1. Emmy
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    Emmy Member

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    Possibly the stupidest question ever...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Emmy, Apr 23, 2009.

    Ok. Against self-preservation gnawling at me, I'm actually going to post this question:

    What if you are worried about your own basic skills in grammar?

    Don't laugh - hear me out.

    I come from a part of the country that doesn't speak very intelligently, as a whole. I love to read, and I understand vocabulary quite well. I speak normally and rarely feel like my speaking grammar is incorrect. But I know I write with the ghosts of my upbringing inside of my head, and I know there is improper grammar on some fronts.

    I'm writing my first draft passionately and with feeling; I want to edit my next draft(s) with intelligence.

    I'm worried that when I go to edit my first draft, I'll miss a lot of those grammar errors. I don't want my novel to be rejected because some editor is sitting there, reading my book and thinking, "Has this person not completed grammar beyond the fourth grade?"

    What tools are there, other than cracking a grammar book, to finely edit a manuscript for grammatical errors? I realize that my writing style differs from honest to goodness errors. And if I have to rob a fourth grader of his or her english book, I will. But if there are some simpler, more effective ways (like a dummies guide to grammar) of finding grammatical errors, I'd appreciate the heads up.
     
  2. Okie
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    Okie Member

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    While robbing fourth-graders of their text books holds a certain charm, I would recommend having someone you trust read your writing. It's amazing what another set of eyes can find.
     
  3. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    Purdue Online Writing Lab

    http://owl.english.purdue.edu/

    Breaks things down nicely, without being a cure for insomnia.
     
  4. xxtake_controlxx
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    xxtake_controlxx Member

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    I agree with that. I mean, there are very effective grammar books that you can use if you need help. I know Eats Shoots and Leaves is a good grammar book if you want to go out and buy one. But another good way to go about it is to give it to someone else to proof for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. If you want to get it proofed relatively soon, I'd give it to someone else. For the long run, though, I'd find some good grammar books to read, because if you really want to do well in writing, you're going to need to understand it all eventually.

    I'm willing to help you, if you want. *Shrugs*
     
  5. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    One of the best grammar books out there is White and Strunk's (I think that's his name) Elements of Style. While reading a grammar book may not be your preferred method, it's something all writers should do. Studying grammar is a *must* for any serious writer, and the only way to study it is to read reputable books written on grammar. I recommend Elements of Style because it's what most colleges recommend for students to use for any/all types of writing.

    Aside from studying grammar more in-depth yourself, you should consider giving the piece to someone else to look over. It has to be someone you trust to be honest and obviously they have to know what they're doing.

    Other than that, I can't really think of much else that could help you.

    And if your post is any indication of your writing skills, then I don't think you need to be quite so worried about your grammar skills. The sentences seem to be put together fairly well.

    ~Lynn
     
  6. Tall and Weird
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    Tall and Weird New Member

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    It's not a stupid question by any measure.

    Grammar is tricky - I mean what the heck makes a contextual passive sentence so bad? - and getting it right is even trickier.

    The way I deal with it is to read out the sentence or paragraph and change it if it sounds wrong. Which I know is possibly a suggestion that offers less than you were looking for but I reckon that if it sounds fine there can't be too much wrong with it.
     
  7. Cheeno
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    Cheeno Contributing Member

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    Buy a style bible and practice until you're confident you're where you want to be. Too many aspiring writers want to be 'there' before they've learnt the rudimentaries, taking little consideration of the time entailed in learning the craft. Study and enhance your awareness, and then take yourself forward. Have confidence in yourself, too. Being negative, as opposed to being realistic, does nothing to ease your way into the creative world of imaginative writing. Good luck with your work.
     
  8. DvnMrtn
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    DvnMrtn Contributing Member

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    Nothing helps more than reading. The more you read the more you unconsciously pick up authors style. You'll find that a lot of people who read only one or two authors will pick up their style. Try to read more if your concerned. While you're reading take note of their grammar and think "okay if this were my sentence how would I have written it?"
     
  9. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I'm going to back this up, and also add write too, not only has my own spelling, but my overall grammar has improved due to both reading and writing. When you edit your work say it out aloud and see how well it flows, how it fits, if it sounds right, if that comma or semicolon needs to be in there or does it just put a needless pause in.

    All of these things can be improved with both research (reading) and practice (writing) grammar.
     
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  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    .

    if by 'tools' you mean some program that'll do it for you, then the answer is, 'none'...

    no grammar-check software [or book] is going to do a good enough job... it takes a human mind in a human body to do that, because in creative writing, one often bends a rule here and there, for effect... and a program won't be judging its reading quality, can only go by the 'rules'... and a book can only set out those rules, can't tell you when it's ok to bend or break 'em, because that can only be determined on a case by case basis, by an experienced, discerning, knowledgeable reader/editor...

    so, the bottom line is, if you really think your writing may have some problems that can affect its chances of being published and you can't find and fix them on your own, then you'll have to hire a good editor to do it for you... and they don't come cheap... and it doesn't make economic sense to do that, since you've so little chance of making any money on a piece of work, anyway...

    which leaves only learning how to do it yourself... and, if you're serious about wanting to be a writer, that's what you need to do, isn't it?...

    all that aside, if you want to find out if any help is really needed, you can send me the first couple of pages of your work and i'll let you know one way or the other, with detailed examples and suggestions on how to learn how to do that yourself... btw, it's what i do for aspiring writers all day, every day... for free...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    meanwhile, check out the sites i listed with links over at the spag section... it's a sticky and includes all of the basics... http://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?t=21049
     

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