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  1. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Are you a “lucky” one?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by NaCl, Jun 17, 2008.

    After struggling to build enough courage, you posted your carefully crafted first chapter of a story you’ve been mulling for nearly a year. Reviews by your peers praise your creativity and writing skill. Even Cogito and mammamaia are speechless about the high quality of your piece.

    Nearly a week passes, when you discover that you have a “private” message in your personal page. It is from a major New York publisher, inquiring if you already committed your fabulous story to any agent or book company. Someone had pointed out your writing to her. After you reply in the negative, she refers you to a well known agent to formalize a contract (and five figure advance). Of course, you revel in your great “luck”.

    Like the fantasy?

    Well, here’s the reality...lots of members of this website post their works for review without even doing a simple spell check. As I write this post, there are 46 “members” on line and 87 unknown “guests”. Have you ever wondered who might be looking at your writing? Even your peers deserve more respect than to be asked to correct simple punctuation, spelling and grammar that could easily be identified through most word processing grammar/spell checks. I mention this, not to be petty, but because I genuinely do care about your success. Consider this...

    “Lucky” is a word often used to characterize people who get an unexpected break in life. They seize that opportunity and experience success. But what IS this strange entity called luck?

    Luck is: that which happens when preparation meets opportunity. Never forget that definition!

    If you post your works on this site and you’ve taken the small steps to “be prepared”, then if a lucky opportunity presents itself, you may be forever rewarded. By the same token, life does not serve up an endless stream of great opportunities, so every one you miss because you are not “prepared” can not be easily replaced. As you prepare to post your writing, do yourself a favor, run a simple spell and grammar check. Avoid the appearance of sloppiness. An editor or agent may see you as a diamond in the rough who only needs a little help organizing a compelling story. But if you appear so “raw”, or worse yet - unconcerned about quality - that you don’t bother to use the tools at your disposal, then that fleeting moment of opportunity will pass you by. Be lucky: be prepared.

    Good “luck”!

    .....NaCl
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    well put, salty!

    and, may i add that those 'lucky' writers probably don't need to use a spell/grammar check... and they proofread/edit their own writing, even casual posts...

    bottom line?... it's better to perfect your skills, then to rely on a mindless program to do the work for you that you should be doing yourself...
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Belt and suspenders.

    I can spell pretty well, and I freely use dictionaries when uncertain. Likewise, I have a decent, but fallible, sense for punctuation and grammar.

    But I'm an awful typist, and I know it. I also know the spelling and grammar checkers often fail to find misspellings to another legitimate word, and will also flag things as incorrect when they are just fine.

    So I proofread, the best I can, then run it through a spelling and grammar checker. Even so, I know I will miss a few places. My son is a very good proofreader, and has picked out errors that slipped through both my proofing and the word processor's checks.

    So I use every resource available to me.

    Belt and suspenders.
     
  4. Milady
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    Milady Contributing Member

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    Grammar and spelling come naturally to me--to the annoyance of my similarly essay-afflicted honor students. It's the creativity part that's hard, and a side effect of my "good" grammar is an incessant inner editor that won't let anything go.

    But I agree with NaCl (I tried to come up with an amusing nickname, but failed) in that everyone, even those afflicted with good grammar, should have the sense to check over their posts, especially their candidates for review. You might get lucky...

    *crosses fingers*
     
  5. Rebekkamaria
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    Rebekkamaria Senior Member

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    I don't know how to say this without sounding silly, but I wholeheartedly agree with you. :)

    I don't understand why waste other people's time with bad spelling. And I know everyone makes mistakes - I do (of course, since I'm not native). But to say: "I'm bad at spelling/grammar etc." and then do nothing to change that... it's just selfish and foolish.

    So, I agree. :)
     
  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    It seems to be my day to play devil’s advocate…

    On many a site I frequent, when posts are made for review, it is a common enough thing to see the following:

    “Please don’t worry about my grammar; I just want to know if I am getting my point across.”

    *sighs*

    I understand the question full well. The answer is no; you are not getting your point across to anyone when the mental eye is being forced to cross an obstacle course of spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors.

    That being said, my apologies in advance to the educators on the site…

    The education I received in the United States from the mid seventies to the mid eighties did a piss poor job at explaining to me the complexities of English. It was not until I learned Russian in the USAF that I truly understood the how and why of English syntax. It was bad enough that spelling in English has never seen a true, directed, sweeping, reform; hence it is subject to uncounted vagaries from uncounted sources. I have always been taken aback by the insane number of exceptions and exceptions to exceptions.

    I before E, except after C. Unless it says A as in neighbor and weigh. (Oh, and then watch out for words like science, and a handful of others for which we couldn’t think up a cute rhyme.)

