I'm fortunate to have a "writer buddy" to bounce ideas off of, discuss esoteric plot elements with and drink plenty of beer with as well. He's also a mutant of some kind. His twisted double-helix strands somehow have empowered him to spot the most nuanced grammar or punctuation error in my work. His last name should be "White" or "Strunk."
I've been reading a few blogs and Facebook posts over the past week which are petty rumblings of rebellion at conventional grammar and punctuation rules in writing.
"So what if I split the infinitive?"
"Who say I can't end a sentence with a preposition...here."
"What's wrong with exclamation point, question mark hybrids?!"
And so on. As I'm still on a steep learning curve and continuing to define my "voice" as a writer, I pay careful attention to such elements. My writing desk is littered with reminders, Sticki-notes and reference books. But it is still a major struggle for me. Perhaps that's why I'm enjoying dialogue so much more -- one can more easily break free of the tyranny of such constraints.
I have to disagree with folks who believe the "Elements of Style" and "Chicago Style Guide" are antiquated millstones around writers' necks. They exist for a reason -- there are right ways to do things and wrong ways with an infinite spectrum between. But you're probably better off navigating the waters closer to the shorelines of convention. At least at first.
Punctuation matters. Proof below.