Wednesday, May 30, 2012

When Mistakes Aren't Mistakes

I'm a stickler for grammar when it comes to writing, but I've also learned along the way that fiction writing is different from other types of writing. It follows different rules. Some of those rules are fairly fixed while others are apparently subjective.

In dialogue, we are allowed to make PUGS errors if it fits the character and the needs of the line. (PUGS = Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, Spelling) Some authors (I'm guilty of this one) use comma+then rather than comma+and then or semicolon+then, because it just sounds better sometimes. In the narrative, we can include things like short sentence fragments if they don't stumble the reader. In fact, I think they're great if used well. So, my question to you is:

When is a mistake not a mistake?

What stumbles you in fiction, and which mistakes can actually
make the writing better?

9 comments:

  1. I agree that grammatical mistakes are most easily overlooked in dialogue for the sake of character voice. However, too many mistakes or inconsistencies in that voice or usage can be jarring, at least to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agree - definitely! It goes for accents, too. Altering the words enough to give the reader a flavor works, but too much (or none at all, just telling us it was 'brogue,' etc.) doesn't work.

      Thanks for visiting! :)

      Delete
  2. I'm blushing because that's a mistake I make. I know my mom has caught it a few times on a proofread. I'll have to pay more attention in the future. Thanks for visiting! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. You know I love short sentence fragments. :D

    ReplyDelete
  4. Some of my favorite writers are those who purposely make mistakes to make a point or extend a metaphor. For example, in a Jose Saramago book he uses no punctuation for dialogue - not even quotation marks! It was so confusing, but that was the point. He was creating a chaotic world for the setting and atmosphere, so the lack of punctuation added to that sense.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, my! I'm not sure I could read something like that. I get aggravated after I find only a few errors in a book. That would totally blow all my fuses. LOL :D

      Delete
  5. I'm guilty of the comma+then thing, too. But it's YA and first person, so it kind of has to be like speech. Which is also why I use incomplete sentences and start lots of sentences with "and" and "but". Not technically correct, but it sounds better to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh. I forgot about that one -- starting sentences with conjunctions. I do that, too. Thanks for visiting. :)

      Delete

I love to hear what you have to say.
Thanks for taking the time to comment. = )