Friday, 24 August 2012

How Much Does Good Grammar and Spelling Matter?

Writing is all about communication.  Grammar and spelling matter because they make communication easier.  When grammar and spelling are correct the reader reads exactly what you intended them to read. There are no ambiguities, no confusions.  The reader also reads without effort because they don't have to keep stopping to work out what the meaning might be and effortless reading makes reading a pleasure.

It could be argued that that's what editors are for, and it is - up to a point.  But publishing is being squeezed at the moment and there's less money to spend on editing.  If there is a choice between two manuscripts, one which will require lots of editing and one which won't, then they will choose the one that will be cheaper for them.

And you can't by-pass the issues of poor grammar and spelling by choosing to publish yourself. because readers can download sample chapters.  Would you choose to buy a book with lots of errors?  Even if the book was free, you'd be unlikely to want to spend your valuable time on it.

Good grammar and spelling matters, regardless of the quality of the story telling.


JO said...

If the grammar and spelling are fine - we don't notice them.

It's mistakes that are obvious - and can get in the way of a great story.

Diane Fordham said...

Well said Sarah. In this highly competitive field of writing we really do need to give ourselves the best possible chance in the first place. x

Penny said...

Proper presentation is very important, of course! I'd highlight good punctuation, too.

But I'd hate to think of anyone being put off writing because they think they're a bad speller, or they can't remember where the inverted commas should go. Just that it's vital to check that first draft afterwards!

Philip C James said...

Excellent points, Sarah.

Then again, why write if you cannot spell, or punctuate?

(Devil's Advocate Alert!)

Writing is just a means to an end, and the end is telling a story.

There is a group in Bath who meet to tell stories orally. The oral tradition of story telling is the original format, going back to the Ancient Greeks and Homer.

There is a metier for us all...

Sarah Duncan said...

All really good points. Phil, if the means of transmission interferes with the story (because it isn't invisible, as Jo points out) then it has to matter. Same as if you were telling stories with a very heavy cold.

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