Dan Brown – numbskull or pioneer?

The English language is always evolving, despite our attempts to make it stand still.

As authors, we try to stick to the accepted rules of what is ‘good’ writing and we admonish those who disobey these rules.  Us older folks use the rules of grammar and punctuation that we were taught when we where young and to us, that’s the ‘right’ way to write.  Many of the younger writers are bending those rules, either due to a lack of education or a determined effort to change things.

Oh my god, they’re trying to modernise us..!

I don’t want to be modernised.  I don’t want to be forced to use an exclamation mark and a question mark together, just because Dan Brown does it in Inferno.  I like my old fashioned rules; they’re familiar and comforting and I know what I’m doing with them.  I like knowing I’ve been observant enough to remove ninety percent of the hads, thats and gots in my WIP and I positively beam with delight at the pile of adverbs I’ve scraped into the trashcan.  It’s hard work obeying the old fashioned rules of good writing; it means you have to know about writing structure.

I secretly reckon that this rush for modernisation has little to do with a desire for creative freedom and more to do with a lack of desire for getting some real education about how to build your work.  My mother is even more old fashioned than me, because her education was gained thirty years before I gained mine.  She stills puts full stops after a prefix – Dr. Smith, Mr. Smith etc and no matter how I argue with her about it, she insists on leaving them in.

I admit that my education as to how to structure ‘good’ writing was severely lacking, so when I began writing novels, I educated myself by reading articles on the internet about how to it.  I learned how to punctuate dialogue properly, the universal hatred of adverbs, hads and thats, the unwritten rule that you never, ever, use comic sans unless you want to lose your kneecaps along with your credibility and all manner of other stuff I never learned at school because I went to a comprehensive rather than a grammar.

I don’t mind moving with the times but there is no way on this Earth I’ll be using an exclamation mark and a question mark together.  I couldn’t give a rat’s arse what Dan Brown does.

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