Breakin’ the Law! When Can You Ignore Grammar Rules?

As many excellent writers will tell you, grammar matters.

But sometimes there’s an exception. A free ride. A hall pass.

Under some very specific circumstances… you can BREAK THE LAW!

breakin the law
chainsaw optional

For Dramatic Effect

Sometimes you want to emphasize how much something really, really sucks. Or really, really rocks. Or really, really is not true.

Like: It ain’t easy.

Yes, you may break the laws of grammar to make your point. As long as you know the laws of grammar, that is, and know you’re breaking them.

Stay True to Your Character

Let’s say your character is a ten year old who answers the phone.

It’s grammatically correct to say, “To whom am I speaking?” But would your character know that?

It’s okay to break the laws of grammar if your character wouldn’t know those rules.

break rules

Here’s an important caveat: Let’s say you’re writing the entire novel from the perspective of a grammatically-challenged character.

That’s tough.

It’s been done before – Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves uses “should of” and “could of” to great effect – but you should know you’re signing up for a serious challenge.

When Rules are in Flux

Sometimes there’s just no good answer. For example, making a name that ends in -s possessive.

That’s Mr. Jones’ cat? That’s Mr. Jones’s cat?

kittens
Hey, it’s… uh… the cat belonging to Mr. Jones!

Even the experts disagree on this one. (For the record, I’m going with the Chicago Manual of Style, which recommends Jones’ – but that’s because I’m an alumna.)

When even the pros can’t decide – you get to do what you want! Isn’t that liberating?

freedome

Now get writing!

David_Tennant-You_Should_Be_Writing

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