English professors even admitted to the inevitability of this very shift in grammar--albeit they did so begrudgingly.

As writers, its really up to us to either preserve the methods of the past, or reforge those methods for the future. And me, I'd side with the latter.

Posted by aspirit (Member # 7974) on :
Use whatever words you need to use when you need to use them to convey the message you want. Many popular authors--including Orson Scott Card--have started sentences in their fiction with a conjunction. More important is to not overuse these words. They add a punch, and readers don't want to feel like they're in a boxing ring with the writer.

[This message has been edited by aspirit (edited January 11, 2011).]

Posted by genevive42 (Member # 8714) on :
Basically, don't overuse them as sentence starters. If you find you need to use them a lot, you might consider varying your sentence structure more.

Also, beware of 'so', depending on how you're using it. It tends to make the narrator's voice intrude on the exposition. Most of the time you don't want that. (Of course, that depends on a lot of factors as well.)

Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :

I try to avoid starting a sentence with those words but sometimes it just seems like but works better. And even though some editors seem not to like it I have seen published stories where it was used. (Shoulder Shrug) it might depend on the editor and most probably how many times you do it and why.

As has been said it's best not to give the editor any more reasons to reject your story. But some didn't seem to care about that. From stories I have read.

Posted by Reziac (Member # 9345) on :
I use such constructions if needed for rhythm or flow (I don't actually stand there thinking about it; flow "happens"). But it's not something you want to overdo, or you wind up sounding like the KJV.
Posted by Grayson Morris (Member # 9285) on :
The Chicago Manual of Style has absolutely no issue with beginning sentences with these words. I quote from section 5.206 of the Manual (16th edition):

There is a widespread belief—one with no historical or grammatical foundation—that it is an error to begin a sentence with a conjunction such as and, but, or so. In fact, a substantial percentage (often as many as 10 percent) of the sentences in first-rate writing begin with conjunctions. It has been so for centuries, and even the most conservative grammarians have followed this practice.

That said, everyone has preferences, and someone (or several someones) reading your writing will no doubt be ripped out of your story by a sentence beginning with a conjunction. The rest will be ripped out of your story if you avoid doing so, by the contorted writing you've had to resort to. ;-)

Posted by JohnColgrove (Member # 9236) on :
I asked my english teacher from high school about this one time and she said you can do it but you have to know how. There's a right and a wrong way to start off a sentance with those words. Unfortunately I do not remember how to do that otherwise I would definately share it.
Posted by Grayson Morris (Member # 9285) on :
CMOS on how to do it properly:

Still, but as an adversative conjunction can occasionally be unclear at the beginning of a sentence. Evaluate the contrasting force of the but in question, and see whether the needed word is really and; if and can be substituted, then but is almost certainly the wrong word. Consider this example:

He went to school this morning. But he left his lunch box on the kitchen table.

Between those sentences is an elliptical idea, since the two actions are in no way contradictory. What is implied is something like this:

He went to school, intending to have lunch there, but he left his lunch behind.

Because and would have made sense in the passage as originally stated, but is not the right word—the idea for the contrastive but should be explicit. To sum up, then, but is a perfectly proper word to open a sentence, but only if the idea it introduces truly contrasts with what precedes. For that matter, but is often an effective word for introducing a paragraph that develops an idea contrary to the one preceding it.

Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
I'd say it was a "convention," rather than an ironclad rule. But I wouldn't worry about it, unless you did it too much...
Posted by TamesonYip (Member # 9072) on :
I think Grayson's point is very important. But should contradict. If it doesn't, it is the wrong word. I tend to use and/but/so a lot and it drives me husband nuts. Using them less I think has helped my writing. I haven't elminated, but I do look at why I am doing it now.

Another interesting thing to consider is how those words affect the flow. One blog writer said go start a conversation with someone and start every sentence that way. It gets very annoying. Every sentence blurs together into one and the other person can't get a word in. Once or twice works, but if you are doing it several times a paragraph, it is probably too much. Perhaps in an action scene that you want to be exhausting...

Posted by tchernabyelo (Member # 2651) on :
It depends on your sentences.

