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Tips and help with grammar.

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by subzero22, Mar 4, 2020.

  1. subzero22

    subzero22 Acolyte

    I have a few stories I've written and well never published freely or otherwise. Although the stories are good (well in my opinion anyway) I've always been too afraid of what other's would think about them. Especially because my biggest flaws that I'm aware of which is mainly grammar and correct sentence structure.

    For one I like to use 'and' too often. I been doing better at it when possible. But my other problem's are like for example when it comes to there, their, and they're or even your and you're. I get them confused a lot but while in the heat of the moment when writing I will use one of them when another should be used without realizing it. Then when it comes time to check my spelling and correct any mistakes I forget to check and miss them to correct a lot of the time.

    I'm sure there's a lot of other stuff I need to work on as well. But I'm wondering if there's any tips, tricks or resources I can use to help me better my writing and other's that might have the same problems as me but want to write a story to be shown in a public setting.
  2. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    The best way to improve is to show your work to others and have them point out the flaws. Writers don't need thick skins, they need thick *shells*.

    There's nothing at all wrong with getting words wrong--spelling, grammar, all that. Because you will fix it. There are grammar checkers that will catch some of it. Even better is a beta reader who will catch more.

    Meanwhile, read read read. Take online writing classes or just do online exercises. Improvement usually follows after practice.
    Night Gardener likes this.
  3. Night Gardener

    Night Gardener Inkling

    I agee with skip.knoxskip.knox. It's all part of the process, and we all begin our writing journey on various points of the confidence and proficiency spectrum.

    IRL I went through years of very formal, very public critiques in my academic experiences. Six years or so of intense and rigorous scrutiny on every single piece I produced as a visual artist. The feedback from my teachers, fellow students and studio professors was invaluable.

    The difference is mentality: critiques are NOT negative so long as they are productive. That means they can also be destructive in order to be constructive. But, it is always an opportunity to analyze your works with new inputs and new data.

    Yes, it can feel like exposure and vulnerability. Because it is. But with those two feelings, you can reach inward to a better understanding of what you're trying to create and communicate. There shouldn't be an overwhelming dread or fear of "invalidation" of your work. And, if your one piece or chapter is dead on arrival and everybody hates, it does not invalidate the entirety of "you" to the point where you should stop trying generally speaking.

    Edison failed to engineer a working light bulb 1,000 times. He could have given up with each failure and felt discouraged, but decided instead with success on the 1,001st time that he found 1,000 ways of "how to not make a light bulb". You may have to rewrite things a 1,001 times to find what really works. Congratulations! You discovered 1,000 ways on how not to write your story!

    So, you have to work on your grammar and sentence structuring. Big deal. Practice, ask for and *receive* feedback. Analyze feedback (critiques) and keep practicing. Keep reading and writing. You need to be receptive to new data and new perspectives. The trick is striking the right balance where you don't lose your voice or vision. There is authenticity at stake, but without proper execution authenticity may get overlooked.

    You can pretty much always go back and make anything better (except stoneworks and ceramics, those are kinda a done deal without many revision options lol).

    I think people get all mixed up because of ego insecurity that *any* criticism always ends up being a negative or confidence-killing experience. It shouldn't be. And if someone offers criticism that feels like more of a personal attack than anything truly productive or intellectually (or technically) compelling... that tends to slide into the realms of condescention and unprofessionalism. That... you really can take with a grain of salt. Sometimes it's a philosophical or intellectual point of contention. Some people will strongly disagree with ideas you're trying to communicate. You'll have to decide what ground you want to stand on and just agree to disagree.

    You will find that there's points of critique that are eye-opening AF, but it forces a lot of things into perspective real quick: You cannot please everybody, because what is or is not appealing is not always rational, and it's colored by idiosyncratic personal experiences.

    If you want to build confidence, you'll just have to keep trying the hard way. Write, write badly, subject yourself to constructive scrutiny, rewrite, keep writing badly. Eventually your writing will improve by whatever measurements you're aiming for. At least you KNOW what feels off or needs improvement, grammar and sentence structuring. Identifying what feels like a roadblock is the first step to clearing it.

