3 hard-and-fast, ironclad writing rules you can toss out the window

In an excerpt from his new book, the copy chief at Random House skewers a few linguistic tenets that obstruct fluid composition. Fans of E. M. Forster and ‘Star Trek,’ rejoice.

Ragan Insider Premium Content
3 writing rules to break

This excerpt from Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Random House copy chief Benjamin Dreyer takes aim at three long-held fiats about writing.

[Editor’s note: To uphold the integrity and flavor of the original, and because we’re magnanimous as all get-out, we’re eschewing AP and Ragan in-house style guidelines in favor of Random House style. Just this once, though.]

1. Never begin a sentence with “and” or “but.”

No, do begin a sentence with “And” or “But,” if it strikes your fancy to do so. Great writers do it all the time. As do even not necessarily great writers, like the person who has, so far in this book, done it a few times and intends to do it a lot more.

But soft, as they used to say, here comes a caveat:

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.