Friday, January 15, 2010

Guest Speaker & Grammar & Writing

So, last night I was a guest speaker at a Creative Writing class at a local college. It was pretty cool to talk with the students about writing and my experience with being published for the first time and all of that cool stuff.

It was interesting to see their reactions when I talked about GRAMMAR!!! Ugh, of course, not an overwhelmingly fascinating topic, but a necessary one. One student asked if it was okay to skip/overlook/ignore grammatical errors (and/or punctuation and spelling), because the editors/proofreaders and others at the publishing house could/would catch them and fix them.

No. No. Nonono! And no!

First of all, you have to know the rules before you break them. Second of all, you want to send them the best product you can. Thirdly, you don't want to create extra or unnecessary work for them. Think of it this way: if you were a publisher would you want to take on a manuscript that needed little work or lots of work before it were ready to go to the printer?

As for the remark above re: rules and breaking them: Well, no, your book doesn't have to be 100% to-the-letter, grammatically perfect. Write a sentence fragment, if it is effective. End a sentence with a preposition, if it works. Let characters say things like "I ain't going nowheres" if it suits them. But... know what the rules are before you take creative liberties with them. It will result in a much better final product!

The Online Writing Lab at Purdue University is a very helpful grammar resource.


  1. Excellent point, I am trying to make up 20 years of ignorance in 1 years time. But I do agree, grammar is key in writing. Saying grammar is not important to writing is saying you can sail around the world in a car! Doesn’t equate, does it...

    making your point through words only makes sense if you organize the understanding of said words, ladies and gents that is grammar!!!
    One reads the way one thinks. If it is herky jerky then so will the reader read herky jerky. And does that sell? No… well maybe down south somewhere. But in the art of writing it is key to show your reader a world through words. That is the only way…

    Great topic. As you can see I have a long way to go, yet I do realize the importance of grammar and meaning through word.

  2. how very true, in my own life, it drives me nuts with "U" and "ur"

    Nuts I says. (ha ha)

    but no grammar is big, far "bigger" than spelling. Spelling is something that you can fix easily, with spell check and other methods grammar... well let's say not really.