"He looked up at her. And she reached out a hand to help him up." doesn't really work - either drop the "And" completely, or merge into a single setnence. And yet...

"He looked up at her. And she smiled." That deliberate pause, turning the second part into a separate sentence, yet retaining the "and", makes the smile much more significant.

So clearly there are places where this kind of constructino works, but it's all contextual so there can be no absolute "yes, it's fine/no, it's not" application of the rule.

On the other point: overusaing ANY word is generally a bad idea.

Posted by MartinV (Member # 5512) on :
I found myself using 'and' to begin sentences in my current work. It doesn't mean I'll keep them to the final draft but I do like the effect it makes. So far.
Posted by cynicalpen (Member # 9378) on :
Thanks everyone for your replies, thoughts, comments, and insights. I don't feel so bad about using the conjuctions that way, I just hope I don't do so too much. I'll have to take a good hard look at each instance and evaluate it.

What I'm also curious about, though, is has anyone ever heard of an agent rejecting a manuscript (or refusing to see one) because of an overuse of conjunctive sentence starters?

Posted by Foste (Member # 8892) on :
I see it often enough, but I'd be careful not to overdo it.
Posted by tchernabyelo (Member # 2651) on :
No, but agents do not always give specific reasons why they reject manuscripts.

I am sure that some agents look more closely, or with different eyes, than others. I have no doubt that some agents would have laughed at James Joyce or Russell Hoban and dismissed their efforts as meritless. If you truly believe there is merit in your particular, chosen style, then you must do two things:
1). Persevere with it.
2). Accept that not everyone will hail you as a genius.

Posted by coralm (Member # 9274) on :
I also find myself using a lot of 'so's. Likely you use quite a bit when you talk, I know I do. I take most of them out when I revise because they stand out to me during that process. I leave the occasional one for emphasis, mostly in dialogue, I think. You really don't need them and should probably take them out.

Just like that pesky "really" that slipped in there. I'm not editing it out, just to prove I'm as guilty as anyone with these.


Posted by Osiris (Member # 9196) on :
OSC has an interesting point about this, I forget where I read it. Basically, he noticed a tendency to begin sentences with 'And' sometimes, and realized that there was a Biblical connection. Basically, the Bible begins many sentences with the word 'And' and if memory serves correctly, OSC states that beginning sentences with this conjunction in your own work can impart an air of divinity or momentousness to the sentence.
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
Very enlightening, Osiris.
And topical.

I recently began a dream-derived story; a cautonary tale that begins, "And then I was in the pit of Hell. It looked like Macy's or J.C. Penny's."

I debated whether to use "And" at the beginning of the first or the second sentence. I decided on the former to suggest the sense of a continuing moment and disorientation, which was how I originally experienced it in dream.

It is a literary artifice with which I was familiar, but could not recall from where, and it seemed appropriate for this particular tale.

Dr. Bob

Posted by Grayson Morris (Member # 9285) on :
Dr. Bob, I've had that very same dream. ;-)
Posted by Osiris (Member # 9196) on :
"And then I was in the pit of Hell."

A perfect example!

Posted by MattLeo (Member # 9331) on :
If your prose draws attention to itself, it should do it for a good reason. Reader attention is a precious resource. You don't want to spend a reader's attention without accomplishing something in return.

Nonstandard grammar and usage draw attention to themselves. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but it usually is. So I think you don't look at a writing quirk you have and say, "well that's just my voice." A reader may well respond to that by saying, "Yes, but your voice is annoying." When one of your quirks pops up, you should look at a more conventional way of phrasing things, then ask yourself, "Which works better"? If you deviate from the standard style of composition, you'd better develop an ear for what you sound like, rather than writing that way unconsciously.

I think you also have to consider the function of what you are writing. Are you narrating action? Painting a scene? Laying out dialog? I think each of these can be a little bit different.

In dialog, anything goes as far as grammar, usage and vocabulary, but the principle of not squandering attention still applies. The way characters talk should tell us something about them, but if the character's speech grates on us, that had better be what you want. That frequently happens in sci-fi and fantasy, where characters mouths are so often full of annoying jargon, or thrillers, where the characters speak in slang.

