1. Hannibal Alexander
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    Hannibal Alexander Senior Member

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    Grammar!!!!!

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Hannibal Alexander, Apr 1, 2013.

    Hey fellow writers,

    what do you think about this.
    I've been told over and over not to over-think when I write and just to simply WRITE. so yeah, maybe I don't pay all that much attention to Grammar when I'm writing because I'm trying to get my thoughts out while they are still fresh you know.

    And I've been posting a few stories on here, and all people seem to care about is the grammar.

    Which makes me think of my current and previous English classes, where we had to read "classic" novels... and in a lot of them, the sentence structure, punctuation and etc are foreign to me and at times confusing... but you can look past that and get to the meat of the story.

    I'm just wondering why it's so difficult for people to get past bad grammar and just comprehend the meat of the story. I mean my grammar can't be THAT horrible. (but it possibly is)
     
  2. Quille
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    Quille Senior Member

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    People are giving you grammar tips to be helpful. A lot of the people in here want to be/are professionally published and bad grammar will prevent that.
    Do you use Word and run a grammar check before you post? It's not always accurate but it is at least a start and it will give you an explanation if you pick that option.
    I will take a look at your submissions and look past the grammar:)
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Are you sure this is a grammar issue? It might be that the styles of the novels are difficult to get used to. Can you provide some examples of the novels you're talking about?

    Well, if the writer can't communicate properly, there's really no way for the reader to comprehend what's going on. You can't blame the reader in this case.

    There certainly are times when the traditional rules of grammar can be broken, but I would say that the writer has to be extra careful in such cases. Otherwise, he/she won't be understood.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    That might be fine for a first rough draft, but not for anything finished enough to share. Of course a few grammar errors and/or typos will show up in some almost final drafts. Those shouldn't garner the response you are describing so I'm guessing some of the errors you are making are more than simple.

    When my son was in kindergarten they were using some untested (I believe) method of letting kids misspell words so their writing was uninhibited. I didn't agree because I know how hard it is to unlearn then re-learn something as opposed to getting used to seeing it right in the first place. If you really were taught to write without a grammar care, maybe this is evidence the technique is not the best.

    I can see letting very young kids write with their natural mistakes. But I'd want them to see the correct versions and simply be told there are no points lost for getting it wrong. But a learning mind can't look at uncorrected spelling and grammar without the uncorrected material being absorbed.

    Perhaps you should reconsider this assumption.

    Foreign vs wrong are two different things.
     
  5. Hannibal Alexander
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    Hannibal Alexander Senior Member

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    not really in the context i'm talking about here.
    i'm saying that the structure of those "classic" novels is confusing to me and hard to read, but eventually i get through it to get to the meat of the story.
    whereas, in my opinion at least, grammar is the same thing. it might confuse people because of how horribly terrible it is, but eventually if you keep reading you can get to the meat of the point.
    i guess i'm wrong. let me shutup. :)
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I can figure out what one of our foreign born forum members is saying, that doesn't make the stuff he writes ready for prime time. Reading Shakespeare's translated-as-they-were-written plays or the Bible are not fun reads but you can slog through either.

    It's a false analogy to compare these things to someone writing with poor grammar.

    How about citing an example of what you wrote a and what comments were made so we can see better what you are talking about. You just need to post a link to the thread and give us the post numbers to look at.
     
  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't want to come across here as the meanest guy on the forum, but years ago Cogito posted in the Rules section something called How To Use The Writing Workshop. One of the points is: "Don't tell people you dashed it off in fifteen minutes while drunk and it's probably full of errors. You're asking people to take the time to pick your writing apart and offer ways to improve it. The least you can do is put some effort into cleaning it up first, so you don't just get suggestions you could have fixed on your own."

    It's just bad manners to post your rawest first draft for review. Edit it, check it over, fix the grammar errors, and generally make it as good as you can before you ask someone else to critique. That way, the critiquer isn't wasting his or her time pointing out all the really obvious SPaG problems and can focus on the content of the story. You're disrespecting the critiquers by posting a lousy, error-filled draft for review. It helps them, and by extension helps you, to post your best effort, not your worst.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    But those classic novels will follow the rules of grammar. They might use complex or formal sentence structures, but they all adhere to a specific set of rules. Once you learn those rules for one book, they will apply to many other books. The investment pays off permanently.

    When a person has to learn a special grammar just for your writing, that learning doesn't apply to any other writing--possibly not even your next piece of writing, because if you're not using a fixed set of rules, your grammar may not be the same next time. The investment doesn't have any application anywhere else.

