Tag Archives: grammar

What’s the Matter With Grammar? – Part II

English grammarIn my blog post  What’s the Matter with Grammar? Part I, I established that grammar is one of my tools as a novelist.  I went on to state that it’s my passion for my craft that leads me to strive for excellence in novel writing – and that includes knowledge of the good use of the English language.

Communicate Clearly

One of the highest goals of a writer is to communicate.  In order to communicate clearly, one must be understood.  Correct punctuation, spelling, and grammar work to keep meaning clear.

Solve the Puzzle

Let’s use this set of words as an example.  (If you’ve seen this little word puzzle you already know the answer.  For others it will not be so easy.)

that that is is that that is not is not is not that it it is

As it stands, it makes very little sense.  Something is lacking.  That something is correct punctuation.

How about this:

That that is, is.  That that is not, is not.  Is not that it? It is.

Ah! Now we are communicating.

The “Mechanical” Aspects

It appears to me – in all my years of teaching, editing, and working with writers at all levels – it’s the mechanical aspects of grammar that make most writers cringe and recoil.  They just want to do the creative stuff!

Grammar-Check a Joke?Be A Novelist

If you’ve chosen to lean back and rest in the fickle arms of grammar-check (or some form of it) my only response is that you have my heart-felt sympathy.  I have often joked that those who designed grammar-check for Windows must have English as a fourth language.

I would venture to guess that grammar-check helps me about 15% to 20% of the time, if that.  Outside of that, it’s good for grins and giggles.  Some of the suggestions that come forth, just make me laugh – right out loud.

Not a Good Editor 

Grammar-check reminds me of a ghostwriting gig I had several years ago.  The client had already commissioned his book to a small publishing company.  This meant after I finished his book, and after he approved it, the manuscript was sent to this small press.  When the galleys came back to me for one final edit, I nearly fainted.  The so-called editor had actually introduced grammatical errors (structural errors too) where none existed prior.  It was a total disaster!

This in no way is meant to be disparaging to editors – every writer on the planet (everyone who wants to excel, that is) loves a good editor.  This was not a good editor!

The Professional’s Need-to-Know

The point is, you cannot – and indeed you should not – rely on either spell-check or grammar-check.  Leave that for the novices.  You want to be a professional!  Right?

Take time to understand your own relationship with grammar.  If your view is that it’s all mechanical and arbitrary, this says you have yet to come into a full appreciation of the tools of your profession.

Correct grammar usage and correct spelling and punctuation is organic, not arbitraryInterpreted that means it is belongs to and is an integral part of the written language.


Be A Novelist

Just Do It

If grammar truly is a problem for you, stop thinking it doesn’t matter.  It does matter.  Take refresher courses at a local community college – or online. Find good reference books and keep them at your fingertips. (Or on your desktop.)  Then use them!

Whatever it takes – do it!  Do what it takes to hone this particular writing tool, and then Be A Novelistwork every day to improve your skills.

Only then will you truly be on your way to becoming a novelist!


Clean Teen ReadsBe A NovelistTired of the struggle writing your book? Need a helping hand? Norma Jean’s Coaching Services may be the answer you’re looking for. Fill out the questionnaire on the page and let’s see if we’re a right fit. A FREE consultation gets the ball rolling. (Or the pen writing!) Click HERE!

Clean Teen Reads

What’s the Matter With Grammar? – Part I

Be A NovelistIn this era of tweets, texts, and Facebook posts where words are shortened, punctuation omitted, apostrophes ignored, and sentence structure pretty much butchered and hung out to dry, one may ask – in all good conscience – does grammar still matter for the serious novelist?

I’m sure you will get different answers from different novelists, from different writing instructors, from different editors, and even from different readers.

Some will say that everything is changing so drastically that good use of the English language is no longer at the top of the list of skills that a novelist must hone.  They go so far as to say that people are becoming so accustomed to the bad use of grammar, that good grammar isn’t as useful as it once was.

I will dare to weigh in on this subject, knowing that my opinion is just that – one opinion in the midst of thousands.  But that’s what a blog is for, right?

The Tools of Professionals

Any professional of any business, or art form, has their “tools of the trade.”

  • A ballerina knows the tiniest and most intricate move that must be made for every dance she performs.  And her toe shoes must be fitted and tied just so.
  • A trained surgeon knows every surgical tool and knows precisely how each is to be used.
  • A chemist is intimately familiar with various chemicals and how each is to be integrated and used.
  • A mountain climber’s very life is dependent on each piece of equipment.  The professional climber not only knows the equipment, but how each piece is to be used, and how it is to be packed correctly.

My ToolsBe A Novelist

The tools of my trade are words and the written language.  My desire to use my tools correctly is not dependent upon how many people leave apostrophes out of their Tweets.  My desire to use my tools correctly is totally dependent upon my passion for my calling.

My passion for writing compelling novels drives me to excel in every area of my craft, and that includes grammar.   That passion compels me to strive for excellence.  That passion spurs me on to continually self-educate in the areas of spelling and grammar.

To take one part out of the entire panorama of the novel-writing process – i.e. grammar – and attempt to decide whether or not it is of importance, is like taking one tool from the mountain climber’s pack and trying to decide whether or not it is of importance.  Or selecting one of the surgeon’s tools and doing the same.

It’s a rather ridiculous way to look at the entire scheme of novel writing.

You Decide

So – is grammar important?question mark

  • Only if you have a deep, heartfelt passion to become an excellent novelist.
  • Only if you want your writing to be clear and easily understood.
  • Only if you want your scenes and characters to spring to life on the pages.
  • Only if you truly respect your readers and want to present to them your very best.
  • Only if you want to build a following of adoring fans who cannot wait for your next book to come out.

If you can honestly say that none of the above fit you – you don’t want any of them – then I have to question if you want to be a novelist at all

Only you know your own heart.  Only you can decide!

(Don’t miss Part II of What’s the Matter With Grammar?)

Clean Teen ReadsBe A NovelistTired of the struggle writing your book? Need a helping hand? Norma Jean’s Coaching Services may be the answer you’re looking for. Fill out the questionnaire on the page and let’s see if we’re a right fit. A FREE consultation gets the ball rolling. (Or the pen writing!) Click HERE!

Clean Teen Reads