April 8, 2013

Gratifying vs Grating Grammar = G: Blogging from A to Z

I'm a self-confessed grammar geek, so I couldn't pass up the opportunity to highlight proper grammar as a literary device.  

Wallet Grammar
Even great story cannot overcome obvious grammar sins, at least for me. Matter of fact, I'm even more disgusted when a great story is ruined by lack of editing and bad grammar than a bad story. A bad story was going to be a bad story regardless. A great story is wasted when poor grammar is rampant.

Authors can break rules for the sake of style occasionally, think fragments or ending a sentence with a preposition, but it should be consistent and not cause undue stress on the reader. 

Stress on the reader? Yes, anything that pulls the reader out of the story causes stress. Too much reading stress and the reader disconnects. Or at least this reader does.

But, even writers who fancy themselves grammar geeks need editors. It's easy to get in the zone, fingers flying across the keyboard, and accidentally put its instead of it's. Spell checkers can't help you, because both words are spelled correctly.

In past posts, I've not only pointed out my Top 10 Writing Pet Peeves (e.g., irregardless, lose/loose, they're/their/there) but also 5 Writing "Mistakes" I Like (e.g., sentence fragments, occasional adverbs).

“Ill-fitting grammar are like ill-fitting shoes. You can get used to it for a bit, but then one day your toes fall off and you can't walk to the bathroom.” 

What's your grammar pet peeve? Will it kill a great story for you?

Grammar should be gratifying, never grating. (Again, alliteration abounds in A to Z.) Note: I read and re-read this post more than any other for this month. Can't have mistakes in a post about grammar mistakes. Eek!

Don't forget to check out other A to Z participants here.


Elise Fallson said...

Well, you already know how I am with grammar. (; If I'm reading a great story, little hiccups in grammar will not pull me out of the book, heck I may not even notice, lol. But if the story is average, then I'll start to notice the little things and it does take away from the reading experience. One of my pet peeves is when an author over uses exclamation points. They throw me because exclamation points make me yell out the words in my head and it's really distracting when it's not warranted.

John Wiswell said...

I strongly agree with you about editors. A writer can be mistaken about a grammar rule, but even if he/she has it all down, it's impossible to catch all of your own mistakes. Peer reviewing helps us all create tidier, tighter work.

from John at The Bathroom Monologues

Barbara White Daille said...

Similar to your Top 10 list, my pet peeves are probably misused words - lightening for lightning, etc.

Like sentence fragments, also.

Am trying to be more careful about exclamation points.

@Tia and @ Elise - how do you feel about them in blogs? I tend to use ! more there (and in casual e-mail) than I do in my writing--thank goodness!

On the grammar issues, I'll sometimes see writers make the same errors so often, the incorrect versions begin to sound right to me. Time for a good grammar review.

Nancy Thompson said...

Yes, I'm a grammar Nazi, but it serves me well as professional editor. Still, as an author, I require outside help, even if my work is clean. As an editor, the most rampant mistake I see is misuse of the comma. Actually, most writers don't seem to have a clue where to place them. Drives me NUTS!!

Stephsco said...

In published works, I'm more annoyed with overused phrases or lazy word choices when the writer could do better. Good writing is writing that you don't notice because the story has captured you that much. Tough to do, but those are the writers I will read again.

As for everyday grammar, apostrophe misuse.

Carrie-Anne said...

I cringe at writers who don't know the difference between your and you're, their, there, and they're, whose and who's, where, were, and we're, its and it's, and then and than.

I also object to the term "grammar Nazi" to describe people who insist on correct grammar. It galls me that the word Nazi has now become so casually thrown about, as though people have forgotten what Nazis actually are.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I can't seem to be able to shut up my inner editor, so yep, I'm constantly see grammar errors everywhere.

Jo Michaels said...

Pronouns are my pet peeve. BTW, you missed an a in the first sentence. You're right, too many errors and I find myself going BONKERS trying to read the book. If it's really bad, I end up putting it down. I read this one book where the word as was used in place of and, because, and when. Every dang time. After a time, even when the word appeared where it was supposed to, I wanted to chuck my iPad across the room. I didn't finish that book. :) Everyone, and I do mean everyone, needs an editor. WRITE ON!

Tia Bach said...

Elise - *winks* I agree about !!! It's like the boy who cried wolf.

John - Self-editing is a bad idea. I tell that to my 2nd, 5th and 7th grade daughters. They've come to embrace my red pencil. ;-)

Barbara - Blogs give you a little more room to breath on !! but you still might lose your effectiveness if you use too many. Again, the boy who cried wolf.

Nancy - I find that either people hate commas (don't use them) or love them (overuse them).

Steph - I agree. Lazy writing is sad, because just a few additions/changes (again, ones a good editor would suggest) could make SUCH a difference.

Carrie-Anne - I admit I used to use that term, but it didn't sit well with me, either. Grammar Geek works better. But maybe it's the alliteration-lover in me. :-)

Lynda - I constantly correct my girls over X and me versus X and I. Now, they'll usually catch themselves.

Jo - 3rd person is the hardest writing I've ever done. 1st person is so much easier. You have taught me SO much about 3rd person. *bows*

Barbara White Daille said...

Tia - that's very true!! I'll use up a few here and try to watch it elsewhere!! ;)


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