Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Few Conjunctions and Indefinites that Can Be So Wrong or Might Work So Well (in spite of themselves or us)

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by Jean Purcell

It is time to consider a few words and phrases that might, or might not, work for you, the writer.

To begin: Why--as the first word of a work, a theme, or a chapter--is SO so very irritating, annoying, and grating to the reader's mind and ear? After all, it is grammatically correct, say most wordsmiths and grammar gurus, to start a sentence with SO. 

Another example: Why was Snoopy's oft-quoted phrase, "It was a dark and storm night" so welcomed, given that such expressions have been labeled as "florid prose"? (Bulwer-Lytton also coined, for example, "the great unwashed and the pen is mightier than the sword, which some critics note as having "literary value."

To summarize: It is not good, say I, to start a piece of writing, whether essay, letter, book, chapter, or any other main division of a work or genre...with So. It is not advisable to begin a work or a sentence or a chapter with the word It, yet sometimes it works, as in "It was a dark and stormy night..., " the one time it was memorialized, thanks to Snoopy. 

And, to end this topic briefly, I will say that I try to catch and delete any beginning of a work or a chapter with the word And.
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