1. Larry10001
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    Larry10001 New Member

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    Getting the story out of my head. Bad Grammar.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Larry10001, Feb 27, 2011.

    This is my first time posting on writingforums.org and my grammar...well lets just say I didn't get A's in English class. So please bear with me.

    About 11 years ago I injured my neck. Long story short, because of it I have been unable to work for the past 5 years, and I’m now on Social Security Disability.

    Not being able to earn a Living is really starting to get to me, and after having 3 people tell me I should write, I’m giving it a try.

    My problem (if you want to call it that) begins with me having complete stories in my mind. I’m not just talking about ideas for stories, I mean complete beginning to end stories. It’s as if I have VOD in my mind. I’m able to get the story out of my mind and on paper (or i guess Pages, I use a Mac), but my grammar, again lets just say, not so good.

    My question this: is it unusual for a good writer to have bad grammar? I only ask this because although I was never officially diagnosed with it, in College I was told that I have Dyslexia. It’s not so bad that I can’t write, the problem is that I make stupid basic mistakes such as when I want to write want, I write what, or who somehow becomes how. I also find myself doubling up on words. I can self edit my work several times over and over and never see any of my errors, and I have yet to find a proofreading tool that’s designed for Dyslexia.

    So is there anyone how can identify with my struggle? I can’t believe that in the history of all good writers they all had perfect grammar.
     
  2. Mystic_snowfang
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    Mystic_snowfang Member

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    We don't my friend. Write first, get everything down. Then use a spellchecker, ask a friend or family member to read it over. Read it over yourself. That sorta stuff
     
  3. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    You don't need to worry about good grammer so much on your first draft. That's what editing is for. :) And if you want to ask for help in looking at samples of your work, there are penty here willing to help.

    Don't feel bad about dyslexia, either. I know of at least one best selling author (Terry Goodkind) who has the same problem. He didn't learn abot it until he was an adult. He works through it. :D
     
  4. lost123
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    lost123 Senior Member

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    I think my grammar is very bad but who cares, the important thing is I can make the reader interested in my story.
     
  5. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    Spell checkers will help to some extent, but it's not full proof, specially when you write 'how' instead of 'who', because technically 'how' isn't spelled wrong. Judging from your post, your condition isn't bad, I don't see any mistakes here, grammar as well as spelling.

    Yes, good writer should have a good command for grammar, but every good writer isn't an A grade English student. In a way, grammar and spelling mistakes are the easiest to fix. Get the grammar basics right, then learn to self edit. Yes, it is common for writers to miss their own mistakes while editing, which is where workshops like this forum is very helpful. So, write, write, write and edit, edit, edit.... I am sure you will make fever mistakes (because nobody can write a perfect draft) in due time. Good luck.
     
  6. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    Many writers start out having trouble with grammar and spelling. It's normal. While people know the rules of their native language pretty well by age 12, knowing the rules and using the rules are two different things. As a result, people need to practice in order to use grammar well -- and in some places (the United States, for example) the school system doesn't make students write enough for them to get good.

    Think of it this way: an essay due every three weeks might add up to 10,000 words in a semester. (Most classrooms won't assign that much, sadly.) Times eight semesters, and you've spent four years of high school to write 80,000 words. So writing one book can give you more writing practice than four years of high school.

    In other words, it is pretty typical for writers to start out annoyed at themselves because they're using bad grammar. It's fine, honestly, and if you keep writing (read: keep practicing) you'll get better and better.

    In addition, there are some successful writers who have had to deal with dyslexia. Kristine Kathryn Rusch, a writer who has been living off her work for more than twenty years now, had to overcome dyslexia. Some of that was sheer determination -- she was not going to let a minor mental quirk stop her writing career. And some of that was experience. Over time, she got better and better at learning what words she was likely to misspell, and she learned to double-check those words when she was done.

    Now she's an award winning author. It can be done. And you're already part way there, since you already know that you need to check "who / how" and "what / want". That's exactly the kind of self-knowledge you're going to need.

