View Full Version : How important is understanding all the "parts of speech" to writing?
May 12th, 2004, 01:00 PM
Such as understanding all about verbals the different types of pronouns, conjunctions, interjections...and all the levels of sentence parts. Does all of this really help when it comes down to actually writing, or is all you need a good understanding of the basics? I'm almost finished high school by the way, doing my best to grasp all of this but it's giving me a headache.
May 12th, 2004, 01:17 PM
There are different opinions on this. No writer would doubt that you need to write correctly according to all the rules of grammar, but I never sit there and think 'now hmm, where could I make effective use of pronouns.' Poetry has more complex uses of language in that way. The art of fantasy prose is to tell a good story. Its a sad fact that English students have to learn the intricacies of sentance structure but my advice is: (time to get corny!) after the exam, forget all that crap. If you can speak and know what makes sense then you know enough. Just write your story from the heart and pay no attention to your subjective clauses or whatever.
May 12th, 2004, 02:33 PM
The more you know about the mechanics of writing, the better in my opinion. Outside of highschool all of my formal education has been in the sciences. I did however have the opportunity to take an essay writing class a few years ago and one thing I learned was that better grammar makes your work easier to read.
I try to keep the psychology of reading in mind when I work. If someone has to stumble over an awkward sentence, it may pull them out of the story. Or they may not get an important point - as in the classical "he hit him."
The best way to get better - read a lot and then write a lot.
May 12th, 2004, 04:43 PM
The best way to get better - read a lot and then write a lot.
But Ivyn do you mean how your character's speak? If you do, ask your self.
Do I speak "proper grammar" :rolleyes:
How do I want my characters to speak?
How much information do I want my character's to give the reader in their conversation.
How much is the story driven by what my character's say?
Figure that out, keep to the basics of grammar when writing "speech" and yes it does help the reader, I was terrible at it once, now not too bad and my writing improved by leaps and bounds once I got the hang of it.
I have spent most of my working life crunching numbers, so "writing" took a back seat. You be surprised how much you forget when you don't use the knowledge.
As I said obey the rules of grammar, but nothing, no magic tricks, no rules can make a story interesting if the idea, the "story" behind it is not... be a story teller!
May 12th, 2004, 09:02 PM
All you really need to know about writing is summed up in a book of 87 pages. Strunk and White The Elements of Style. I recomend this book to any writer.
Now, about language, sentence complexity, et. al. you need to know as much about it for the age group you're aiming to have read your works. I, personally, write my short stories for the 15-20 range so they're not overly complex in structure, but have 'wow' endings. I've had a small level of success with selling a couple as well.
For books, I'm aiming for the 12-17 range. So my writing is rather simplistic in wording, but complex enough in the story to keep older readers intrigued. I write what I enjoy. I enjoy sitting down with a High Fantasy novel, but I also enjoy the books for younger readers (I just read the first Lemony Snicket book today. Good read.) I want to get into this area of writing so I'm reading as much as I can of it. That's one secret: read, read, read. Read what you want to write.
As for style, language, character development, etc, those come with time. Ray Bradbury (in his book Zen in the Art of Writing suggests writing a short story every day for a year (a lofty goal). After that year, you'll have one or two really good stories, but mostly you'll have excelent knowledge for HOW to write a story. I'm not shooting for 365, but I am aiming for 100 stories this year. I'm up to 32 so far. I'll make that goal yet. :)
May 13th, 2004, 04:10 PM
I don't really target my books for a particular age range, although I'm aware that most people who will read them will prbly be in the 15-25 range. I write my characters' speech in a natural style, how I think it would sound, so speeches tend to be less complex than the rest of the narritive, however, speech from nobles, rulers, the educated, or other people of importance in my story is at least as complex as the narrative.
May 13th, 2004, 09:35 PM
Does all of this really help when it comes down to actually writing, or is all you need a good understanding of the basics?
All of this is the theoretic aspect of your toolset. Delving into this can help a lot. It can confuse you no end. It depends on what sort of writer you are.
If it's giving you a headache, forget about it and just write. Find your own voice. Or voices, if one alone bores you. (Strunk & White want you to sound like a bold, American frontiersman. If that's not your style, resist. ;) )
Remember: You will not burn in writers' hell for splitting infinitives; however many irate witch hunters knock down your door.
May 14th, 2004, 11:44 AM
When it comes to writing fiction, the rules of grammar don't matter at all. But when it comes to you, they might. The principles of grammar are sort of mutual agreements by which we can put language into a form that can be universally understood. These principles can change over time. For instance, it used to be that you had to refer to a person as a "who," while objects and animals could be refered to as "that," as in "the man who fixes the plumbing," or "the pipes that burst." But, it is now common to use "that" for a person, not only in regular speech but in printed material such as newspapers. The idea of grammar, however, is to help you organize your thoughts and present what you want to say clearly and effectively. Going out into the world, speaking to others, writing non-fiction such as letters and articles, you may find a working knowledge of grammar to be useful, even if it's a bit hard to slog through right now. It certainly can't hurt, and it may help.
If you are going to write fiction, your tools are your words and the better you know your tools, as has been pointed out, the better armed you are to do what you want to do. Written fiction is full of sentence fragments, dangling participles, split infinitives and other grammatical errors -- the "rules" don't apply in composing a story. But understanding what a verb is and how you can use it, that you can build a rhythym with the way that you structure sentences, that the use of language effects the images readers create in their mind's eye from your story -- that's all good stuff, whether you do it instinctively or from knowledge. If you have the knowledge as well as the instinct, you may have mastery, and mastery may take you where you wish to be.
May 14th, 2004, 11:58 AM
Thats what I think too, once you have a reasonable knowledge base you can write naturally and your sentances will be accurate. The summary of my view is that there are far more important skills to writing stories than mere grammical precision. I've probably spelt that wrong but what the hell, I am an author that cannot spell :)
(When working on my fiction I am more careful though. Wish me luck btw, lol, I'm submitting my work to publisher tomorrow :eek: lol)
May 14th, 2004, 10:27 PM
While you certainly don't have to have a degree in English to be able to write, you do have to have a better than basic command of the English language. It always amazes me when I see people who just cannot spell and can't put a basic sentence together claim to be writers.
Writers of what? Sorry but "u" is not a word and if you think it is, you need to go back to school for remedial English. Lazy spelling and lazy grammar have no excuse and if you're not able to speak or write well, you're certainly never going to sell a book.
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