On the other hand, a character whose dialog sounds like a carefully composed college essay had better be a school teacher. If everyone in a story talks that way, the artificiality of that may fade into the background, but the characters will sound bland and identical. I think a light touch is best when you're attempting an informal or slangy style of dialog, or you risk sounding like a 1930s pulp magazine.

First person narration is a close cousin to dialog. It should be somewhere between dialog, which is extemporaneous and informal, and essay writing, which is carefully composed and revised. The narrator should sound somewhat like he sounds in dialog, but a little more self-consciously thought out, as if he were telling this story.

I also think a soupçon of the POV character's voice is sometimes beneficial in third person narration.

Even essays don't have to be written in the same, identical, bland voice. Good essays often sound lively and colorful, so different from the battleship gray prose we were taught to churn out in school; but if you break a rule, you'd better know you're doing it and know what the effect will be.

Posted by dmsimone (Member # 10502) on :
I'm resurrecting an older thread to get everyone's perspective on the use of and/but/because (because is not discussed above) to start a sentence.

The consensus here seems to allow these words to start a sentence.

What would an editor/agent prefer? To follow grammar rules strictly? I feel like a writer needs to be able to master the craft before he/she bends the rules.
Posted by Grumpy old guy (Member # 9922) on :
As a writer I find the idea of starting a sentence with a conjunction complete anathema; I find it almost impossible to do on purpose, let alone by accident.

As an Editor, it's a deal killer. A sure sign the writer has an insufficient grasp of vocabulary and of how to construct a sentence beyond that of basic grade school.


[ June 29, 2016, 04:27 AM: Message edited by: Grumpy old guy ]
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
If you can replace the period at the end of the previous sentence with a comma, probably it's a mistake to begin the sentence with a conjunction.
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
You're writing fiction, not a Master's thesis. People start with conjunctions when they talk in real life, so why not when people talk in fiction (including narrators)?

But don't do it in every sentence, because that's obnoxious. [Wink]
Posted by Grumpy old guy (Member # 9922) on :
Dialogue is not the issue, narrative prose is. One is to the other as drunken ramblings are to Tennyson.

Robert, what?????

wetwilly, in writing a thesis starting a sentence with a conjunction just may be acceptable. Just not in prose.


[ June 29, 2016, 08:28 AM: Message edited by: Grumpy old guy ]
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
Appropriate use of connective words -- conjunctions, prepositions, conjunctive adverbs, connective pronouns -- consume many pages in grammar and composition handbooks, style manuals, usage dictionaries, and commentaries about composition flukes and fancies and stellar accomplishments. Those are too voluminous to regurgitate here.

Other large scope connective tissue considerations matter more in general and specific cases. Few laws, so to speak, govern expression overall, and fewer govern exceptions. The several laws that do govern expression entail concepts of unity, force, ease of reading and comprehension, and prose's similar considerations of dramatic intent and continuity.

For example, a conjunction at the start of a composition, Rudyard Kipling's "If—" starts with that conjunction. A conjunction word use at the start of a composition, let alone the title word, is otherwise an egregious grammar contravention. "If" starts ten subsequent lines, too. The repetition, as well, entails unity, force, and ease and fulfills the dramatic intent and continuity functions. The poem is a periodic sentence. Also worth note that, though the poem is about matters of large substance, "If—" is as well about this very matter of expression and composition free will -- and the choices and consequences thereof.

On the other hand, connectives in general are much misused by the less-than literate to cram more than one idea into a sentence or composition unit, and unintentionally creates confusion in general. Exceptions, though. Osiris' Scriptures observation up-thread exemplifies sentence-start conjunction and use artfully -- and use both as sentence (and chapter and verse) start conjunctions and for dramatic force and continuity intents.
Originally posted by dmsimone:
What would an editor/agent prefer? To follow grammar rules strictly? I feel like a writer needs to be able to master the craft before he/she bends the rules.

More guidelines, really, than rules. However, more often for learners who were taught there are rules to abide, they learned their teachers' sentiments and parrot those throughout the rest of their lives and never know otherwise.

