Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.
– E. B. White
I can write a sentence, but I don’t know a thing about grammar. I failed grammar when I was in school. I failed it cheerfully, brazenly, and without a trace of guilt. When I was in college, a professor mocked me constantly for my inability to identify parts of speech—a daily event, because she made a point to make us break down sentences—out loud, in Chinese—every day for what felt like months.
Actually, I know it was months. It was like a group torture session on foreign literary crack.
Anyway, she wondered how I could be any kind of lawyer, or writer, without being able to break up a sentence. We knocked heads until graduation. Again, cheerfully (sometimes) and brazenly (very often) on my part. Because honestly? I did not care.
I write by ear (and in college, learned to speak Chinese the same way, too). This is why it’s so important to read and read and read. You have to get those words in your system (or if you’re studying a language, listen, listen, listen). You have to feel the rhythm in your head as you write. Knowing your nouns and verbs won’t help you craft a book. A sentence can be grammatically perfect and make no sense whatsoever.
And an outline can look beautiful on the surface, and still be the blueprint to a horrible book.
Guess what I’m working on tonight? Ha!
Here are my big questions of the night:
a) What’s the internal conflict between the hero and heroine?
b) What’s the external conflict surrounding the hero and heroine?
c) Summarize the book in one paragraph.
More later. But here’s my favorite quote of the day:
Pain or damage don’t end the world. Or despair or…beatings. The world ends when you’re dead. Until then, you got more punishment in store. Stand it like a man… and give some back. – Al Swearengen (Deadwood)