Re: RE: What would you like to learn about writing?

Home Forums Writer’s Digest Forum Tips and Advice What would you like to learn about writing? Re: RE: What would you like to learn about writing?


Mikala Engel

tdkerst – 2008-11-07 5:06 PM I think maia’s right on target. Teaching the importance of learning standard English grammar is vital, but it involves helping students to know where and how to find correct forms. Editing concerns shouldn’t come until later in the process, though, after they’ve captured their ideas. Focusing on grammar/sentence style too soon can shut down the creative flow of ideas like nothing else. Grammar counts, but teach them to keep it in its place–during the editing phase. Teaching them how to use a good grammar resource (text/online site) will help them immensely as they learn to edit their own work. One of the most important “lessons” I ever learned from a mentor is that there is always someone somewhere who will publish what we write–as long as we take the care to craft it as best we can and to find the right market/timing. Foir example, I’m working on a piece about veterans, but it’s obviously too late for this Veteran’s Day. So I need to send it out in the spring for publication in November 2009.

This is really a pet peeve of mine.  Grammar and punctuation can’t wait until the editing phase.  By then, once all the mistakes have been made, it’s usually too late because the storytelling already suffers from lack of knowledge.
If a writer knows grammar and punctuation, it isn’t something he has to focus on or think about for a second.  It comes out naturally in the writing.  If the writer doesn’t have a firm grasp of grammar, his storytelling skills are greatly hampered right from the start, and fixing bad grammar after the fact will not fix the story.
This is why the success rate of hired fiction editors is even lower than using no editor at all.  Fixing grammar after the fact does not improve a story that was poorly written because the writer lacked grammar skills.
If you want to be a writer, a successful writer, you must learn grammar and punctuation first, and then use it to write fiction.  The writer should never have to think abut grammar and punctuation. He should know both so well that they simply emerge with each sentence written.