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For Authors: May 20, 2020 Issue [#10180]

 This week: Grammar - the foundation of good writing
  Edited by: Vivian
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Table of Contents

1. About this Newsletter
2. A Word from our Sponsor
3. Letter from the Editor
4. Editor's Picks
5. A Word from Writing.Com
6. Ask & Answer
7. Removal instructions

About This Newsletter

         I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard or read, “Why should I care about using correct grammar in my writing? That’s why they have editors.” Wrong! Most publishers don’t edit any writing that comes their way, IF they even accept any error-filled manuscript. Paying for an experienced, dependable literary editor is expensive, and the editors themselves will do only so much.

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Letter from the editor

Grammar -- the Foundation of Good Writing

         Some writers fight the idea that grammar (including sentence structure, punctuation, subject/verb agreement, pronoun usage, spelling, etc.) impacts the worthiness of writing, which is like saying failing to lay a solid foundation does not impact the stability of a building. Good grammar is extremely important. It shows the writer's professionalism and attention to detail. The writer will also be able to give an explanation that is understood.

         Grammatical errors can cause confusion, and, in the worst-case scenarios, they can completely change the meaning of a sentence. A writer not knowing how to use good grammar will make writing difficult to read. Poor grammar (including all subtexts) breaks the flow of reading, annoys the reader, and reflects badly on the writer. No-one wants to be jarred from a really interesting read by poor punctuation or glaring grammatical errors.

         Writer Melissa Donovan states:

                   Too many times I’ve heard aspiring writers shrug off good grammar,
                   saying they’d rather focus on plot or character, they’d prefer to use a
                   natural, unlearned approach to keep the writing raw, or they will simply
                   hire an editor to do the dirty work.

                   I have a hard time buying into those lines of reasoning. Refusing to bother
                   with grammar is just plain lazy, especially for writers who yearn to be more
                   than hobbyists.

         Why should writers embrace grammar rather than make excuses for ignoring it? Here are ten reasons why good grammar should be a central pursuit in writing efforts:

1. Readability
         If your work is peppered with grammatical mistakes and typos, your readers are going to have a hard time trudging through it. Nothing is more distracting than being yanked out of a good story because a word is misspelled or a punctuation mark is misplaced. You should always respect your readers enough to deliver a product that is enjoyable and easy to use.

2. Communication
         Some musicians learn to play by ear and never bother to learn how to read music. Many of them don’t even know which notes and chords they’re playing, even though they can play a full repertoire of recognizable songs and probably a few of their own. But get them in a room with other musicians and they’ll quickly become isolated. You can’t engage with others in your profession if you don’t speak the language of your industry. Good luck talking shop with writers and editors if you don’t know the parts of speech, the names of punctuation marks, and all the other components of language and writing that are related to good grammar.

3. Getting Published
         How will you get that short story, essay, or blog post published if you don’t know the basics of grammar, spelling, and punctuation? Sure, some managing editors will go over your work and clean it up for you, but most reputable publishers have enough submissions that they can toss grammatically weak work into the trash without thinking twice.

4. Working with an Editor
         I love it when writers say they can just hire an editor. This goes back to communication. If you can’t talk shop with other writers, you certainly won’t be able to converse intelligently about your work and its flaws with a professional editor.          How will you respond to feedback and revision suggestions or requests when you don’t know what the heck the editor is talking about? Remember, it’s your work. Ultimately, the final version is your call, and you won’t be able to approve it if you’re clueless about what’s wrong with it.

5. Saving Money
         Speaking of hiring an editor, you should know that editors will only go so far when correcting a manuscript. It’s unseemly to return work to a writer that is solid red with markups. Most freelance editors and proofreaders have a limit to how much they will mark up any given text, so the more grammar mistakes there are, the more surface work the editor will have to do. That means she won’t be able to get into the nitty-gritty and make significant changes that take your work from average to superior because she’s breaking a sweat just trying to make it readable.

6. Invest in Yourself
         Learning grammar is a way to invest in yourself. You don’t need anything more than a couple of good writing resources and a willingness to take the time necessary to hone your skills. In the beginning, it might be a drag, but eventually, all those grammar rules will become second nature, and you will have become a first-rate writer.

7. Respectability, Credibility, and Authority
         As a first-rate writer who has mastered good grammar, you will gain respect, credibility, and authority among your peers. People will take you seriously and regard you as a person who is committed to the craft of writing, not just some hack trying to string words together in a haphazard manner.

8. Better Writing All-Around
         When you’ve taken the time to learn grammar, it becomes second nature. As you write, the words and punctuation marks come naturally because you know what you’re doing; you’ve studied the rules and put in plenty of practice. That means you can focus more of your attention on other aspects of your work, like structure, context, and imagery (to name a few). This leads to better writing all around.

{indent{According to Toni Fitzgerald ({i}The Writer{/i}, May 2020, page 14), "Reading messy grammar is diffult."

9. Self-Awareness
         Some people don’t have it. They charge through life completely unaware of themselves or the people around them. But, most of us possess some sense of self. What sense of self can you have as a writer who doesn’t know proper grammar? That’s like being a carpenter who doesn’t know what a hammer and nails are. It’s almost indecent.