    And why in the world would we hold on to the ough and augh spellings? Those spellings represent pronunciations which did not stick through the years of time after the invention of the printing press. But they represent history, you say? Tough! Get rid of them! Had I known Ben Franklin back in the day, I would have bought into his spelling reform. It’s laughable that we hold on to these nonsensical spellings for the sake of historical etymology. So laughable, it makes me cough. I would have thought we were smarter than this.

    That’s just crazy. Simpler to just switch to a glyph system. Japan adopted kanji at one point, why not us?

    The written form of our language has grown tedious, ponderous, and at this point, makes little sense to the non-native speaker. I’m amazed that anyone is able to learn to read and write English at all after they miss their linguistic window of opportunity (3-7 years of age.)

    So… I don’t take too much issue with helping the younger members on the site with their grammar and punctuation. If their education was at all like my own, they need all the help they can get from the rest of us.

    Thank you,
    Wrey
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Help is one thing. But for someone who wants to be a writer to not make even the effort of using a spelling checker, and to say, "Don't tell me about my SPAG, just tell me if the rest of it works," is frustrating for the reviewer.

    I know the English language is full of inconsistencies. How could it not, with as many lingusitic roots as it inherits from? But at least the mnemonics give you a starting point, and you can begin learning the exceptions by memorization.

    Words and sentences are the lumber and nails used to build a story. If you don't know how to select them, combine them, and do the finish work, what does it matter that the spacing and size of the windows and doors could be better? With boards and nails sticking out at odd angles, it's difficult to even size up the overall design, and besides, the whole structure will collapse anyway at any moment!
     
  8. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I agree completely. I revisit and fix spelling errors in posts I have made in Raven’s Lounge; I’m that neurotic! I write my posts first in Word and then copy-paste because my typing is atrocious.

    I pass up doing reviews on work that is insolently sloppy. (Yes, insolently!) When it is apparent that the individual couldn’t care less about the presentation of their work, then why should I?

    I think it is all about degree. I can spot a lazy slob from someone who just doesn’t get it, with ease. The latter will get my help; the former will get my indifference.
     
  9. LibbyAnn
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    LibbyAnn Contributing Member

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    Oh my gosh, AMEN! The US education system completely sucks at explaining SPAG. Completely. It wasn't until I got to college and had to take intensive grammar classes that I actually started to understand our language. And when you're diagramming a simple sentence and it looks like a treasure map, you know there is something seriously wrong with our language!

    The sad thing? In education classes, they teach us to NOT teach grammar to our students. Why? "Because knowing grammar won't make you a better writer...only writing will do that." I'm sorry, but I do not agree, US Education System! Grammar is important - it is important that people know when and how to use commas, how to spell words. It's not something to just brush aside because it's a difficult topic to teach (and most teachers don't understand it).

    ...I'm going to stop now because I could rant about this all day. :rolleyes:
     
  10. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    I almost disagree. I do but i dont, if that makes any sense. I was gifted with three years, 7th, 8th, and freshman, of wonderful english teachers. All three of them spent a large amount of time explaining SPAG (as you call it, it reminds me of gross chinese food from the "Uglies" trilogy) Not to mention I live in a house where grammar is corrected constantly. Whether you live here or not.

    Although, I can see where you come from. I remember an episode as a little kid actually crying in class because my teacher was confusing me on the "I could care less, i couldn't care less" sentence. I stopped asking questions after that.
     
  11. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I brought up that concept in a different thread. Have a look.

    http://www.writingforums.org/showpost.php?p=213906&postcount=7
     
  12. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    Haha, I saw that. Which is what made me think of it...normally i try to block those sort of experiences. But I got my dad to explain it to me that afternoon....and he had a very fun talk with the teacher. :)

    And to be quite honest, before coming to this site "syntax" was the thing the calculator said when you confused it. I never knew there was a special word for it. I thought it was just grammar.
     
  13. LibbyAnn
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    LibbyAnn Contributing Member

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    I guess I was making a sweeping generalization about all english teachers, back there...I apologize! Let's just say that I wasn't as lucky as you were with my english teachers. They were all wonderful, but they really didn't teach SPAG at all.
     
  14. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I can agree with this NaCl. I have been on both sides of this, posting freely without checking, and reading something that has not been checked properly. Which is why I have not posted anything lately, I have a number of stories I wish to check, and redraft before I commit them to the Internet.

    Also, I have a standard I want my stories to be at. I am guilty of being in the careless group who posts poorly written/checked work, but I have also turned myself around and started to check everything I post, so I to not make a fool of myself with silly errors.

    However, we are all human, and errors can happen to anyone, as i'm sure they do.
     
  15. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh of course. I've had english teachers do the same thing too. It did help that i had a knack for english and spelling.
     
  16. Leah Woods
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    Leah Woods Active Member

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    I try to correct my grammatical, punctuation and spelling mistakes before posting anything, but sometimes I miss things.

