The Sunday Session – What Are Your Thoughts On….


……..the rules of writing. Grammar. Punctuation. Using adverbs to replace the word ‘said’. Any that you’ve come across in your writing life – and do you break them?

I am very aware of adverbs. Whenever I go through old stories I wrote as a teenager, I cringe at my frivolous use of them. I thought I was being clever. I now know that…… Just. No. And I try to keep the use of them to an absolute minimum but sometimes I have to. To set the mood, the tone. Again, I try really hard to keep it as a last resort though.

So, do you have any writing rules that you try not to break? Or, do you throw caution to the wind and to hell with it!?




About Virginia

Writer, reader, crossword puzzler and conspiracy theorist.

18 Responses to “The Sunday Session – What Are Your Thoughts On….”

  1. The first edit of my WIP I went through stripping out every thing keeping to all the rules by the time I finished it sounded like a news report, since then I have gone back adding things back in not too much but enough that I still hear my voice coming through


    • I see so many rules around, how can we possibly find our true voice whilst adhering to rule after rule? Wheres the creativity in that? I guess with everything, moderation is key. ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. Don’t use adverbs much. Don’t use grammar much either. Tend to write how I speak, but slightly more organised (I hope). Most rules are boring and change often anyway. In my teens, it is my use of the exclamation mark which is so embarrassing. Pages peppered with them.
    Went on a writing course years back and was told only to use it in a post modern ironic sense and since I don’t know what that means, rarely use it at all. (!!!!!!!)


  3. I haven’t had any training. There’s a part of me that really wants to delve into all this theory stuff. I bet it’s helped your writing no end. At the minute I just write what sounds right in my ear. I have an idea of the tone I want to create, but no real systematic or academic way of achieving it. I just write and edit as I go. I think I am slowly edging closer to my own voice/style.


  4. One of the things I’ve learnt from writing is that you’re always learning. ๐Ÿ™‚ Some readers won’t notice deficiencies, but others will, so it may be best to target the readers that will. ๐Ÿ™‚ Read a few Pulitzer prize winning novels and then read some by well-liked authors. You’ll notice subtle differences in the things you’ve mentioned. Verbs and nouns are a writer’s best friends. Adverbs are like neighboursโ€”colourful, but often annoying. ๐Ÿ™‚


  5. I actually did a post on grammar on my blog because I got so worked up about the lack of care that people take – yes, it was partly tongue in cheek (it was called Their, They’re, There…The Grammar Goddess Gets Upset) – but I do find that well-written blogs, articles and novels will always keep my attention; whilst those with a bad structure or lack of care will immediately put me off. I try to stay true to my own style, but gosh I am careful with word usage at the same time. I hope I am anyway…I could of course be completely kidding myself!


  6. I’m very much a to hell with it kind of girl lol ๐Ÿ˜‰

    But, I do realise that if I have any hopes of being published I have to play by the rules ๐Ÿ˜ฆ



  7. In writing, like many things, I think if you know the rules you’ll have a better sense of when to follow and when to break them. I’m trying to think if there are any non-negotiable writing rules I follow…but I’m not sure there are…

    Perhaps my one standard is this: if you want to write well, you should first read well! Learn from the masters before you.


    • I completely agree with you. Reading is so important to becoming a better writer. Having said that, I recently read a novel that was translated from Italian and in some parts you could really tell where the narrative was ‘lost in translation’. I guess the lesson there was what NOT to do ๐Ÿ™‚


  8. I tend to write furiously, allowing (shamefully perhaps) a certain large corporation’s word processing software to assist my grammar. True story: I was an English Education major in college, took a class titled: History of the English Language. **It had nothing to do with history, and everything to do with grammar.** Needless to say, that did not work out very well. However, thanks to other writer’s critiques, I have learned and improved my technical skills. It also helps to write. The more you write, the better you learn the rules. And as other’s have mentioned above, when/where/how to bend/break the rules. My technical errors are down these days, but not eliminated. As for the use of ‘said’, I tend to try to stick to the basics. I use ‘said’ regularly, though I through in adverbs to liven longer dialogs or to emphasize a line. There are also times when it is just two characters and I drop off ‘he said’, ‘said the woman’ etc, after I have established the order of who is talking.


  9. I do the same when I have a few lines of dialogue, I eliminate the ‘he said she saids’ too. Stephen King did scar me for life with that one. But I’m better for it. See, now, History of the English Language interests me to no end and I even considered studying this a few years back. I am obsessed with the English language – the origins of it mainly and the way Saxon, Nordic and Latin languages have shaped it to how we know it now.


  10. I used to love grammar, and championed correct usage, even if fiction. Our minds flow, though, and fiction is not meant to be so rigid and regimented. Sometimes we need to be poetic and just let it flow.

    As for adverbs, they are tricky. Often, they are a lazy attempt at sounding clever or articulate, but when used masterfully, they flow. “John folded his arms aggressively while Amy bobbed her hair carelessly on a Tuesday where Josephine quietly lurked into a bank and masterfully picked a lock to the tightly locked bathroom stall” is lazy. This is “telling.” I think most amateur writers (myself included) get caught up on the “rules.” The he/she said debate, the adverb debate, the “show, don’t tell” debate.

    Like you said, use them when you need to. If there is a better way to say someone caught the ball skillfully, then use that.

    Good question to get the mind stirring and the fingers pumping.


    • Yes, I agree – newbies do tend to obsess a little more on the rules than the more experienced writer. Which is fair enough – it’s like anything in life. The more you do it, the better you become.


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