Writers - Are you a descriptivist or prescriptivist?

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  1. seanorjohn profile image76
    seanorjohnposted 10 years ago

    Prescriptivists  abide by grammatical rules etc

    Descriptivists go by how people are talking and communicating.

    I warn you, this is a hot topic at Uni. But, don't be shy, have your say.

    Also, feel free to criticise this "post".

    I tried my best with punctuation but I am like Mark Twain     who said to his publishers " disperse these at your pleasure" ,,,,::;;;,,'',! ? , : , " , , , ;

    1. Quilligrapher profile image79
      Quilligrapherposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      To me, your question is like asking a carpenter: “Are you a hammer or a saw?”   I think a good writer is neither one but must work to master both styles.  I see them as tools a writer applies to a particular project based in part on the topic, the audience, the venue, and the voice assigned to the narrator.  Would you use the same tone and techniques writing a speech as you would for writing a novel or a poem? I think not.  Would you force dialog between characters to adhere to strict rules of grammar? I think not. 
      I’ve never read that Mark Twain quote before and I am curious to know the context from which it was lifted.  Twain achieved huge literary notoriety and, as a result, he had extraordinary leverage over his publisher.   But the same words from a writer with less success, smack of laziness and a major disregard for the nuances of our language. 
      Naturally, seanorjohn, my opinions are offered free of charge and are definitely worth at least twice as much.

  2. RedElf profile image87
    RedElfposted 10 years ago

    Love the rolling "Q-ball"...so far there's not a lot of controversy here, and I mostly agree with what Quill had to say wink

    Wish I had Mark Twain's clout with my editor big_smilebig_smilebig_smile

  3. H.C Porter profile image82
    H.C Porterposted 10 years ago

    I agree with Quilligrapher, that as a writer you should always be striving to improve on both ends of the spectrum. As far as I am concerned with my writing strengths and abilities, it is dependent on what I am writing, for whom I am writing it for and the purpose of the writing.
    On Hub Pages I write for pleasure, so my style is less formal and I tend to let the words flow and pay little attention to grammar and punctuations (which I hope the mistakes are not too detrimental). On the other hand I also write for a Website Design and Development Company, creating anything from website content and blogs to contracts and proposals. To keep my position with the company I am more critical of my writing, especially when it comes to proper punctuation and grammar and have been given notice for the accuracy and attention to detail portrayed in my work.

  4. 2uesday profile image72
    2uesdayposted 10 years ago

    Fortunately descriptive writing comes naturally because the rules of grammar and spelling I constantly have to strive for.

    For me the descriptive is the fun part the  prescriptive is the work part.

    When I write poetry or short stories I try to follow the concept of 'get it down' (as it use to be written on paper) then 'get it right'.

    Now i have to worry someone will spot an error in this post. smile

  5. heart4theword profile image61
    heart4thewordposted 10 years ago

    Interesting question?  I think maybe a little of both is good!


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