    Some things to help:

    1. Print the story when it's finished and read it aloud, all the way to the end. If you find an error, mark it with a pen and fix it later. This is really useful for "who / how" problems, for example. And if you use Courier or Courier New as the font, you can more easily circle spelling errors than if you use a thinner font like Times New Roman.

    2. Keep writing. Practice helps more than anything else I can think of.

    3. Focus on the story, not the individual sentences. I know that sounds weird, but we don't buy books because they're "50 pages of fine grammar". Heck no! We buy books because of the stories inside. And if you have a really good story, readers aren't likely to mind the occasional spelling or grammar error.

    (This is especially true since good writers often use "bad grammar" deliberately when it serves the needs of the story. In The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson, there are fragment sentences and one-sentence paragraphs, even sentences that are spread out over several paragraphs. The book is amazing, one of the better fantasy stories I've ever read, and I read like a starving man might eat.)

    4. And keep writing. It's worth saying twice. Beginning writers go through the same problems: what they write on paper seems inadequate; they have trouble with grammar and spelling, with plot and characterization; they don't know how to foreshadow, how to blend action with description. Everyone goes through this. The ones who keep writing eventually get published. The ones who quit, don't.

    As J. Konrath has said, there's an English word for a beginning writer who never gives up. Published.

    Best of luck with your writing.
     
  7. Spring Gem
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    Spring Gem Member

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    Another very successful writer who also happens to be dyslexic is Debbie Macomber. I can only echo the advice the others have given. Write your story first, then worry about grammar.

    Good Luck.
    Lavern
     
  8. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't worry. Really, that's the best advice I can give you.

    Just try writing something and see where it takes you. Don't put pressure on yourself to make it 'perfect'. No first draft ever is. That's what editing is for.

    Good luck.
     
  9. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree the grammar in a first draft doesn't have to matter and chances are as you write it will improve. Get yourself a grammar book and read it, include a grammar check which will pick up fragmented sentences etc (ignore it over some things).

    Just write - my SPaG is hampered by dyspraxia, dyslexia and an odd dialect. It has improved a lot this year. Once you have that first draft you should feel a huge sense of achievment and can work on the rest. SPaG can be learned - imagination, character building and plot can be taught but it is harder to do so.
     
  10. Halcyon
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    Halcyon Contributing Member Contributor

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    "You don't need to worry about good grammer..."

    LOL Ellipse ;)
     
  11. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    And for making the point so elegantly the prize goes to ... :p
     
  12. Penforth
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    Penforth New Member

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    There's a reason there are story ideas in your head. And all that matters on the first draft is turning those ideas into written words - even if those words are misspelled and in poorly constructed sentences. There's plenty of time to worry about all that in the second, third, fourth, and fifth draft. ;)
     
  13. Larry10001
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    Larry10001 New Member

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    Wow! Last night when I posted this I thought maybe one or people might respond to my post. Wow! I would like to say thank you to everyone for your encouraging and helpful words. Sometimes, it can be very difficult to battle through when I know that I’m making mistakes but can’t see them. Just knowing that I’m not the only writer (I think that’s the first time I’ve every referred to myself as a writer) with these problems definitely is a relief, and helps in my battle to get the words out of my head.

    I should also mention that as fate would have it, I married an English Major. Having her to edit my work is a great resource. The only thing though is that sometimes my writing errors can be so bad that my wife gets frustrated just trying to make sense of what I’m trying to write. Although she understands the difficulty I have with spelling and grammar, from her perspective it should be as easy as learning your ABC’s. When she edits my work and points the errors out to me I almost every time can correct them without problem, but still people such as my wife who have no difficulty with grammar and spelling can find it frustrating to work with me, and that sometimes make me want to give up. But I’m not going to and I’m going to take everyone’s encouraging words and as I say it battle through.

    BTW...I need to give credit were credit is due. My very beautiful, wonderful, and understanding wife edited both my original post and this one. I also should point out that she would never want be to give up.
     