Generally, a connective start or end word could interdict laws of unity, force, and ease or might not. Also generally, a, if not the, substantive consideration is force. Not forced but forceful -- emphasis, in other words. The Scriptural and use is a subtle emphasis intent, as Osiris notes, paraphrasing our host Orson Scott Card, to lend an air of divinity. Likewise, as wetwilly observes, semi-literate dialogue uses are open to interpretation, from those could characterize a speaker's degree of literacy and, hence, identity traits.

If I were an agent -- as such, my language literacy probably would compare to the U.S. average seventh-grade language skill level -- I'd sense something was amiss, something confused about a misuse, though not know what is awry well enough to do more than decline a submission, and a form decline at that. Form decline, no thank you, not at this time -- interpret to mean language and prose craft deficits too numerous to summarize and is too rude to note.

I am an editor -- educated, trained, and experienced. My language literacy is far above average, most peculiarly from ample exposure to all forms of expression: gestured, spoken, and written, artful and artless, literate and illiterate, private and public, and formal and informal, and always more between extremes than at extreme ends.

The craft of prose, so to speak, entails grammar that is lively and vivid, aptly unified, forceful, and of an ease to read and comprehend immediately, as it were. Ergo, rigid adherence to grammar's principles includes C.J. Cherryh's edict to follow no rule off a cliff. As in all things writing, however, timely and judicious use of emphasis requires awareness and effort. Composition that artfully uses grammar's exceptions intends emphasis where emphasis matters and not one word more or word out of place.

I prefer, generally, that writers abide grammar principles, more so for less experienced writers -- less likelihood that way to go astray; greater likelihood of success and skill development. Oh the many writers who plateau at publication debut and woe betide their further skills advancement. However, if grammar-principle exceptions suit unity, force, and ease's laws, I delight at the subversion.

Unnecessarily illiterate connective word use, any unnecessary, persistent grammar fluke, draws a form decline from me.

[ June 29, 2016, 05:24 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
You learn the rules, then you only break them if what you do instead really works in the story. If you can't make it work, don't do it.

And sometimes, the only way you know if something works or not is if you have someone read it to you out loud (cold--not having seen the text before), and listen to how they handle it.
Posted by dmsimone (Member # 10502) on :
Yes, this is what I was thinking. Far better to master grammar and use it correctly than try to stray. However, I think using conjunctions at the start of a sentence within dialogue is acceptable because people speak that way naturally.

Interesting that the take-away from the earlier conversation in 2011 was one of general acceptance in using and/but/etc. at the beginning of a sentence.

Thanks for the insight.
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
Maybe, in part, current Hatrack consensus is a backlash to the rash of publications since 2011-ish that use connective words injudiciously. Several technology advances led to fewer, if any, editing, revision, and proofreading passes: Digital self-publication, e-reader and e-content on demand, and on-demand digital publication platforms' expansion soared circa 2011.

Maybe too, the Digital Age generation, Millennial, is coming of age composition skill-wise. The eldest Millennials are, what, twenty-six years old? Ones who followed traditional education tracks, and all the way to post-doctorate studies, just last year completed schooling. Earlier finishers, late finishers, on-time finishers -- I read an ample portion of their scholastic work and the work of their instructors. I'm not impressed, though, in general, they are a degree or two stronger of language aptitude than their less composition-skill educated peers.

My instructors, well, likewise, to the point some mocked my attention to language detail, or my rhetorical acuity astonished some. One out of dozens knew of the picaresque form's episodic nature, for example, though not that a roguish protagonist and satire are as central to the form's method.

About half knew of the word metonymy and could distinguish metonymic terms occasionally, though could neither explain the figure nor distinguish it from synecdoche, let alone create one or the other intentionally and appealingly. Forget about metalepsis. Meta who-what?

And some thousand more rhetorical figures and schemes, includes one that self-labels the whole label set and is often itself considered a rhetorical vice: graecismus, use of Greek words, like graecismus -- as if metaphor and simile are the only rhetorical tools -- forget about it.

Multiple conjunction use and otherwise conjunction absence, by the way, are labeled polysyndeton and asyndeton, respectively. Another conjunction figure, syntheton, labels a two-word with conjunction and phrase conventionally combined together for an emphasis purpose: fire and ice, good and evil, black and white, bread and wine, man and wife.

