Just because you have auto-correct now, doesn’t mean you can forsake good grammar.

Facebook doesn’t care if you’re responsible with your apostrophes so long as you post as many inane and pointless status updates as possible. The only punctuation mark that Twitter cares about is its godforsaken hash tag. The YouTube rappersphere doesn’t even adhere to basic spelling; it’s all about dis, dat and da next thang. And finally, and possibly the most devastatingly, the age-old art of letter writing (now known as texting), has been transformed into a terrifying amalgamation of shorthand (e.g. “where r u?”) and auto-correct, rendering the smart phone-wielding population just plain bloody useless. 

There is however, a basic necessity for good grammar and I need only give you one example: 

  • Let’s eat Grandma.
  • Let’s eat, Grandma. 

Commas save lives. Use them. (Correctly, please.)

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Infiltrating Facebook with a little bookish madness!

I have ranted and raved about how infuriatingly stupid and inane the majority of Facebook statuses are. Grammatically incorrect, boring and unintelligent, statuses of this calibre definitely feature on my list of things-to-eradicate-from-this-earth. How might I go about doing this? Frankly, I haven’t a clue! But I have just created a ‘Free Page Numbers’ Facebook page and plan to spread my grammatically correct roots from there!

Join me!

Contrary to what your Facebook friends believe…there is such a thing as grammar.

Facebook status update

Well, apparently it’s not correct grammar.

I am a Facebook user, as I think the majority of Western civilisation is also. I have 301 ‘Facebook friends’, a list comprised of my family, friends, students who attend my former high school, past drama coaches, peers and colleagues. At least half of these people fall into the 17 to 19 age bracket with the rest ranging from ages 13 to 30. Included in the 301 are high school students, university students, university graduates, artists, sportsmen, academics, bilingual travellers, waitresses, tradesmen and socialites. Most are Australian, some are French, a couple are British and one is American. Yes, my Facebook friends are quite a diverse group. However, there is an attribute that 99% of the people in this group have in common and I’m not referring to their sharing the privilege of knowing me.

Grammar. Spelling. Punctuation. Or, more to the point, a gross lack thereof.

I understand that Facebook’s primary purpose is to unite friends with a web platform on which to share photos, ideas, experiences and memories. (That little description makes Facebook sound quite wonderful, doesn’t it?) I therefore also understand that perfect grammar and spelling are not priorities (or even features, sadly) but the brutal truth is that the majority of statuses and comments that appear on my newsfeed paint their authors in shades of uneducated, ignorant and lazy.

For example and without exaggeration, here are a few statuses that appear on my newsfeed at this very moment:

had a wonderful dinner at the downs hotel thank you to my wonderful boyfriend dan love you lots

Firstly, there is not a single punctuation mark or capital letter in spite of there being three different sentences and a proper noun. Secondly, without these incremental facets of the English language, the status is actual nonsense and, for me, required a second read-through in order to deduce its meaning. Another example:

So someone put in my mailbox a valentines card, spelt my name wrong… Told me im gorgeous and said come and find me…. Most lovely thing I’ve got

There are so many things wrong with this series of disturbingly fractured sentences, I think I might actually cry. (Kidding! Sort of…) I understand the need to sacrifice textbook grammar for narrative effect but there is absolutely no excuse to disrespect the conventions of good writing for the sake of…of…of what, exactly is this person sacrificing the basic rules of writing for? It really doesn’t take that much longer to construct a good sentence and maybe even (this may be too much to ask) venture beyond the standard, boring Facebook vocabulary.

If it were me, I would spend a millisecond longer writing my status to ensure maximum impact and a wonderfully entertaining status for me friends. I don’t, after all, want to blend in with the mind-numbing, soul-destroying ‘like for a like’ crowd. I would write:

So, after casually strolling to my mailbox with the expectation that I’d find a wad of bills and catalogues, I was flabbergasted to find what resembled a Valentine’s Day card. While at first, my heart skipped a beat, this excitement soon gave way to confusion upon finding my name spelt wrong, a proclamation that I’m ‘gorgeous’ and a request for me to find the sender. However, this little specimen of romance is the loveliest thing I’ve ever received!

I don’t know about you, but I would far rather read a miniature narrative of this sort than another poorly written, ill-expressed jumble of words. Admittedly, I would never bother to write such a paragraph (despite just having done so) for the sake of updating my Facebook page and, I must confess, I have never actually posted a status of this length or calibre but I think you gather my gist, yes? Good grammar is sexy, sounds better, reads better, is one thousand times more entertaining and is illustrative of intelligence.

