Dr Niamh On The Plum Tree

Childhood Imagination Sows Seeds of Future Brilliance

Editor’s Corner With Shawn MAcKenzie

Another from Shawn MacKenzie’s exquisite penmanship. Many thanks Shawn for your brilliant posts.

MacKENZIE's Dragon's Nest

Feeling Frisky and Breaking the RulesScribe small

Katharine Hepburn said, “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.”

Today, in the spirit of Ms. Hepburn’s wit and ribald spring, I am going to talk about rules and their breaking.

As a matter of principle, I believe rules should be broken – at the very least bent – whenever and wherever possible. This presupposes the breakage is done with knowledgeable deliberation and no one gets hurt in the process. (Those falling sentence fragments can be lethal!)


Of course, in writing – as in life – some rules are more flexible than others. And some seem downright arbitrary, especially when it comes to fiction. Here are a few of my particular favorites:

Avoid split infinitives. One wishes to generally do this as a matter of clarity, and I like to think this was the rule’s intent. Though back when Chaucer’s Middle English…

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About Dr Niamh

When I was a little girl (a very, very long time ago), I used to love learning new, really big words like ‘discombobulate’. As I grew, my love of words grew too, until I loved them so much, I could not stop writing them down. One day, as I was scribbling a particular word, a very peculiar thing happened. The word shouted at me, “Stop! Don’t put me there!” As you can imagine, I was shocked and nearly fell off my chair. When I recovered somewhat, I said to the word, “Could you stop shouting, please? I am not used to it.” Can you guess what happened next? No! I thought not. The word said, “I might be small, but I will misbehave if you do not use me properly. I will not tell the story you would like me to tell. I will say something entirely different!” I dropped my pen. I hoped that by dropping my pen, the word would stop talking. Alas! It did not. It carried on chitterchobbling, even after the ink had dried. I was in a pickle. I could not allow my words to run away with my story, now could I? I don’t know about you, but when this sort of thing happens, there is only one thing left to do if you prefer not to spend your time arguing. “Very well,” said I. “I will do as you ask if you will just be quiet and allow me to concentrate.” Since that day, I have been paying special attention to every word I invite into my stories. After all, a story should say exactly what it means to say and not be led astray. With love from Dr. Niamh, Ph.D in Learning Through The Imagination and Founder of Dr Niamh Children's Books. www.drniamhchildrensbooks.com

One comment on “Editor’s Corner With Shawn MAcKenzie

  1. Uncle Tree
    May 15, 2013

    Yippee-ki-oh-dee-ay! 🙂


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This entry was posted on May 14, 2013 by in Special Projects and tagged , , , , , , , .
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