Wednesday, October 21, 2009

On Grammar...

I am pretty picky about grammar. Hey, when you have taught grammar and writing for 20 years, seeing mistakes becomes second nature. I wanted to bring this up today to stress that, as a writer, it is up to you to get that grammar of yours up to speed. No, I am not talking about figuring out some of those strange rare cases, (dangling participles) but I am stressing the need for that basic understanding.

But Scott, why do we need to? If we sign with some agents, they have outside readers to fix our problems and certainly the editors have copy editors?

Well, that is correct. There are resources in place to remedy that. But the grammar issue becomes key during the early submission phase. I like to think of the Hallmark commercial and their slogan "When you care enough to send the very best," as a model. Sending along a submission that demonstrates little or no grammatical knowledge is a BIG red flag! The first thing that goes through my head is: "If this person can't put together a basic business letter or query, what will their story look like?"

If you are a person that struggles with grammar, then how do we fix it?

Some people like to spend money on paying someone to edit their work. While this sounds great, the odds are, in most cases, but not always (I am doing this to prevent people from saying "But person X does it this way)... Let me do that again. The odds are the person is just using a grammar and spelling checker. You can do the same.

Go to the settings and adjust it to look for grammar and style. Then re-check it. If you don't understand it, ask the grammar checker to explain. You can also use a great book to check this. I personally recommend, Diana Hacker's A WRITER'S REFERENCE.

You can also take grammar classes at the local college.

I don't care what you do, but let's get it figured out.


1 comment:

  1. You can also find a great online writing workshop and have someone check your work for "nits" for free (well, free after you've paid the membership fee for the site)! I recommend Very cheap plans and fellow writers give feedback on everything from character to plot to conflict to grammar and typos. If you a are nice to me on the site, I'll let you send me your entire MS and track my grammar changes in word. It's easier for someone else to see mistakes you may have glossed over because they are reading it for the first time, while you've probably told yourself the story a hundred or so times!