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Primary school English lies

One thing I have learnt and noticed as a writer and editor is how scarred we are from primary school English lessons. There were so many 'rules' we were taught to follow when we wrote and as a writer, it has taken a while to break out of that mindset.

Here are some of those things...

Double quotations

This is something that comes up all the time for me.

I'll be fair with this point and mention that single quotations is a newer style to writing and wasn't that common when I was at primary school, but nevertheless this is still a comment I get on a regular basis.

In most UK style novels, you will see that quotation marks are all single and only double when it's a quote within a quote. Less is more in this instance.

Pathetic fallacy

This is one thing that I was told at school was a poor and lazy writing technique. It's not. As much as it can be seen as the lazy way out, it's also an essential part of writing. Imagine you're writing a scene, your character is absolutely distraught and the sun is shining in the sky. It doesn't work. Now think about but this time, there's grey clouds and it's pouring down with rain.

It's not lazy. All I would say is it's a given and shouldn't be fully relied on to paint the full picture. It's essential to set the scene and to add the world you're building.

'And it was all a dream...'

Now, of course this is a bit of a cop out. But when I was at school, we were told to stay away from dreams all together.

Dreams are a really effective technique in writing, especially in first person writing. It gives you an insight into your character's brain without the control of the narrator or character. This is where you have the chance to perhaps play around with the unreliable narrator or reveal something your main character may have not wanted you to know... You can use dreams to give a bigger insight into a characters thoughts, their worries and feelings. So, don't avoid them, use them to your advantage.

And you can't start a sentence with a conjunction...

Actually you can, I just did (see what I did there?)

There really isn't anything stopping you (maybe not in academic, formal piece of work, but anywhere else). When you're writing fiction, most rules go out the window. It's important to remember that if it works, if it's effective, it doesn't really matter if you're breaking the rules. And sometimes, you just need to start that sentence with a conjunction... (see again).

Adverbs end in 'ly'

I didn't know that this wasn't true until I reached a levels...

It's crazy to me as adverbs play such a BIG part in the English language. Yes, some adverbs end in 'ly', but NOT ALL OF THEM! If you believe this, then you're missing out on a whole world of adverbs, words that you didn't know were adverbs, a few examples:

Today, next week, yesterday, tomorrow, last week, next year, everyday, recently, lately (adverbs of time)

Over there, under, over, outside, inside, in the house...

(adverbs of place)

Quickly, strongly, cheaply, fast

(adverbs of manner)

See, a whole new world...


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