  14. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    You are lucky to have an English major for a wife. Here's a workable solution: you speak and audio tape your story in your own time, and she can write/type it down in her own time. This could save a lot of her time, and frustration :)
     
  15. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    You just had to go and get technical on me. :p
     
  16. Larry10001
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    Larry10001 New Member

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    I have couple more questions and maybe I should ask them in a new post but I will ask here first because they do pertain to my original post.

    Many of the recommendations that have been given to me here involve getting the story into a 1st draft before doing anything else.

    I don’t know if anyone here can understand where I’m coming from, so maybe I should clarify my set of circumstances better. Along with dyslexia, I also have what could be best described as a photographic memory (I consider this both a blessing and a curse). Like I said in my original post, I have complete beginning-to-end stories in my mind. I can view these stories as if they were movies, in which case I would get the story out of my head and into script, or I can view, or perhaps I should say listen to these stories as if they were an audio book and type the story as I’m listening to it (I find this way, easier but only because I have yet to learn the proper way to format a script). So in many ways, I already have the first draft completed. It just happens to be in my mind. Of course I realize that having a story in my head is not in anyway the same as having a 1st draft on paper, so please bear with me.

    I should also say that I have absolutely no training/education whatsoever when it comes to writing. The closest I’ve ever come to what might be considered training would be the English classes that I was required to take over 20 year ago when I was in college, and at that time in my life I had absolutely no interest in writing at all. If fact, if anyone then would have told me now I would even be trying to write a book, I would have thought they were crazy.

    So here are my questions:

    First is getting the story out of my head and into a first draft the absolute best way to write?

    I only ask this because when I write I usually start with the beginning, or first couple of chapters of the story that is in my mind. Then I force myself to clear my mind of the story for at least a day or else the story in my mind will start to try to come out all-at-once. After a day or so, I come back to what I have already written, then edit and develop the characters and the plot of the story. After editing what could be called the second or even third draft, I start typing a few more chapters again from what I would call the first draft in my head. When it gets to the point that my mind starts to get ahead of my typing skills, I clear my mind of the story again. Then a day later, start the process over from the beginning of the story continuing this way of writing until I have what could be considered a final draft. (I really hope that made sense).

    I have worked this way now with 3 short stories. These stories all involved real life memories in my life (or what might be called writing from the heart) and now is the first time I’ve tried to use this process or style/way of writing to create a fictional story.

    So again I ask the question? Is getting the story into a first draft the absolute best way to write, or is the way I described above OK? Like I stated above, I have no formal training when it comes to writing. So I have no idea if the way I described above is an unusual way to write?

    I would also like to say that if I’m successful in getting a good story written that people tell me is at least readable. I will most likely sign up for classes to help me become a better writer.
     
  17. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    Whatever one may called it (it's also called dream-storming), all writers do it, intentionally or unintentionally, even though the degree of clarity may vary. I for one have to have a clear picture of the scene just before I write it, but I intentionally leave the yet-to-be-written parts of the story somewhat vague: for more flexibility, if you like.

    Viewing it like a movie is fine, but don't write it like a movie, meaning, there usually are lots of unnecessary details you can leave out while actually writing it. (This is actually one reason why a story in your head can't be called a draft)

    Let's be clear about one thing: how may you have done it, the first time you have a story WRITTEN DOWN from beginning to end is called the first draft, and it may or may not be the final draft. Personally, I can't think of my first draft becoming my final draft. You are only limiting yourself if your first draft is the final draft because any first draft can invariably be improved imo.

    As far as the way you are doing it is concern, believe me you are not a special case. Many writers do it this way: one paragraph/scene/chapter--edit--next para/scene/chapter-edit-...... The only disadvantage of this is that it slows you down to let the story out on paper, because ultimately, your aim as a writer is to let the story out on paper or computer. You said "or else the story in my mind will start to try to come out all-at-once", well, I say, let the story come out when it wants to. Consider yourself lucky because what you are saying is the opposite of the dreaded writer's block.
     

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