A friend and I were discussing the differences between readers vs writers, especially in the YA realm, and it got me thinking. Another way of phrasing this would be: Who Are You Writing For? VS For Whom Are You Writing? (And no, the aforementioned "for" and "are" shouldn't be capitalized. It just looked odd in lower case. 10 points if you picked up on it ;)
First of all, I want to differentiate between the Writer VS the Reader in this instance.
The Reader: She picks up a novel, looks at the cover, reads the description, and dives in. Based on the general plot and pacing of the book, the Reader will decide how she feels. It seems more often than not, the feelings swing one way or the other on the feelings scale. Love or Hate.
The Writer: She sees a cover, analyzes the logistics of design, reads the description--deciding if the plot sounds new and original--and creeps to page one. A thorough analysis is done regarding the plot, pacing, verbiage, passive voice, use of adverbs, and style. It's a sad fact: Writers can't enjoy stories as much as we used to, because we pick it apart. Based on every conceivable notion, the Writer either hates, dislikes, likes, or loves the story. But there must be purpose for every word on the page. If your purpose strays, the Writer's opinion is affected.
Now, I said all of that to say this: Readers are much more abundant than Writers. I've seen many books do extraordinarily well, and the writing was nothing exceptional. That isn't a slam to the Writer or their writing style in any way. I commend anyone on the ability to please the Reader. Best-Selling authors hold that spot for a reason. They know how to relate. The Readers don't care about you're writing as long as it strikes their fancy.
So, where does this leave the Writer? Interesting question. As Writers, the lit world beats into you: Don't use adverbs, ever! Never write with passive voice! Dream sequences are useless info-dumps, and no one cares! And so on and so on.
But...are you ready? The Reader loves a good story. They want characters who are real and engaging--most don't care if you leave a modifier dangling. They want entertainment.
I know, I know. Stifle your horror and stop gasping before you pass out. We learn all the rules in writing, and yeah, as a writer you have an obligation to not write crap. None of your work should be done halfway in the name of the Reader not caring. YOU, as the author, should care. You should always put 110% into making your work the best possible.
However, the story shouldn't suffer for the sake of grammar.
If I were to label this post, For Whom are You Writing? I'd lose some people who think I'm stuffy and pretentious. Yes, that's the correct way of asking that question. Really though, who talks like that anymore?
My point is, don't allow your work to suffer because of rules. As with everything in your writing process, you must ask yourself: Does this benefit or hurt my story? If you have to go against the grain for your writing to come across as real, don't hold back!