A found a picture a few days ago that lists exactly the ten rules of grammar that I see most often flouted:

Grammar Peeves

If one more person writes anything resembling: “your pretty” or “i went to there house”, I might actually explode.

What are your grammar peeves?

The minefield that is Fan Fiction

Aspiring authors, amateur writers and passionate readers, lacking their own characters but overflowing with words and ideas and a desire to put pen to page (or finger to keyboard), respectfully take characters who aren’t theirs and throw them into plots and settings of their own creation. Twain’s Huckleberry sees a world he could never have imagined if left within the binding of his original novel. Hermione and Draco’s love affair would have remained forever suppressed by the conventions of J.K.’s plot if it weren’t for those who nurtured a literary setting in which the seeds of their love could be sown. Shakespeare’s star-cross’d lovers live beyond the untimely fate that made their impetuous love so famous. Yes, it is a world where anything is possible, where the very natures of characters are twisted, where plots are recreated and redirected and where our favourite stories develop new chapters… It is the world of fan fiction.

Sounds fantastical doesn’t it? Amazing, breath-taking, captivating? Well…sometimes. The greatest flaw in the fan fiction phenomenon is the presence of horrendous grammar, appalling spelling and weak plot and character development, all of which combine to disappoint readers who look to fan fiction in search of an extension of their favourite stories. Imagine if your most beloved character was recast in an amateur writer’s messily structured, poorly written fan story? I know that for me, being an obsessive compulsive adorer of succulent literature, such an abominable bastardization of  my beloved characters would be heart-breaking…has been heart-breaking. The world of fan fiction is a minefield, a vast plain of mediocre writing throughout which horrors are interspersed but which also fosters a few little literary gems which, when stumbled upon, send joyful chills down readers’ spines.

I have had both great fortune and terrible misfortune when it comes to riffling through the countless pages of online fan fiction. I have been reduced to grief by terrible takes on classic stories but I have also laughed and sighed and loved to the tune of excellent exposes of fan writing. The very best examples are a breath of fresh air and can inspire the pursuit of authorship, good grammar and further reading, all of which, in my humble opinion, are beneficial to the literary industry.

Want an example? I thought you’d never ask. There is one online author whose writing makes me giddy with pleasure. Impeccable grammar, a vast vocabulary and creative plotting make her own chapters of Death Note and Harry Potter wonderful must-reads if either of the originals ever appealed to you. A little extract of her Harry Potter story titled ‘Her and Me’:

Chapter One

A Painfully Normal Day

It was on an utterly mundane Wednesday evening that Hermione Granger’s painstakingly orderly, painfully normal life went straight to Hell.

Absently she chewed on a cuticle as she skimmed the letter. It was another complaint, which wasn’t surprising, given that they were all complaints, because that was her job, but this particular specimen was getting on her nerves. Not only was it petulant and petty, it was badly-worded and defied the tenets of basic grammar. If there was one thing Hermione Granger hated, it was—

“Hello, love.”

—Draco Malfoy.

…DRACO MALFOY?

She blinked three times, but he persisted in existing there, lounging idly against her desk, grinning down at her like he knew something she didn’t. Maybe he did. No, probably he did.

“M…alfoy?” she hazarded. He was wearing a white button-up shirt, gray slacks, and the same complacent grin he’d paraded around in all through school. His hair was on the short side and a little ragged, as if he had directed the barber to make it appear that he’d cut it himself, but he was still quite unmistakably Draco Malfoy.

His smirk widened at her miserable excuse for a greeting, and he shot off a quick salute. “In the flesh,” he confirmed. He paused and pursed exquisite lips. “I take your blank expression and enduring silence as signs that you’re too happy to see me to speak.”

This minuscule insight into her twenty chapter tale of Hermione’s and Draco’s post-Hogwarts lives does not fully convey the author’s grammatical brilliance and witty plotting but does, I feel, demonstrate the beginnings of good writing. For the rest of this hilarious and enchanting read, click here. I promise, you won’t regret it.

The First Page

Hello Readers!

Let me introduce myself: I am an eighteen year old, Australian girl with an obsessive love for books, magazines, newspapers, libraries, book stores, correct grammar and in general, the written word. Living in a society preoccupied with a shorthand born on Facebook and email, a nerd like myself needs a place dedicated to the unadulterated beauty of language, literature and fiction. So, welcome to Free Page Numbers!

I am not alone in having a list of books to read, to buy and to watch the film version. Admit it, you have your own forms of these lists too. Join me here to share your favourite reads, your bookish opinions, your literary news and your biblio-havens! It’s a free-for-all nerd-fest and everyone’s invited.