For rhetoric study, free, comprehensive, and accessible online, Silva Rhetoricae by Gideon Burton, BYU.

Prose is poetry; prose is rhetoric; prose is apt expression equipment. (A triplet, or loose tricolon there. A regular tricolon: I came; I saw; I won [conquered] -- or the Latin original, Vini, vidi, vici.)

[ June 30, 2016, 12:50 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
I'll offer up for discussion fodder a line from my WIP. I came across it while cleaning up my first draft today, and I thought of this thread. Here I am, posting this, when I should be continuing work on my story.

The line in question:

Turn them off, I told myself. But I couldn't.

I would submit, that this is an example of starting a sentence with "but" that works. The second sentence (fragment, if you want to be exact) feels to me like it needs to be a separate thought. In other words, it feels like it needs a longer pause between the clauses than just a comma. Using a comma here feels to me like it loses some of the dramatic effect.

Turn them off, I told myself, but I couldn't.

And losing the conjunction entirely feels choppy and disjointed to me.

Turn them off, I told myself. I couldn't.

I'm glad to open this up to commentary, for those interested. My sentence is not sacred, and you're welcome to tear it apart. I'm here to learn through discussion, not try to win a point.
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
Delighted to see Erasmus' De Copia exercise in practice at Hatrack.

I could easily generate dozens if not a few hundred derivations of "Turn them off, I told myself. But I couldn't."

Two mechanical strategies would consider punctuation and word substitution. Another would consider the intent and meaning. Another would consider figures of speech. Another would consider amplification schemes. Another would consider the occasion of the expression, its audience, and its suitability for those two, the subject, and the context and texture.

The brevity of the line does speak loud from its fast pace, unity, somewhat forcefulness, and ease of reading and comprehension. The motivations and stakes are implied behind the line. The tone somewhat implies matters of forlorn resignation and despair, perhaps anxiousness.

"But I couldn't." is only a sentence fragment in that it entails a clause's subordination conjunction; otherwise, it uses the stream-of-consiousness method of unconventional grammar for artful emphasis.

Let's see, though, what else might present.

"Turn them off, I told myself. But I couldn't."

Word and punctuation adjustments, plus enhanced specificity and force:

//Switch those displays the heck off, I commanded myself -- I could not.//
//Kill those dog-damn robots the hell off, I ordered myself -- and I couldn't.//
//Shut them manic thoughts down, myself I bid do -- I refused.//
//Put the rabid slights in the back-mind, I said to myself -- yet I let them boil.//

All longer by half, though. What works is an economy of words that conveys intent and meaning and degree of force to readers such that their imagination and emotional responses is what a writer intends. Not one word more or word, punctuation mark, etc., out of place, for reading and comprehension ease.

A period does signal a greater pause than a comma; also, a period separates at a full stop, signals a disconnect between ideas. The next sentence in immediate sequence defuses the period disconnect for the original.

A colon or semicolon, which signal connection somewhat stronger than a comma, and stronger pause, could be too sophisticated for the audience; the dash, though, is a sublime mark for disconnect and at the same time connect.

My conclusion is the brevity, unity, force, and ease of the original recommends itself much for an audience range. A mite stronger force in an economy of words and perhaps a punctuation adjustment could serve as well or stronger yet.

Though the central point is whether a conjunction sentence start works or doesn't work is the matter of discussion, why and so on, or what might serve instead of a conjunction at all, is part of my thought process.

[ June 30, 2016, 04:38 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
Perhaps some background for the above line would help. Perhaps not. Either way, here it is, in limited form, without going into a lot of detail.

The "I" in question is in a room with a bunch of TV screens that are displaying an image that disturbs him deeply. (He is a deeply disturbed individual to begin with). The obvious solution is to turn them off, but he physically can't; he tries, but nothing works. They stay on.

I think I'll work with your suggestion that I might be able to word this more forcefully, ex. This is a pretty important moment in the story.
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
Something to remember: first person narration is akin to dialogue to some extent, so it doesn't follow the same restrictions as third person narration.
Posted by dmsimone (Member # 10502) on :
wetwilly - for what it's worth, and without trying to dissect it because I would likely butcher it, I like your third version. I think it conveys the most emotion.
Posted by dmsimone (Member # 10502) on :
There is a Facebook thread in progress in which writers are discussing an article titled, "Ten Grammar and Writing Rules That are Myths." One of the "myths" is that you should not start a sentence with and/but/because.

