Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Memoir Mechanics & Grammar: How structure in writing encourages freedom of expression

(This is the first of my series on Memoir Mechanics and Grammar)

Writing, as an act of self-expression, is fluid and flowing; for many, is it a liberating experience.  But, writing can also be restrictive when trying to impose all the rules that come with the written word.  With a little perspective on the conventions of writing, though, you can use your knowledge to manipulate these rules and break free from the confines that one normally associates with grammar and mechanics. 

The grammatical and mechanical aspects of written language, though at times mundane, are a necessary part of writing.  As an educator, I focus on teaching my students the rules of proper writing so that they know when and how to break them.  Scott Purdy, in “Teaching Students to Write” (Write Time Publishing, 1999), said it best, “My approach to teaching writing ascribes to the philosophy that structure creates freedom”. 

Before we can break down the structure and rules of written language, though, we need to glean an understanding of the fundamental differences between grammar and mechanics:

·        Grammar, referring to the structure of writing, includes parts of speech, sentence structure, and how words work together.  The most basic components of grammar are the subject and predicate.  Understanding that every sentence must have a “who” or “what” and that this “who” or “what” is doing something, is fundamental to becoming a good writer.

·        Mechanics refers to the conventions of written language, such as punctuation, capitalization, and spelling.  Adhering to proper mechanics in your writing ensures the reader picks up on your intended intonation and fluctuation.  Knowing when to alter the mechanics of your writing allows you to express your creativity and authenticity through your writing.

Only when a writer understands the conventions of writing, can they blossom into an inspired writer.  Join me on my journey as we shed some light on the deep, dark depths of writing grammar and mechanics.

I’d love to hear how do you distinguish between grammar and mechanics in writing?  Do you agree with the philosophy that “structure creates freedom”?

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