10. There’s Only One Reason to Abstain from Good Grammar
         There is really only one reason to avoid learning grammar: the writer is just plain lazy. Anything else is a silly excuse.
         No matter what trade, craft, or career one is pursuing, everyone starts with learning the basics. Actors learn how to read scripts. Scientists learn how to apply the scientific method. Politicians learn how to… well, never mind what politicians do. We are writers. We must learn how to write well, and writing well definitely requires using good grammar.

         William B. Bradshaw, and author and writing expert says:

                   Whenever I get on my soapbox about grammar, people often tell me I put too
                   much emphasis on the importance of grammar -- after all, they say, why does
                   it matter what kind of grammar people use; the important thing is whether or
                   not they understand what they are saying and writing to one another.

         However, grammar is the foundation for communication. Let’s examine some grammatical mistakes:

                    ‘She was deeply effected by the death of her beloved pet.’ Toni Fitzgerald, page15, states, "Affect is a verb, and effect is (almost always) a noun."
                   ‘Its over their.’ She gestured to the large mahogany table slowly decaying in the corner.
                   Mary didn’t know weather it was time to go or not.
                   He bought milk when he should of bought bread.
                   Let’s eat Mary.’ and ‘Let’s eat, Mary. Can you see how this could end up with Mary being eaten for dinner?
                   Goats Cheese Salad – crispy lettuce, juicy tomatoes, cucumber, goats, cheese
                   Vegetarians are certainly going to be put off this salad when they realize it contains not only cheese, but goats!
                   My interests include cooking dogs, walking, reading and watching films. Oh dear, those poor dogs. I wonder who gets to eat the canine culinary delights created by this person?

                   There is used in place of their or they're, or one of the others is used incorrectly.
                   It's and its are not interchangeable.
                   Your and you're are not the same.
                   Commas are not used where needed, or they are sprinkled like rose petals everywhere possible. Run-on sentences create a feeling of confusion in the minds of readers.

         All right (and that's another mistake, using alright for all right), some people don't know grammar well, but writers and editors definitely should. I don't know that I would want to read a book by someone who can't manage to understand the difference between homonyms (words that sound alike but have different meanings) and/or what version of a pronoun is used as the object of a preposition.

         For example, I often hear (hear not here), "That's important to Mary and I." Really? He would say "That's important to I"? Actually, that is what he did say. A compound object is the same form pronoun as a singular object. And, I have heard and read that problem from so-called well-educated people. Anything between a speaker or writer and another person means the object form MUST be used: between John and me; between my husband and me; between you and him.

1.  Correct grammar is required (except in the case of dialogue in dialect).
2.  Correct sentence and grammatical mechanics are needed. This point means correct subject/verb agreement, correct sentence structure, correct pronoun reference and usage, sentence variety, etc.3.
3.  Correct spelling is a MUST. Correct spelling includes using correct words in context. Words that sound the same but are spelled differently are misspelled if the wrong word is used: For example, they're, their, and there mean completely different things.
4.  Correct punctuation is important to avoid confusion.

         IF a person wants to be a REAL writer, he/she must know grammar to be considered professional. Therefore, if you don’t have a good grasp of grammar and all of its subtexts, learn. Find a good easy-to-understand book of grammar and read it, refer to it, and use the knowledge inside it. Find websites with grammar lessons and information.

          Grammar has much to do with good writing. It is the foundation of good writing.

Editor's Picks

Writing from Writing.Com

The PIN  [13+]
Cramp Winner: Steven gets money from the ATM when his friend Dale corrects his grammar.
by Than Pence

 I Hook By Night - A Crochet Soap  [13+]
A crochet related soap opera... a little mystery, a little drama, and crochet...DRAFTS!
by June

Crime Scene  [13+]
Tales involving crimes of various natures.
by Fictiøn Ðiva the Wørd Weava

Death Chamber  [13+]
An Undertaker knows too much about Death
by W.D.Wilcox

 The Mysterious Teatime  [18+]
This is an on-going Serial in the Mystery Newsletter.
by The Milkman

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Ask & Answer

Words from Our Readers

Odessa Molinari smiling
I'm disabled, housebound and skint. Any FREE ways to promote my novels?

         I am also disabled and housebound (I don't know what skint means). I use Facebook, Twitter, and blog posts to promote my books. I have people I know who have popular blogs to do a blog book-tour.

Regarding #8, libraries aren't always open to the idea, even if you give them your book. Creating an IngramSpark account is one way to gain some traction in libraries and stores like B&N. All the promotion in the world won't help if your local librarian looks at you like you just kicked her puppy when you cold-call and hand her your book.

         Giving libraries a copy of a book and having people request a book are two different things. Also, most libraries do not want self-published books. Even if you use IngramSpark, if you aren't through a publisher, some libraries won't accept your book. However, if you have a well-written interesting book, you can promote in many other ways.

These are some important pieces of advice needed in the publishing process. The main thing is to promote the book oneself. Social media, libraries, the internet in general, TV, and Radio; constitute important means that spread someone's new job(a book for example).
It is useful indeed. Thank you for sharing!

         You are most welcomed.

Miranda Keening
Thank you for featuring my poem!

         You are welcomed.

Thank you for joining me this issue. I hope I help you on your writing path.

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