March 15, 2017 @ 11:44 PM

Seven sensible steps to success as a writer:
Step 3 (continued):

A writer needs to be read…

There are some writers who will say that the rules of grammar don’t matter: that the only important thing is to express yourself in whatever words using whatever structure seems best to you.But for me, the test of that belief is to study a foreign language.

You can acquire the broadest vocabulary of individual words. But unless you also know how those words fit together as nouns and pronouns, verbs, tenses, adjectives, subjects and predicates to establish meaning, you’ll remain virtually incomprehensible.

I’ve always believed the first duty of a professional writer is to be read. If readers toss your book away because they can’t understand it, it seems to me you've failed them as an author. Hence the rules of grammar and syntax are of the first importance, binding the building blocks of language together.

Of course those rules can be challenged, and the flexibility of the English language is such that it is constantly adapting to new forms and modes of expression.

But to reiterate: only those who understand the basic rules can ignore them and still retain the essential virtue of being understood.

Photos: The French version of my novella Forbidden under a new name La musique du diable (The Devil's Music – a much better title, I think).