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How to get better at grammar? : Tips and Advice • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

How to get better at grammar?

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Shimmitar
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How to get better at grammar?

Postby Shimmitar » Fri Aug 19, 2016 2:30 pm

Ok, so i just finished my epic fantasy/ steampunk book. The only problem is, now i have to go back and fix all the grammar issues. Unfortunately, i'm pretty bad at grammar. So my question is, what can i do to get better at grammar. Some say to just read (which i do) but it doesn't really help me, as i'm too busy paying attention to the story, rather than to how it is written. Any suggestions would be helpful.

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pls
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Re: How to get better at grammar?

Postby pls » Fri Aug 19, 2016 3:48 pm

Reading does help you - but you have to read hundreds of books, not just a few. If you need a reference, any eighth-grade writing-and-grammar book will do.
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James A. Ritchie
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Re: How to get better at grammar?

Postby James A. Ritchie » Fri Aug 19, 2016 11:45 pm

The get better at grammar the same way you get better at anything, you study grammar. Get an eighth grade grammar book, a teacher's edition, plant your butt for an hour or two each day, and study grammar. There are no secrets, no shortcuts, there's only sitting down and studying until you learn what you need to know.

Spinners
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Re: How to get better at grammar?

Postby Spinners » Sun Aug 21, 2016 3:34 am

Unfortunately, there is one other thing to consider. Good writing is a mix of grammar (an inexact science) and style (an art). A grammar book will teach the rules. But, the rules are pliable. Consider books on grammar AND style for strong examples.

Once you have a solid handle on grammar, examine a few short stories in an anthology within your genre. First, notice the mix of sentences - simple, compound, and complex. Next, notice the dependent clauses and where they reside in different sentences. Notice how the author uses a combination of sentence structures to keep the writing fresh. Take a sentence from the story and re-write that sentence using different sentence structures. Notice how this changes the pace...recognizing commas are pauses.

Now, look at your own writing more critically. Read a section of your writing out loud. Can you re-arrange sentences to make the reading more palatable? Can you re-write a lengthy sentence chock full of small words (which may now sound clunky to you) with fewer words. Exercises like these will help you develop your own style. Writing is an art because there is no silver bullet to good writing. But, some techniques are stronger than others. Know the grammar rules, but notice how published authors will bend them, sparingly. I hope this grants you a broader perspective. And, above all, keep writing in a style that suits you...and ignore that inner voice of doubt that mocks every writer.

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u.v.ray
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Re: How to get better at grammar?

Postby u.v.ray » Mon Aug 22, 2016 3:29 pm

And of course, once you have learned it...Then you have to unlearn it.

I don't consider Jack Kerouac to be one of my favourite writers. Personally, I find his prose too wordy and rambling. However, I always cite his On the Road as having a significant influence on me. It had a major impact upon me. And I'll tell you why:

He taught me that if you don't like the look of a comma, don't put it in. He taught me phonetics over virtuosity. He taught me you don't have to do things the way they told you to do it in school.

But as has already been said in this thread; there are no short cuts. It's no good employing a professional editor to formally edit our work,either. We're not writing corporate documents, devoid of all artistry and feeling.

Learn, learn... and then unlearn.
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shadowwalker
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Re: How to get better at grammar?

Postby shadowwalker » Mon Aug 22, 2016 10:32 pm

The thing about grammar is that you have to learn it well enough to know when to break the rules - and not break the rules out of ignorance. So yeah - a junior or high school grammar book will teach you the rules; reading fiction will help you command those rules.
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pls
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Re: How to get better at grammar?

Postby pls » Tue Aug 23, 2016 9:21 am

Well, it's my contention that a grammar book can codify the reasons why certain things are stated the way they are, and provide a guide for proper usage, but the only way to experience fully how words and sentences and punctuation are put together is to experience them first hand and over and over again - by reading extensively so the usage patterns are firmly planted in your brain BEFORE you try to write anything significant. As a self-proclaimed grammar Nazi who restrains himself from commenting every time a new user posts some atrocity, I'm appalled to read some of the things that make their way into these forums. And I don't mean expressions like "doe snot", which result when James fails to copyread his posts.
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shadowwalker
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Re: How to get better at grammar?

Postby shadowwalker » Tue Aug 23, 2016 10:00 am

"It seems rather like wanting to be ... a writer, rather than wanting to write. It should be a by-product, not a thing in itself. Otherwise, it's just an ego trip." - Roger Zelazny

It's really not that hard. Just tell me a story.

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pls
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Re: How to get better at grammar?

Postby pls » Tue Aug 23, 2016 10:05 am

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Re: How to get better at grammar?

Postby williamadams » Tue Aug 23, 2016 12:48 pm


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