    From time to time I get pretty annoyed with people that are too lazy to check what they post. Reading stories with tons of mistakes is irritating.

    I think I understand difference between I could care less and I couldn't care less :D
     
  17. Charisma
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    Charisma Transposon Contributor

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    I don't know, I have never had much problem with English language, though it's not my native language. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, I may just be oblivious to the reality. (seriously)

    I do proofread posts, because it's how I do it. I don't remember what I've posted if I don't proofread it - I can't remember I even posted if I don't proofread it! I have to insert the data manually in my head, you can say, so it's a natural review of my syntax.
     
  18. Leah Woods
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    Leah Woods Active Member

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    I think it varies from person to person . Someone simply finds hard to understand anything on English while others can even write novels on English It depends how willing is person to learn and constantly perfect their knowledge of certain language. (I’m talking about non-English speakers.).

    I remember when we were learning passive voice that many classmates couldn't tell difference between past and present passive voice.
     
  19. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    That is the point of my OP. I gloss over someone's writing to decide if I want to spend time reviewing, and if I see lots of lazy mistakes, things that would easily have been caught by a simple spell check, then I will not waste my time. I have no problem with occasional random typos, things like to/two/too, that might not be caught by a spell check.

    I started this thread hoping to influence members to use the self-help tools at their disposal BEFORE posting. Without taking such a simple precaution, they may be losing out on a lot of great advice from others.

    .....NaCl
     
  20. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ah, well, thank you Salty, that is a favor we will all benefit from.
    :)
    Let's just hope the "check your own SPAG" thing catches on.
     
  21. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    amen to that, wrey!... i do the same...
     
  22. d00m5day
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    d00m5day Member

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    "sry im lazy and cant do anythin but im too lazy to chekc my spekling"

    THAT is what I see on this forum at least every one hour of intense surfing.

    It's sad how grammar is losing it's place in our English classes. Its (or It's? I'm sorry, that's how bad the Canadian English education system is) slowly losing grip in our society, people don't care as much anymore about proper writing, spelling or grammar.

    so like, dehy dont do punctution dey dont do speling and dey dont even capatilze how funny is that lol

    That is what I have to face everyday on MSN, or on forums where this "E-language" is taking over, where nobody gives a **** on how to write "sorry" anymore. It's just "sry". It bothers me sometimes, and I'm starting to lose my mind, reading all this, and I'm beginning to type like that!

    I'm using Firefox right now, so I have auto - spell check. But I really need to stop talking like a "noob".

    Thank you and good night.

    =D

    EDIT: And sometimes I talk like the above examples. srsly.
     
  23. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have a few thoughts to add to the discussion.

    While individuals may have to occasionally suffer through poorly trained or uncaring English teachers, often the opportunity to improve (English, Biology, Mathematics...you name it) is squandered by a student in the classroom. An attitude that 'it's good enough to get by' results in a student not achieving his or her potential. Internal motivation is often difficult for a teacher to instill. I suspect the 'it's good enough to get by' view is a reason so many of the posts lack even rudimentary efforts at correct grammar and spelling.

    Posting for crit is somewhat like a dry run for submitting to an ezine. Being impatient, or the feeling of accomplishment that, "I wrote this and it's awesome and I want to share it now," often prevails. There is nothing wrong with letting a section or chapter sit for a day or two before a quick edit before posting--other than the feedback will be delayed. Instant gratification. In writing and publishing very few things are instant, let alone moderately paced.

    As for anything else, so much about what has been said, I agree with.

    Many writers visit sites like this one share their expertise and give their time to help fellow writers along. But like everything else, there is a limit to time and one has to spend that time where it appears that it will be most helpful, valued and appreciated. Someone who isn’t considerate enough to fix as many simple issues with spelling and grammar as they can before posting doesn’t generally fall into that category.

    Hopefully this thread that NaCl started will open some eyes to this!

    Terry

    (Note: as has been pointed out, no one is perfect and everyone makes and overlooks typos and grammar errors, or is deficient in one grammar rule or another. That’s not what is being addressed)
     
  24. NewbieWriter
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    NewbieWriter New Member

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    I have the opposite problem. I have a ton of ideas for diffrent medias even, but my grammar is horriable and same for spelling. It doesn't help that my bad grammar makes me apear stupiderd (I bet that's not a word) then I am.
     
  25. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    doom... it's 'it's in that context, sinc you're not meaning the possessive of 'it' but the words 'it is'... you got it right the first time, wrong the second... but it's a lazy copout to blame canadian schools, since i'm sure the difference was taught to you around second grade...

    and even if it hadn't been, if you want to be a writer, you should have been able to figure it out on your own, since it's not all that hard, really... right?...
     

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