Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars Breaking grammar rules need not indicate fools, April 21, 2005
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This review is from: Breaking the Rules: Liberating Writers Through Innovative Grammar Instruction (Paperback)
Are you a student who wants to be more creative with writing, yet feels strapped to a rigorous regime that won't allow you some writing liberty? If so, why not take a look at Mr. Schuster's book?

This is an excellent book to help give a prospective writer more liberty in the writing he or she does. There are examples to help one see how different punctuation is used (did you know comma splices can actually be used in creative ways?). I also liked the examples that show difference between words that sound alike but have different meanings (such as compliment/complement, advice/advise, effect/affect, etc.), since these have been some of my weaker areas.

The best aspect of this book is the author's attempt to help break traditionalist grammar's stereotype: endless rules, terms, and red marks all over your assignments (remember those days?). One of my greatest fears has been the possibility of "breaking rules" and getting nowhere, having an almost incurable form of writer's block. This was a great barrier to me, preventing me from being able to write. Schuster gives actual examples from the writing of professionals that show even the pros don't necessarily follow the many rules students are taught in school. He is quite comprehensive in his coverage of English grammar; from punctuation to those pet peeves of grammatical terms, you'll find this book to be much easier to grasp than many other English grammar books.

The chapter I found most interesting was the one where Mr. Schuster discusses standard English. Some of our most famous writers (such as Shakespeare) would have been quite bound if they held to the strict standard at all times, instead of writing their thoughts directly as they came. Sometimes creativity means "violating" the standard.

This book is a good layman's reference, but if you want to dig deeper into English grammar, you may need to look elsewhere. More practice exercises would be a great booster to help strengthen the concepts in this book. I don't mean to say you don't need this book. A book like this is a great addition to the larger and often drier and bland grammar references. This book helps keep the flame of hope aglow when you feel like all else has failed and you've committed an unpardonable sin against the commandments of the grammar goddess with her infinite rules of do's and don'ts. We're not talking divine rules here, so they can be amended in good conscience to let a writer have more use of the nuts and bolts in the English language.
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