Editing for Grammarphobes: Killing Granny
Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER
“Every woman artist has to kill her own grandmother. She perches on our shoulder whispering, ‘Don’t embarrass the family.’”
— Erica Jong, in Writers on Writing,
eds. Robert Pack and Jay Parini
Writers hear voices. That is a given.
Whether it is a heated argument between your protagonist and her husband or a secondary character and his landlord, we all have our consciousness invaded by those we create.
But, have you ever imagined your mother’s potential shock when she reads a certain chapter? Did the thought of that disapproval cause you to rewrite it and take it down a notch?
Say you are writing a scene in which your main character is severely displeased, no, really angry, no, totally pissed off, no, so infuriated she wants to scream (INSERT YOUR FAVORITE EXPLETIVE HERE). Did you pause, even for a scant second, before dropping the F-bomb, wondering what your grandfather would say?
How about sex scenes? Are you comfortable writing them, or does the notion make your squirm and giggle?
Creation demands freedom — the freedom to communicate whatever you, as the author, deem necessary to properly convey the story. This freedom threshold varies from writer to writer, which is perfectly acceptable, as long as you are the one in control of your parameters.
Not a family member.
Not a religious advisor.
Not your readers.
Writers have a responsibility to be true to their stories. Period.
I think women, especially, need to be reminded of this. So many things were considered unladylike when I was growing up.
Do not offend anyone.
Be a good little girl.