Most good writing conforms to the conventions of Standard English—the "rules." But great writers break rules all the time, with precision and intent. Creative divergence from "correct grammar" enlivens your writing and shapes readers' perceptions. In this class, I review the conventions (how to punctuate dialogue, for example) and show examples of effective "broken" rules from an array of sources. Students practice rule-breaking by writing or revising short passages, which they are encouraged, but not required, to share.
I’m the author of a stack of grammar books (English Grammar For Dummies, Webster’s New World Punctuation: Simplified and Applied, and more) and an educator with four decades of experience teaching every level of English from 5th grade through AP. My most recent books, 25 Great Sentences and How They Got That Way (Norton, 2020) and Sentence. A Period-to-Period Guide to Building Better Readers and Writers (Norton, 2021), explore the techniques authors use to make their writing more effective. My only remotely cool moment came when I was interviewed by a reporter from MTV about the decision by “Panic! At the Disco” to drop their exclamation point.