To Be Formal or Not To Be . . .

To Be Formal or not to be . . . That is often the question, or issue.

Me, I’m inclined to be an informal kind of gal. I use contractions at every opportunity, and I break rules pretty often too. Mostly when I’m writing in first person POV. Why’s that? Because the average person speaks like that. And I’m writing for the average person, not the college professors or other such personages.

Formal speech sounds pompous, often self righteous, and arrogant.

There. I said it and I’m glad.

So, unless my main guy or gal is such a personage, no formality will be present. Moreover, small children often people my stories, and they don’t speak as if they’re 30, or 40. Unless, of course, that’s the kind of kid I want to portray. Which, so far, I have never included such a child in any story.  So, there is toddler speak in those stories. I spell the words as I hear them. And use the baby words my sons used then, and my granddaughters used. I’ve used words from kids I’ve overheard in public places. So cute, and so amusing! How can I not use them?

Having said that, one must learn all those tedious rules in order to know when one can break them. And so I told one fourth grade class I visited years back. Not sure what the teacher thought, but I felt I’d made a fair point. Learn all that good grammar stuff, punctuation, and even how to diagram a sentence – which I did, better than anyone in any of my English classes from eighth grade to graduation. I loved it all. Loved it! Embrace it! Excel at it!

Only then can you understand when you can cast it aside for the freedom of informality. You’ll know it. Trust me. It’ll sound sincere and chatty, and just right for the piece.

Now, if you’re into nonfiction, different story. Stick to the rules, most of the time. I just can’t be a writer of formalities, so I don’t do much of any nonfiction. I have learned to write in the APA style, and have done well with it on the occasions I’ve had to use it. But, it’s not me. I often use fragments of sentences. People talk that way. I guess I just like to be conversational. Kind of like we’ve been friends for years.

I’ll be working up a page on which to post tips, musings, and rants about all things grammar and the general mechanics of writing. I know almost every writer has a page about these things, but I feel I have to defend my take on these issues. I frankly don’t give a hoot about what the “experts” want. Let them write their papers, stories, and articles their way.

I, for my part, will write mine to the scribble of a different pencil.


I will post when I have launched my page or pages, as my whim wishes. Please visit again! See if you agree or don’t.