Saturday, January 27, 2007

Literary Anarchy

WARNING: The views expressed in this blog are graphic in their portrayal of lawless composition. Reader discretion is advised.

I broke a rule today. I admit it. In fact, I’m proud of it. Given the same circumstances, I’d do it again.

I violated a point of view rule. Switched points of view in the middle of scene. Without a section break.

Does that make me a bad person?

It gets worse. When my editor attempted to correct it, I persuaded her to let it stand. I seduced her to the dark side. Not only am I a transgressor, but I’m tempting innocent editors to transgress with me in this vicious downward cycle of depravity.

Am I wicked?

That’s the danger of rule breaking, isn’t it? You get a taste for it. Violate a point of view today, and tomorrow…what? Deliberately misspelling words? Intentionally crafting run-on sentences?

Oh my, where will it end? We’re talking literary anarchy!

Blame John Milton. He resisted efforts to create order out of spelling chaos. Had he a dictionary, he would have burned it in protest. Milton opposed standardized spelling. He argued for the freedom to vary the spelling of a word for creative emphasis and impact.

Think of the chaos! If we didn’t have standardized spelling, what would happen to the National Spelling Bee?

Blame Dean Koontz. In an early book on writing bestselling fiction (now out of print; the publisher sites declining sales, but I suspect a rogue consortium of editors got to them), Koontz advocated writing sentences that were a page and a half long. He cited a time conundrum, when it takes longer to describe an action than it takes to enact it.

The accepted way to quicken narrative pace is to shorten sentences—a time-honored technique approved by editors. But sometimes short sentences make the narrative choppy. Koontz advocated using commas, semi-colons, and colons to create one long breathless sentence.

It works...

No comments: