“Grammar is a piano I play by ear. All I know about grammar is its power.”
This is how many writer's feel about grammar. For many years, I felt the same way. I would edit and edit again, still wondered if it was better off the first way. Gone are the days when publishers will pick up books from writers who do not know the basics of grammar. There are more books published today than at any other time in history. Of course, there are more writers as well.
Why does grammar matter, you might wonder? First and foremost, your readers are why you write. Put aside the love and passion of your gift and craft for a moment. Take a look at reality here. Today, there are tons of niche books covering just about every topic you can imagine. In order to find an audience for your work and stay noticed, you need to shine above the pack.
In today's publishing world, as well as to become well known in the self-publishing world, you must raise the bar for yourself. The first place is an understanding of the basics of grammar for writers.
I love researching. Lately I've been on the hunt for a good, easy book or manual to help me bring my writing up a notch or two. I started getting back into grammar basics and as per usual these days, found a flood of information. So I dug through the tomes, and found a real gem of a writer who specializes in grammar for writers. And yes, that is different than grammar for high school or college papers.
Here is what June Casagrande author of It was the best of sentences, it was the worst of sentences has to say about grammar basics for writers:
"To know grammar, focus on the parts of speech and how phrases and clauses form sentences. All that stuff you've heard about how you supposedly can't use healthy to mean healthful and how it's supposedly wrong to say "Can I be excused?" in place of "May I be excused”"-– that's not grammar. That's usage (much of it pure lies)".
“Further, all that perplexing stuff like whether to write out numbers or use numerals and whether to put a comma before an and-—that's called style. One doesn't know usage or style. Like the most skilled editors, you must look these things up.”
I like how Casagrande clears things up quickly. She separates usage and style from grammar in a clear manner. Another reason I have chosen her as my main pick for grammar help, is her unique view of grammar for writers. Here is another quote from her wonderful book:
"Most grammar books today start with the parts of speech before moving on to phrases and clauses and then finally to sentence formation. Because we are most concerned with sentence formation, we'll reverse that order, looking first at sentence formation before moving on to phrase and clause structure and finally to the parts of speech, including how to form plurals of nouns and how to conjugate verbs."
This was an important switch for me. My writer's brain remembers more of these rules now, plus they make more sense. So instead of bemoaning the editing process, I'm learning more and more from this book, then applying it and going back to learn even more.
Jane Casagrande's: It was the best of sentences, it was the worst of sentences is my pick for a writer's best grammar friend.
Tell me what you think in my forum! I'd love to hear from you.
Enjoy your writing...
It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences: A Writer's Guide to Crafting Killer Sentences
As the editor of this topic, I research, read, and review a lot of books and products. Some of these books and products I purchase, while others I request review copies for. I bought this book for myself to learn from and then decided to review it.
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Bluedolphin Crow is the writer for BellaOnline's Nonfiction Writing Site. Why not circle her on Google+?