    Each writer is expected to learn the accepted rules of grammar, rather than demanding that the readers learn the writer's grammar.
     
  9. Ian J.
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    Ian J. Active Member

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    As a writer, spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPaG) are the basic tools of your trade for communicating to your readers. While it's often possible for a reader to look past them to get to the meat of a story, if they are sufficiently poorly implemented it disrupts said reader's flow. Readers will have learnt their language well enough that they will be used to standard patterns of words, and by not having to fight with odd arrangements they are helped to get on with understanding the meaning of the words. Disrupt those patterns and you kick the reader out of your writing, much like bad shooting/editing of a film can keep a viewer constantly aware that they are watching a film, and hence be stopped from getting absorbed in the meaning of the story.

    Sometimes an author will deliberately challenge such notions of patterns, but they will do so knowing the rules they are breaking and knowing why they are doing it. Poor SPaG (and especially inconsistent poor SPaG) will cause the writer to be seen by readers as at best inexperienced, and at worst uncaring of both their own work and the readers' experience of reading it.

    Therefore, good SPaG puts over the sense of value and worth that you as a writer have in your own writing, and in how you value your readership.
     
  10. John Eff
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    John Eff Member

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    I'm one of those who commented on your story, though my remarks were directed mainly towards punctuation. However, the same principles apply to grammar.

    The problem with a piece of writing laced with errors is that they detract hugely from the story and provide a minefield for the reader to negotiate. With the reader's attention focused on trying to pick a way through, is it surprising that the landscape goes unnoticed? The story I commented on has a solid basis (I said so) but was largely lost.

    I fully understand what you're driving at with regard to seeing past the errors to the story itself but, apart from anything else, the fact is that readers in general don't want to have to work so hard, and will in all probability resent an approach from an author which may seem like 'I know what I mean to say - you figure it out.' (I hasten to add that I'm in no way suggesting this is what you've done, but how it could be perceived.)

    There's a saying that's been doing the rounds for years along the lines of punctuation being a courtesy to the reader to aid him to read without stumbling. Hackneyed it may be, but it's also perfectly valid. A firm grip on punctuation and grammar will also help you get your story across so much the better.

    Don't give up! You have imagination and a desire to write, and the two will combine to great effect if you pay attention to the niceties.
     
  11. summerrain
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    summerrain Member

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    grammer and punctuation

    I agree how important using the proper grammer and punctuation is. I'm guilty of it all. It's so very frustrating.
    This whole subject reminds me that old grammatical error, in these two sentences:
    "Let's eat, gramma!" versus: "Let's eat gramma!" No? I've always laughed a this.:)
     
  12. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you misunderstood your teacher. When they say "just write, don't worry about grammar, spelling etc" that only means the first draft. Then you have to edit it until it is grammatically, spelling-wise, syntactically and content-wise as perfect as you can get it, before you show it to anyone.

    Not editing your stories fully will deeply offend the readers, because it is disrespectful to them. A person who wants a be a writer automatically, in the eyes of others, promises that he/she has an interesting story to tell and that he/she will write it well. Under this implied "contract" people pick up things to read.
    If you as a writer fail your end of the bargain, by passing unfinished drafts with grammar errors etc as finished stories, you will not be received well at all.
    And if you are too lazy and disinterested to learn the grammar of the language you want to write in, then you have no business calling yourself a writer. I am not saying that you are disinterested, just making the point that you must get interested if you want to be a successful.

    Grammar is serious stuff ;)
     
  13. Simmy1993
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    Simmy1993 Member

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    The internet has caused the term 'Grammar Nazi' to appear. We're combining grammar with an ideology that led to mass genocide.

    If that doesn't make you think that grammar is a big deal, I dunno what will.

    I also realize I just broke Godwin's Law. Damnnit.
     
  14. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    for the first draft, "Just Writing" is fine, but be prepared to go back and fine tune everything in the following drafts, i think i did something like nine drafts for one piece of 2,500 word coursework where it needed to be edited and re-edited again and again....
    its laborious, but totally worth it
     
  15. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    .
    The chef goes wild. In the pan this and that - a little spice, a little cream. 190 and add the herbs. Duck still pink. Imagination on overdrive. Never done that before. And he taste's it. Wow! That is good. Must let Marco Pierre White think about giving me some stars.

    I'm not even going to taste it. Don't insult me. Take it away. Dirty plate, dirty cutlery. Ill-presented. Sauce dripping off the plate. Fingerprints and lipsick on the glass....

    The taste of the meal amounts to nought because it's been lost in shoddy and ill-conceived presentation. Excerpts for review are no different.

