Wednesday, January 08, 2003

William Gibson now has a blog. We will see if this survives for the long term, of if it will die away after the promotional effort for Pattern Recognition is over. (We will also see for how long he uses Blogger). Gibsons comments on the use of non-standard or esoteric English are particularly wise.

Someone posts to complain of the wealth of grammatical errors in my fiction… I would have to say that some are errata, some are nonstandard grammatical choices on the part of a character (and these can be part of the text, as interior monologue or an aspect of “POV”) and the rest are, for the most part, conscious and deliberate stylistic choices involving nonstandard usage.
I suppose the idea that a writer would deliberately choose to “break the rules” would puzzle some people, and annoy others, though it’s a bit of a stretch for me to imagine what it would feel like to be in that particular relationship to prose fiction.
But a character like Rydell doesn’t think in formal standard English, so when I’m interfacing with the narrative through the lens of that character, you don’t get formal standard English. Though that shouldn’t lead you to assume that the more general narrative voice of a given book is “me”. If I’m doing my job, it never is.

Wonderful stylist that he is, Gibson puts this much better than I could, but there are few things more irritating than someone who insists that your a word or grammatical structure in your writing is "wrong", when you know that it is non-standard (and it may be that you are using a word you have just made up) and you did it deliberately for stylistic reasons. (I wish I had been taught Latin and Greek, not to mention Old English, so that my clever made up linguistic structures could be grammatically much cleverer, but alas, my schooling failed me in this.

This is not to excuse typos and genuine errors of course. Alas, I make quite a few typos in this blog. Often I finish a posting and just want to publish it and go to bed, so I do, and discover typos the next day, or never discover them at all. Plus I have a curious form of dyslexia when I type: rather than the word I intend to write, I write a homophone of the same word. Thus I will type "there" when I mean "their" or "they're". I understand the difference between the words, and the error is immediately clear to me when I read the piece back, but for some reason I make the error when typing. Curiously, I never make this type of error when writing things by hand.

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