Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Grammar Gap

This post is about what your word processor can do for you, and what you can be doing to make it work for you. Whether you write with Word or special writing software that can help you organize (there are many good ones but that is another post), two of the most important basic tools are spelling and grammar check. Sometimes these are options we don't use when we write something simple, but they could make the difference between the editor who finds your query letter well written and insightful, or puts it into the circular file because of simple corrections that could have been made easily.

As writers our writing is on constant display in emails, queries, synopsis, blog posts and comments, and on any site we write for. We always want to make a good impression since we are never aware who may be reading that particular day. The solution starts with doing everything we can to be certain what we let others see is the best we can produce. It is our signature, and we have to guard it's reputation closely.

Small mistakes can add up, and they are often easy to miss. Another help I've found is an online dictionary and thesaurus to keep our vocabularies strong and varied. Sometimes that thesaurus will be your best friend. By broadening your word usage, you make your writing more interesting and enjoyable. Words texture our writing the way a fine fabric brings texture to a dress, they make it more beautiful to the eye.

The final step, after you have used spelling and grammar check and found the best ways to express your thoughts, is to proof read very carefully. Nothing on the computer can be as exacting as you are about your writing. Often having a second set of eyes can be helpful, whether it's a family member or a critique partner. Always do your own steps before you give your writing to these helpers. When a critique partner gets bogged down in your small errors, it is hard for them to give adequate feedback, and it's discouraging and time consuming. We all make mistakes, but it is our job to minimize them and improve our writing any way we can.

If you feel you have problems, I have seen many online resources for grammar, and there are often workshops sponsored by RWA chapters that deal with these issues. I can recommend one given by Rhonda Stapleton, who is a fellow member at Romance Divas. This online workshop is simple, well organized, and done in an encouraging and uplifting way that makes you feel empowered as a writer. The more empowered we are, the better our writing will be. It's almost as good as the Diner's pie! Now we are one step closer to the magic words "We are going to publish your story!"

Always the Best!
Debralee

2 comments:

  1. AW, that is so nice of you...THANK YOU! *sniff*

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  2. I've seen writers express sentiments to the effect that grammar and mechanics are things for EDITORS to fix and the only important thing is the ability to tell a good story. Those people are typically unpublished :).

    Jody W.

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