Must you write complete sentences each
time, every time? Perish the thought. If your
work consists only of fragments and floating
clauses, the Grammar Police aren’t going
to come and take you away, Even William
Strunk, that Mussolini of rhetoric, recognized
the delicious pliability of language. ‘It is an
old observation,quot; he writes, quot;the best writers
sometimes disregard the rules of rhetoric.quot;
Yet he goes on to add to this thought, which
I urge you to consider. quot;unless he is certain
of doing well, [the writer] will probably do
Writer Stephen King has his own views about how far we
best to follow the rules.quot;
should follow established rules of grammar.
The telling clause here is unless he is certain of doing well, If you don’t have a rudimentary
grasp of how the parts of speech translate into coherent sentences, how can you be
certain that you are doing well?
Verbs come in two types, active and passive. With an active verb, the subject of the
sentence is doing something. With a passive verb, something is being done to the
subject of the sentence. The subject is just letting it happen. You should avoid the
passive tense. I’m not the only one who says so; you can find the same advice in The
Elements of Style.
Messrs Strunk and White don’t speculate as to why so many writers are attracted to
passive verbs, but I’m willing to … I think timid writers … feel the passive voice somehow
lends their work authority, perhaps even a quality of majesty, If you find instruction
manuals and lawyers’ torts majestic, I guess it does.
The timid fellow writes, ‘the meeting will be held at 7 o’clock’, because that somehow says
to him, ‘put it this way and people will believe you really know’. [Instead], throw back your
shoulders, stick out your chin, and put that meeting in charge! Write, ‘the meeting’s at
seven’. There, by God! Don’t you feel better?
Stephen King, On Writing a Memoir of the CraftEnglish