Lots to offer in this episode… check it out.
We’re live-streaming video!
We started this episode by announcing that we were, for the first time, streaming the video feed of the Google Hangout we were using to record the podcast. Sean, Dave and I have always recorded our podcasts while also using video so that we could catch each other’s visual cues (like Dave mooning his webcam), but from here on out we’ll also broadcast that video.
NOTE: Our intention is to record EVERY Tuesday at 3pm Eastern US time and to broadcast/stream our video in this same way, but we suck at coordination of such things and will certainly not adhere to that schedule exactly. But in general, if you want a laugh, try checking our YouTube channel at 3pm on Tuesdays. Most Tuesdays we should be there, live. (Maybe we’ll even figure out how to do live chat eventually, too.)
We took a question from John about how Sean and Dave structure serials, and if it’s different from structuring a novel. They answered the question (Sean had to hear it twice, because he wasn’t paying attention). Because the question wasn’t for me, I took a nap.
Grammar, rules of writing, following rules so you don’t look like an amateur, and breaking rules because rules suck
We spent the bulk of the episode addressing a question submitted by Scott via email. Here’s the meat of the email that Scott sent us:
I am 39 years old and haven’t written a damn thing since I was a kid. I’ve got tons of ideas floating around for a short fiction novel, but never had the balls to put them down on paper…until now. That said, I have some anxiety about writing, particularly as it relates to the proper usage of grammar and punctuation.
I would very much enjoy hearing you guys get into some basic discussion about how you each structure a novel. For example, I find myself getting stumped on proper paragraph structure. I’ve read some people use as little as one sentence…others suggest sticking to the 5-7 sentence per paragraph structure. Basically, some writing and grammar tips 101 from you guys would be helpful.
I know this sounds incredibly basic, but for fuckers like me who paid very little attention in school and never went to college, this can be a source of great anxiety.
There’s a lot to this question. I feel that the many, many, many other people who I’ve found have questions like this have been duped by teachers and other authorities into believing that there is a “right” way to write, and that if you don’t adhere to those “correct rules,” you have no business writing and are just going to embarrass yourself.
In truth, most of the decisions about paragraph length, sentence length, tense, and general style end up comprising an author’s voice… and there is no one correct “voice” for anyone to have.
But still, even if you believe that and choose to consciously defy some of those rules, you need to do so willfully and intentionally, not accidentally because you simply don’t know any better. To that end, we suggest everyone who’d like a firm grounding in how to use grammar and punctuation properly check out these books:
And on counterpoint, here’s a post that Sean wrote called 10 Grammar Rules You Can (and Should!) Ignore!
If you choose to break rules, know them first… and have a damn good reason for breaking those rules. But don’t let someone else’s opinion hold you back.
This episode is chock-full of goodness. We talk about the rule-breaking style of Fight Club and House of Leaves and why the voice and style used in a certain passage in American Psycho gives me serious creeps. Also included: Why reading Clive Barker is like eating a really rich dessert.
To view the video version of this episode, go to: Self Publishing Podcast Episode #13 – Rule-Breaking, Voice, and Style for the Self-Published Author