1. acemanhattan
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    acemanhattan New Member

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    Hello Community! I need your help with words!

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by acemanhattan, Dec 10, 2012.

    I have the desire to become a good (not remarkably good) writer and decided I'd join this forum to make it happen.

    A little of my back story: 30 years old, finishing up my second year of college after having dropped out of high school when I was 17. I never was much of a "student" but was certainly no dunce either. I find that, as I turn in papers, they are suffering, not from lack of intelligent content, but from a lack of strong grammatical foundation. I enjoy writing but I am also obsessive enough to be limited in my ability to enjoy writing as much as I could because I agonize over how to construct a good sentence or punctuate correctly.

    I guess I am interested in hearing where I might focus my efforts as I begin this journey. Your help would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. GazingAbyss
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    GazingAbyss Member

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    There are definitely some books on this that other members of the community could recommend, but I don't know them that well. Not knowing your actual writing style, the best general advice I can give is to read your work out loud. If the grammar's not right, it won't read well, and you'll find yourself stumbling over words.

    Also keep in mind that, depending on what you're writing, the grammar doesn't necessarily need to be immaculate. Sometimes you want some imperfections as a stylistic choice. My advice above still applies in that case, while a guide may not.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...have you taken time to compare what you write to the work of the best modern writers?... if so, how great is the difference?

    ...if it's wide, then you might want to consider investing in a good writing basics or remedial english grammar course...

    ...if it's not as bad as you thought, then constant reading of the best writings should help you to improve by osmosis...

    ...i mentor many aspiring writers who need to upgrade their skills, so if you want an assessment by a neutral party, you can send me a few pages of whatever you think is your best work and i'll give you detailed feedback on what you need to improve and why... and/or you can post a brief excerpt here, for peer review, once you've fulfilled the site requirements...

    ...and, if all else fails, i always have time for another mentee/tutee...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  4. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your posting shows no signs of a "lack of strong grammatical foundation", so even if you don't know the difference between subordinated and coordinated clauses (or whatever) it's not having too bad an effect on your writing.

    You refer to "papers", so I'm guessing you are writing in an academic context. I wonder whether the problems you are having are not so much grammatical as stylistic? Getting the right voice, perhaps? Hedging the right things the right amount? Structuring your arguments? Has a tutor told you specifically that you have grammar problems?
     
  5. Em_Anders
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    Em_Anders Member

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    I agree and thought the same Digitig.

    If there's no true issue with grammar or vocabulary, then it is possibly a problem with establishing a style of finding a 'voice'.
    For academic papers, essays in particular, I have a difficult time keeping the same structure and style my professor enjoys in my free writing and creative projects because I tend to over think the essay prompt(s). So if you already have an established 'voice' or style, or favored technique to writing, then it is also a possibility you're over thinking your papers and therefore botching what would be a great paper if you'd only stepped back from it for a moment or two.
     
  6. acemanhattan
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    acemanhattan New Member

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    Thanks for the responses all.

    I think the best way to describe my writing is "clunky" and/or "verbose". Perhaps, as a few of you have mentioned, it isn't an issue of grammar as much as it is simply general technical stuff (commas, dashes, semi-colons). Also I find that my syntax seems a bit cumbersome at times too, likely because I am able to express much deeper thoughts in writing than I am in speech, so "writing like I speak" isn't really something that applies. Essentially I think I probably don't have that much writing experience and, as with everything else, it doesn't quite feel natural yet.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sounds like you need to do more reading of good writing...
     
  8. acemanhattan
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    acemanhattan New Member

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    Agreed. I've never been much of a reader and have decided that I am going to become one. In the last 6 weeks I've read Anna Karenina, Slaughterhouse-Five, Midnight's Children, and Crime and Punishment though, so I'm sure I've absorbed something.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    a good mix!... keep up the good work of reading good works... hugs, m
     

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