Grammar, voice and writing "rules"

This intro post is one of several I've made open to the curious, before you put down any money on the course. It's especially for those who are wondering about my philosophy on writing "rules" (there are none) or are a little whether I'm some sort of grammar purist (I'm not).

Over the length of the course, throughout the lessons, I try to go to great lengths to make sure course participants understand several basic things about my philosophy in writing: it's important to understand the basis of what people say are writing "rules" because it can help you gain insight into your own writing. But following arbitrary writing rules isn't going to make you a better storyteller, isn't necessarily going to make your writing always better and, in fact, sometimes can kill your voice.

What I think is important is having a basic understanding of how language and grammar works, and how you can use them most effectively in your own writing, while understanding where certain things may have a negative impact on your craft.

I also think the importance of a writer's voice, as well as character voices, is tremendous, and how you put together sentences and formulate your story is key to how the reader approaches and interacts with your work. There is no such thing as "proper" English, for you or your characters. There is only what's best for your book. I think this is an especially important point for editors to remember as we welcome more voices and become more inclusive as a publishing community. All voices are not the same, and should not use the same phrasing, wording, syntax, or grammar choices. To artificially enforce an idea of "good" or "right" across voices is to try to homogenize instead of celebrating an author's unique voice.

So as participants go through this course, what I hope they take away isn't a sense of restriction, but instead a sense of freedom in knowing what the elements of grammar and craft look like, so the writer, and editor, can use them to greatest advantage for each individual work.