Stylistic Choices vs Bad Grammar in Literature

It frustrates me so much when I see reviews that criticise stylistic choices as “bad grammar.” This is especially true for non-American authors who use British or Australian English, only to be accused of making grammatical mistakes by American readers. This is not only a misunderstanding of grammar rules, but also a form of cultural bias. In this blog post, we’ll explore why readers judging stylistic choices for bad grammar are wrong and people need to stop doing it.

First, let’s address the misconception that British or Australian English is “bad grammar.” This is simply not true. While there are differences between American English and other forms of English, such as spelling, these are not grammatical errors. In fact, both forms of English are correct and follow their own rules. Just because it’s not the version of English you’re used to doesn’t mean it’s incorrect.

Furthermore, authors may make stylistic choices to intentionally break grammar rules for creative effect. This is a common practice in literature and can add depth and nuance to a story. For example, using sentence fragments or starting a sentence with a conjunction may be frowned upon in traditional grammar rules, but they can be effective ways to create a particular tone or rhythm in a piece of writing. There are a few well known literary authors who never use dialogue marks. Are they wrong? No, it’s a stylistic choice.

It’s also important to consider the author’s background and cultural context. Non-native English speakers may have a different understanding of English grammar rules or may use language in a way that reflects their culture. This doesn’t make their writing “wrong,” it simply makes it different.

Finally, readers need to recognise that their understanding of grammar rules may not be universal. There are often different conventions in different genres, and some authors may choose to deviate from these conventions for creative reasons. A reader’s personal preferences for grammar do not make them an authority on what is “correct” or “incorrect.”

In conclusion, readers judging stylistic choices for “bad grammar” are often misunderstanding the rules of grammar, ignoring cultural differences, and disregarding the author’s creative choices. We should celebrate the diversity of language and storytelling styles rather than attempting to enforce a rigid set of rules. By doing so, we can create a more inclusive and supportive community for authors and readers alike.


About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo has a degree in English Literature and specialises in reviewing contemporary, paranormal, mystery/thriller, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She is especially drawn to novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, and assassins.

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