Friday, August 01, 2008

Grammar Slammer

Grammar and Punctuation is the ROOT of your writing!
As much as I hate punctuation, it is an important part of the writing process. In workshops, people tend to become lazy in checking for grammatical errors or spelling errors, thinking that the reader knows that they are either typos or just minimal errors.
When you become so comfortable in one environment, you tend to overlook things. It isn’t consciously done, usually it is unconsciously done because you’re all snug and comfy with your writing friends.

I’m not saying I don’t make typos, everyone makes typos. But when you want people to take you seriously as a writer, the first thing you need to do is put your best word forward, check and re-check and give them a story on a silver platter.

I’m making errors in punctuation all of the time. So what can I do to remedy it? I am studying grammar like a child who first learns how to walk. The child is eager as he crawls over to the table, then he grabs the table and pulls himself up.

This is what writers need to do, they need to make mistakes in the crawling stages so they can learn to walk and become writers of a strong caliber. The crawling stages were in school! In GRADE school. In high school you mastered grammar and punctuation and walked through the graduation ceremony with your head held high knowing that you did your best in achieving your goal.

Sometimes as years pass and we lose sight of our grammar and punctuation skills we need a refresher course. This is not an embarrassing situation because the time lapse between high school and when you’ve decided to become a serious writer (maybe)has laid you up for a few years in between.

When joining a writer’s workshop, this would be the perfect time for your refresher course. You want to present to the world your work, bring it to the reading public like a professional and display it in the best light possible.

I see so many people ignoring rules and guidelines because this is "just a workshop" and it isn’t a "serious submission." I like to say, "WHAT?" This is your peer’s and they are the ones who are going to point out every wrong you’ve made in your story.

Even well published author’s need editors to "fix" their work, but they have followed all of the guidelines, sent in the EXACT word count, followed the directions to the tee, and this is why editor’s are accepting what they’ve sent. They’re willing to work with the writer, but they are NOT willing to rewrite, check for hundreds of spelling errors, and punctuation faux pas.

Usually the editor takes one glance sees the first and second, okay, THIRD error? And well, all your hard work gets tossed in the bin! The best advice I can give is to check your work before clicking that "post" or "submit" button.

Isn’t your work worth more than a trash bin? Shouldn’t you try your best for your peers BEFORE sending it off to an editor?

Rule of thumb: Check, re-check, (DO NOT DEPEND ON MS TO SPELL CHECK FOR YOU) remember WORD COUNT as a habit! And most importantly: DO YOUR HOMEWORK!


June said...

As an editor who works for two publishers, when I see a bunch of "typos" of any kind I wonder what else the author has done poorly: Did he not develop the characters? Are there plot inconsistencies? etc....Did the author care so little for his story?

If so, as an editor, why should I care to read it, much less publish it?

Take care,

Anonymous said...

This is a very useful reminder, Joni.
Great idea to write and post this.