The Rise of the Novel: breaking free from grammar conventions

Following on from my last blog post on the Rise of the Novel I thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at the difference in style the Novel as a genre opened up. Prior to the novel as we now know it the Romance novel with its idealist, episodic and epic nature was the popular form of fiction. The Romance novel was largely read by women and so because of that, when the novel and its more realistic portrayal of life and individual experience came along, British high society struggled to take it seriously. In comparison to History and Philosophy the novel was looked down upon and so because of that writers attempted to justify their works morally. The educational/ moral tale was introduced and from that, life was presented as close to reality as possible and the reader was encouraged to learn from the characters mistakes. So what does this have to do with the technology revolution now? We also have to break away from certain conventions in order to establish our present day realities in our works.

My aim with this blog post is not however to go into detail about the origins of the novel. Instead it is to draw parallels between the literary and print revolution that took place between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and highlight the fact that we are living in equally as exciting times! With the rise of technology and the internet, the form of the novel is changing. As I highlighted in my previous post, the internet means that writers are less restricted by form and more able to experiment with their writing styles.

I was thinking this morning about works I am editing at the moment and had to seriously take some time out to think about the editing process. You see I am now playing with the idea of setting myself apart by coming up with my own spelling and grammar system. At the moment spelling and grammar is the largest noose ‘the gate keepers’ have on my works (well and any works for the matter). I am increasingly obsessing over the authenticity of the voice, and by having my poems and stories top and tailed with universal grammar conventions adds this editorial gleam that to be frank can at times take away from what I am trying to create. Just like the grand fathers of the British novel Defoe and Richardson who had to take a step out to show that stories had to be written in certain ways in order to realistically re – present life, I also believe that we should all try and establish unique voices. Placing the comma where it HAS to be limits that don’t you think?


About Plantain Periodicals

Hello! Welcome to the Plantain Periodicals blogs. The name stems from the kitchen moments I had with my friends at university cooking plantain and planning our lives together. I have used this space as a window into my mind and the way I make sense of all my experiences through writing.This is where I share those conversations and moments that happen inside my head as a young woman growing up in 21st century London. Hopefully you'll be entertained and also learn a thing or two. My main blog ad: My literature blog: NMx
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4 Responses to The Rise of the Novel: breaking free from grammar conventions

  1. Maggie says:

    Rules were meant to be broken! There’s a marked difference between breaking rules because you’re ignorant of them versus breaking them for an artistic reason.

  2. I agree with @Maggie. The purpose of grammar punctuation was to help more accurately convey intended meaning. When the rules of grammar and punctuation are no longer meeting that purpose, you do what you gotta do, ya’ know?
    Have you read anything by Douglas Coupland or James Ellroy? Both are novelists (of WILDLY different genres) who break the rules to give the reader a clearer take on mood and aesthetics. Go for it!

  3. I think that the idea of where a comma “has” to go might mean something different than what most grammar teachers will try and tell you. The point of punctuation is to make your writing clear. Personally, I love the 19th century style of punctuation, which is RIDDLED with commas but also gives a very clear sense of rhythm, of the ebb and flow of that author’s voice. But by modern “rules” much of that style of punctuation is wrong or at the very least unnecessary (and therefore, by modern standards of minimalism, wrong). So I think punctuation should be used to make your voice and your story as clear to the reader as possible…which is a vastly different proposition from ignoring punctuation! 🙂

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