some writer snob somewhere: Do not start sentences with But or And because doing so is grammatically incorrect.

me, writing my fic: But I don’t care. And you can’t stop me.

To my beta’s profound dismay.

Okay, writeblr, I have a genuine question: I understand the logistics of why this makes sense. That being said, the last ten critically-acclaimed books I have read do this on the regular – and that is not an exaggeration.

Am I missing something? Is this one of those “rules” (emphasis on the air quotes) that everyone unanimously decides to ignore? If so, should I follow in the others’ examples or should I follow the rules? The rule follower in me wants to die every time I see someone do it…but it also feels right?

If anyone tells you not to start sentences with “but” or “and” in creative writing, they’re full of shit. If you’re writing an academic paper, sure, avoid starting with and or but because that makes them incomplete sentences (though I majored in English, did this regularly, and got great grades in my papers, so it depends on your major too).

But with creative writing, as long as it’s like… coherent, do whatever the fuck you want. You’re trying to establish a character’s voice, not win the Most Grammatically Correct award. People don’t talk or think in perfect English and neither should your characters.

If you see a rule that’s being picky about grammar rules like this, assume it’s meant to apply to academic/professional writing only. Applying it to your creative work will not only bring you pain and suffering but also make your narration and dialogue stiff and awkward.

Speaking as a fiction editor, being a petty little grammar pedant is rarely useful outside of academia. As a writer you want to create something that flows, that engages the reader. Not sound like you were stunned over the head with a copy of “Eats, Shoots & Leaves”, which by the way, is a terrible book. Don’t read that. The author is an elitist snob, and they might know how grammar works, but that’s the extent of their skill.

Basic grammar, yes. Good. Smashing.

But you can safely ignore anyone that tells you “said is dead”. Said is not dead, said is undead and wishes people would stop trying to replace it when it’s a perfectly good word to use.

Repeat after me:  Creative writing is creative.  Language evolves, feel free to be the next rung on the ladder.

(As long as you don’t replace “have” with “of” because that makes no sense, and do break down your paragraphs into bite-sized pieces).

About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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