A majority of those who are commenting, okay, nearly everyone who comments, is of the opinion that grammar rules are meant to be broken. I wonder how many of them have published anything...
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
The proverb about the exception proves the rule is on point for these so-labeled grammar rule myths. The proverb is itself a myth because its origins and meaning are clouded. The background for it comes from mathematical and logical proofs that formally prove all cases of a law or premise are true or, conversely, all false. Like A squared plus B squared equals C squared for all planar right triangles -- the Pythagorean Theorem, formula actually, of which no exceptions have yet been, nor are likely to be, proved. In fact, the Pythagorean formula is a provable and pure law.

Or for prose, a superlative assertion, like, Gene always wakes at dawn's first light, can logically be formally proven false for at least one case. Not once has Gene ever failed to wake at dawn's first light? Well, maybe once a lifetime he will, and more probably than not, will have no choice but to wake at another time. The probability of an exception is so high as to defy an informal logic truth. That only once excepted is "always" enough, huh? Nope, false.

An exception, or more than one exception case, proves only that a theory is a rule and subject by definition to one or more exceptions.

The "rules are made to be broken" proverb, on the other hand, is a justification for contravening moral truths, like, do unto others . . .

I gauge whether writers have a firm grammar aptitude from if they use the term "rules" to discuss grammar. If they do, they're shy of the experienced writer mark. If they use instead, say, principles, guidelines, options, choices, or suggestions, etc., for grammar's arts and sciences recommendations, they're within reach of the experienced mark.

Grammar options are exceptable, not rules meant to be broken as a justification for lazy habit.

In other words, as many and-but-because and any other conjunction is used artfully excepted as are conjunctions used artlessly. Probably more artless ones than artful. That's my experience.

In my hands is a 1902 composition and rhetoric handbook and manual that exhausts this very topic through an entire chapter. Such teaching texts are few and far between anymore, nonexistent in schools and universities; however, not one word is any different from the wisdom of the ages and current composition belief and practice.

For example, David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, 1996, a much acclaimed novel, critically acclaimed anyway, a mere one million copies of the encyclopedic thousand-page novel sold, uses many such vacuousnesses, and other grammar flukes, for sentence starts: "And but so . . ." "But so and . . ." "Because but . . ." "And but because . . ." The novel portrays immediate, effortless self-gratification. The dystopian future milieu of the novel bases around The Organization of North American Nations formed from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The novel's language overall as well reflects that self-indulgent onanist complication. Wallace mocks and ridicules his own onanistic expression himself. Hello. Infinite jest, indeed.

[ July 02, 2016, 02:38 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]
Posted by dmsimone (Member # 10502) on :
One individual made a list of "rules" and shared it. How very unpleasant their writing experience must be! I try to understand the conventions to make my work understandable, polished, and enjoyable. There is no way I could write with a list of rules taped to my desk.

I did not read Infinite Jest...but it makes me think of Hamlet!
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
The article the Facebook group discusses is originally a Writers Digest publication. The Writers Digest article is otherwise unattributed. Actually, the post is a phish campaign to entice viewers to input their e-mail addresses for a spam mail list.

I collected apocyrphal writing "rules" until they became unmanageable from sheer volume. More often than not, they contradict each other. Too many minds at work in the brain box at once, in a cacophonous mental chaos, too. Realized I could self-impose my own "rules" more effectively. Here's one, C.J. Cherryhs' reworded, put up characters to follow a rule off a cliff. See what dramatically transpires then. Folly or farce? Travesty or delight? Personal decline or growth? Both?

One or two comparisons between Hamlet and Infinite Jest I could contrive.
Posted by dmsimone (Member # 10502) on :
Yes - that's the article!

Hamlet: Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath borne me on his back a thousand times, and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is!

So many titles come from Shakespeare. Something Wicked This Way Comes (MacBeth) comes quickly to mind.

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