Friday, November 1, 2013

Writing Skills Are Universal

In the past, when I have mentioned to people that my "go to" grammar and writing guide is the Diana Hacker and Nancy Sommers text, A Writer's Reference and not the Strunk and White text, I am frequently faced with the same criticism. "You know Scott, that information is good but that is for academic writing and I do fiction writing (or insert any other form of "creative writing"). I have to say, I am very frustrated when I hear this. 

As someone who spends a lot of time with writing and grammar, I simply have not seen any book out there that says elements of grammar differ in one form of writing to another. Basic elements such as paragraphing, parts of speech, punctuation and so forth simply do not differ from one form of writing to another. Yes, we do know that we can use fragments correctly in cases of dialogue. We know in poetry, we can play around capitalization and punctuation. But when it comes to grammar, the rules are pretty much standard.

I bring this up because I see far too many submissions that seem to miss the mark. Now I do understand some of these people might not understand the rules of grammar and, for these people, we have a different issue to contend with. But, for those other writers, submitting projects with errors like this simply send the wrong message to editors and agents. 

Yes, we are very much aware of situations with a typographical error now and then. With the grammar, however, there is no excuse. There is a wealth of material out there to assist writers with the grammar. If anything, there is always the grammar checker if they know how to use it. 

We have to remember that sending grammatically incorrect documents is not going to get you to that happy place of being published.

And one final note. If you are someone deciding to pass on the traditional approach to publishing where there are editors and copy editors that might catch those mistakes, you need to be extra cautious. Hire someone if you have to!

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