    Write a draft in shorthand and crayon and spatter it with ink stains - it matters not. But public review is a different recipe, and effort must be seen to have been made.
     
  16. alexa_
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    alexa_ Banned

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    You should reconsider the way you write, the very process, I mean. For sure, when you are laying your thoughts onto the paper, you may not care about Grammar, the main thing is to catch inspiration. But later, when everything is completed you should edit your work from the Grammar point of view, as well.
     
  17. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    As was already said, in the first draft you can use Aramaic grammar rules if it suits you, but once the work is over and you start to edit you have to pay attention to grammar. It is the least courtesy you can show to your reader. If you write a wonderful story but i have to stop twice in every page to think what the correct form of that sentence would be, i would lose interest pretty soon. There are hundreds of free grammar check programs out there but if you want to write for others to read you should buy a good one.
     
  18. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    As others have already noted, the advice to "just get the story out" is solid. But, as also previously pointed out, that is first draft advice. Get the story down. Get it out of your head and onto the page. Then comes re-writes and proofing and editing and ... When you start turning it over to others for critique and comment, you want to be sure you've already covered the territory of grammatical errors, etc. or you should expect to get comments on such things. And, if your goal is to become a professional author, to sell your work and make money ... actually make a living to any degree by that craft, then you had darned sure better be willing to learn how to do it right. And that means learn the particulars of grammar and syntax and structure ... or do a lot of proof checking after the fact to make sure you got it right. Otherwise, have someone you trust whom you feel has a better grasp of those basics to perform your first technical read.

    But, when you do send it out for others to read and comment on, if they coment on grammar errors, accept that they are really not trying to put you down. They are just trying to help a fellow writer.
     
  19. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Excellent allegory!
     
  20. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Speaking and writing are both learned skills, not natural instincts. In order to make your meaning as clear as possible to others, it is best to follow basic grammar rules.

    Let's say two people are born with beautiful singing voices. One of them goes to music lessons, is trained well at an early age and becomes an opera singer. The other gives performances locally, forms a band and becomes a folk singer. The folk singer doesn't have the vocal range of the opera singer, although the opera singer is able to sing the folk singer's songs.

    There have been great writers with poor(ish) grammar, but you can bet they spent most of their working life trying to improve their skills. They were also generally from underprivileged backgrounds--it was not because they were lazy at school or had a cavalier attitude.

    I don't understand why people can't accept that having good grammar is an incredible advantage, and I wish schools did more to install a higher standard of English...Oh, yes...sadly it seems there aren't enough qualified teachers these days.
     
  21. Mithrandir
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    Mithrandir Contributing Member

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    Until I took college grammar, none of my teachers seemed to have a consistent understanding of the subject at all. Several books, like Rhetorical Grammar and The Elements of Style, really helped the overall quality of my writing. I eliminated a lot of the SPaG errors that would have cropped up during the first draft. It really isn't all that painful to improve one's grammar.

    /end rant
     
  22. Hannibal Alexander
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    Hannibal Alexander Senior Member

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    I just didn't think this very informal website was going to expect me to post Final Drafts. I guess that's where I went wrong.
    I'm sure there are other writers out there who are working on something, but want to get a feel for what people think of it before they complete it. That's what I was somewhat expecting from this site, which is why I didn't go and correct the Grammar.
    so... my bad!

    It's not that I don't think Grammar is important, and especially for a final draft, I'm not a complete idiot.
    I guess I just misunderstood how this board works.
     
  23. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    So in other words, we aren't worth making an effort for?

    But never mind that. If you present a piece of writing to anyone for feedback, and it;s full of misspellings and usage errors, do you really expect the comments to be about the depth of your characters? It's like trying to admire a scenic view through a grimy window; it's hard to see past the streaks and clumps of muck.

    Do you want feedback on the things you are perfectly capable of fixing? Or do you want recommendations about the things you just can't put your finger on?

    So never mind respect for the people you want assistance from. Present a clean manuscript out of pure self-interest.
     
  24. Hannibal Alexander
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    Hannibal Alexander Senior Member

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    I'm totally going to let this go now.
    Thanks everybody for the comments and the critiques and stuff.
    Sorry for the Disrespect.
     
  25. Michael O
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    Michael O Contributing Member

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    Hello!

    Grammar.....How do you decide between active and passive sentences? Is there a magic ratio?

    I can see the ease in reading active sentences. But at the same time, passive sentences are needed. I'm using a free grammar check and every passive sentence is marked as an error.

    Maybe I'm cursed with a scientific background and have grown accustom to the bland structure. It's a struggle to find a balance. Any good ideas?

    Thanks
     

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