Writing a English Essay — Breaking the Rules of Grammar

We all learned the rules in school. Write in complete sentences. Don’t end a sentence with a preposition. These are the two most common rules that I’m asked about, usually by aspiring writers who have the voices of English essays teachers or professors still ringing in their ears.

Writing a Novel

When you’re writing fiction, and especially when you’re writing an entire novel, you want it to be believable. Let’s face it, very few people speak according to the rules of grammar. It would be difficult to create a truly enrapturing story if you insisted on being grammatically correct.

Using Complete Sentences When Novel Writing

Most high school students are taught not to use sentence fragments. I was taught not to use sentence fragments. And true, when writing a professional-sounding non-fiction work, it is a good idea to avoid sentence fragments, for the most part. But we’re not talking about non-fiction. We’re talking about the creativity inherent in writing a novel.

Novels are an expression of thoughts and feelings, both of the author and of the characters he or she creates. And these characters should at least strive to reflect reality to some extent, even in the most fantastical stories. In reality, very few people speak in full and complete sentences all of the time. And most people, myself included, think in sentence fragments.

This is not to say that you should go nuts and write a novel entirely composed of sentence fragments, for a novel written in such a way would cause most readers to choose another book. But if a sentence fragment sounds right, and it fits into the story you are weaving, then most novelists will tell you to go ahead and use it.

Can I End a Sentence in a Preposition When Writing a Novel?

If we were in a classroom, I would have to tell you that you must never end a sentence in a preposition (except, of course, for the exceptions to that rule). Creative writing tends to follow different rules than conventional writing.

When people speak and think, they often end sentences in prepositions, especially the word ‘with.’ If a character thinks and speaks in a way that means you have to end sentences with prepositions, even if it’s totally unacceptable grammatically, then I’d tell you to go with it.

Most of the rules of grammar apply as strictly to creative writing as they do to other forms of writing. However, a novel should draw the reader in, and keep him or her captive until the end of the story. This can sometimes be best accomplished by employing a style of writing that may not be grammatically correct. It may not be easy for those just getting started to dismiss the strict rules of grammar, but it’s not called creative writing for nothing.