Style Guide 4 – Steven Rhodes

In any successful piece of writing grammar is the glue that holds it together, yet without these normal grammatic conventions, many successful stories function well. In our class’ Storium Scenes we have varying accounts of grammar conventions both proper and somewhat not proper. In stories like The Tape, grammar is used to intricately that it only enhances one’s knowledge of what was possible to express with regular grammar convention. Here grammar enhances the audiences’ experience when reading the text. In contrast, in the story The Violin, grammar conventions are broken consistently.(in moments of chaos) Personally, I think the breaking of grammar conventions, if used purposefully, provides a story with a depth that can’t be reached by just advanced use of grammar conventions. In any great narrative being told, I believe the narrative depth any author or authors can reach its audience is more valuable than the grammar conventions one is expected to follow.

The Tape is a children’s story that makes excellent use of grammar conventions while still following the structure of a true storium story to tap into the emotions of and even educate its younger audience. For example in Scene One of The Tape after James’ sister, Becca holds his hand as he drags her down the stairs to a room one sentence in particular sticks out “Thinking quickly, I pull my big lug of a brother to the closest room available, the closet.”When I first read the sentence I felt that there was an error when my eyes passed across the phrase “I pull my big lug of a brother.”. I was confused because I had thought lug could only be used as a verb but upon further inquiry, I realized this is a perfect use of an adjectival phrase “big lug of a brother” teaching how to explain a sentence I already understood but with the grammar convention I hadn’t previously known. It adds depth to not only the quality of the sentence but of the story in just one line because of its complexity yet elaboration on the brother. The audience gets the picture of a brother being a burden though he couldn’t actually be too heavy because he is a child using his own energy to walk. So we get this picture of Becca struggling to cooperate with her brother as she holds his hand because of their collective fear. Furthermore, the use of the three commas in one sentence caused me to stagger upon review of the sentence, yet it’s properly using commas to separate the sentence from its introductory term “Thinking Quickly”. The fact that the authors intended this to be a children’s story from interactions in class, yet I myself, a collegiate student, am learning from it only goes to show how the grammar conventions can be used to enhance the experience and the knowledge of the reader.

Such use of grammar conventions has a proper place in The Tape’s narrative, but in The Violin grammar conventions aren’t as properly followed but the audience still can connect with the story and be edified by its narrative and knowledge of the use of certain broken conventions. For example when Jink is arguing with Arthur:

“You have every right to be angry Jink…”


“I know I messed up, but how was I supposed to know your brother was a psyc…”

“Don’t you dare call him that….””

For starters,  normal rules of conversation and ways of forming normal sentences are broken right of the bat when we see the sentence “I know I messed up, but how was I supposed to know Arthur was a psyc…”. The sentence not only has three periods but is a question with no question mark and an incomplete word.  But it is used to both indicate a nuance in conversation normal people understand: Arthur was interrupted by Jink. We get the feeling someone has been interrupted by the broken sentence and lack of its proper completion. One only has to look at the sentence after to see that exactly that happened when Jink didn’t want Arthur to judge her brother by calling him a name. This leads and audience to postulate what the derogatory term might be given the incomplete word psyc, teaching the audience because of the previous context of the story that the word Arthur was about to say was psychopath. Jhin had killed his own father and Arthur and Jink had discovered this fact and Jhin’s motivations behind it. Through the breaking of the grammar convention, one learns not only how to imply emotion from the broken sentence but use context to discover what the unbroken sentence would’ve been by leading its reader there, assuming they’d read the entirety of the story. The broken convention only serves to enhance the narrative depth and connection it has with its audience both by educating its audience. And given that this story was written by college students for people of that maturity, it serves its purpose well by showing young adults that they should follow the story rather than limit oneself by grammar conventions to relate to the reader.

Overall, I think the function of correct and incorrect grammar has its purpose, but its purposeful and intentional incorrect use can provide a deeper narrative dynamic or depth than following grammar conventions does as seen in The Violin. This depth allows a story to further connect to and enhance a target audience so that the exchange for thinking of ways to break conventions and reading the story is worth its time and challenge. Because to break the normal grammar conventions one has to know the narrative conventions set in place, or else the story would be grammatically confusing due to the lack of knowledge of the conventions.