    Incidentally, I broke A LOT of proper grammatic rules writing this response and did so with impunity, a wanton and reckless abandon. Grammar-nazis, clutch your pearl necklaces in dismay! I've struck again!
    subzero22 likes this.
  4. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Archmage

    I agree with Skip. Sharing your writing with others will help. You can pay someone to go through it for you and do a line edit which fixes all the spelling and grammar issues (or rather just those they find). But it can get expensive fast, especially if you do it for every draft and have a lot of issues to fix.

    There's some grammar checkers you could try, like grammarly. Not sure how expensive they are or how good. But they should catch most of the most obvious errors.

    On tip you could try yourself is to use the track changes function in Word. Turn on track changes, then search for one of the words that you either use too much or use incorrectly often. Replace that word in all instances with the same word. You have now highlighted all instances of that word in your manuscript. Go through it and evaluate each one.

    As a side note, if you're working on a first draft, don't worry about it. This is why you have second drafts and reviews and corrections and so on.
    Night Gardener likes this.
  5. Kasper Hviid

    Kasper Hviid Sage

    I do that a lot too. Its strange, I know the difference, but for some reason, a similar-sounding word just slips in, like at the beginning of this sentence.
  6. subzero22

    subzero22 Acolyte

    Thanks everyone for replying and it helps a lot.

    I added grammarly to my browser as it does look like it can help me a lot even if all I am able to use at this point is the free version of it.

    I'm not sure what you mean by this? Do you mean like the way a character might talk to give them life or some kind of writing style or something else? As for the rest of your post. I can't tell you how much it helped me to read your reply. I know I'm not the only one that feels the way I do but your advice and what you said really helped a lot. I wish I could say I'm over my fear and anxiety but it did help a lot enough for me to take that first step.
    Night Gardener likes this.
  7. Night Gardener

    Night Gardener Inkling

    By authenticity, I mean both your voice/vision as an author overall, and for individual characters. Could you imagine Mark Twain's characters being re-written to follow proper and perfectly executed, technically correct grammar and sentence structure? It just would not be the same stories.
    As long as a story is comprehensible, there is some wiggle room for individuality and technical execution choices.

    And, I'm glad that I was able to help with advice and experiences that resonates for you. Doubt is a veiled opportunity, the fear will fade away... Eventually. Think your way through ( and out of ) your doubts, don't let them weigh you down. Getting your ideas down in some sort of first draft is the most important thing, and it Does. Not. Need. To. Be. Perfect. Intelligible, sure. Write in whatever way makes sense to you to get it out of your head.

    Also, when you do get to the technical aspects of grammar, editing, structuring sentences, etc. READ ALOUD. It engages more of your brain and makes comprehension and "problem areas" easier to recognize.

    It's a journey, and you'll find your sure footing and the best paths the farther you go.
    subzero22 likes this.
  8. Firefly

    Firefly Troubadour

    If you know what your problems are, and are just having problems catching it while writing/remembering to fix it, It might help you to make some sort of checklist with all the mistakes you frequently make and just use that every time you revise. Eventually, you’ll get to a point where the rules are pretty ingrained and you’ll write it correctly the first time around. I used to have to think so hard about dialogue and where to indent and whether or not I needed to start a new sentence etc every time I sat down to write but I’ve gotten to the point where I barely even have to think about it any more. Grammar rules are nice like that: once you’ve internalized them, they require almost no extra energy or thought to follow.

    Of course, you never stop making mistakes entirely, so it’s good to have beta readers/software like grammarly to pick up the things that slip through the cracks, but it’s good to understand the rules yourself.
    Night Gardener likes this.
  9. S J Lee

    S J Lee Inkling

    Practise, show, receive correction, learn. Put something up in the Critique forum and ask for GRAMMAR corrections primarily. We won't be cruel!
  10. ryanzdawson

    ryanzdawson Dreamer

    Here is one tiny tip:
    Don't use apostrophes to create plurals.
    You use "other's" and "problem's" in your original post. You need instead "others" and "problems."
    The great thing about this rule is that it's unambiguous and regular. You'll never find yourself wondering if you need an apostrophe for a particular plural word, because the answer is always no.

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