A Brief Dialogue on Grammar and Usage – Editorial

It’s been a while since I’ve done an Editorial post on The Founding Fields, I’ve noticed so i think I’ll take this opportunity to do so. Lately, i was asked a question about grammar over on Heresy-Online, and i think i did a fair job at answering the member’s questions.  Why not have a read for yourself and let me know your thoughts. btw, when he mentions our “Most Eccentric”, he means me…  Apparently i was voted by the members to be the “Most Eccentric” staff member of Heresy-Online. lol

so here’s the question that was asked of me (i’ll even link the thread: http://www.heresy-online.net/forums/showthread.php?p=896697&posted=1#post896697)

Originally Posted by Cambrius View Post
Okay, this might be an odd question, but it’s one I’ve been wanting to ask for a while. Access to editor types isn’t entirely common, so I’m taking advantage of the digital proximity of our Most Eccentric.

Commissar: How much does actual grammar come into play with creative writings in the publishing circles? For instance, I read the word “alright” in novels when every English class tells me it should be “all right”. Comma placement, paragraph breaks, sentence fragments… and so on.

The best answer I have been able to come up with thus far is that creative writings are art and therefore given more artistic leeway, but it would be great to have a more authoritative answer.

and my answer:
Grammar is actually quite important. Especially when you are talking amongst the publishing circles. When you write a piece of work, be it a story or a paper, you know full well what you’ve written down. Grammar, is what helps others to understand what you have written.

Example this paragraph is written as one sentence without any punctuation it is easy for me to read because i know what the paragraph is about and i can easily insert the necessary punctuation commas periods inflections into the paragraph within my own thinkspace head etc it does not make the paragraph easy for anyone else to read because they do not know where the stops and starts are as you can see for yourself

This paragraph however, does include the base punctuation necessary to understand the context. If i were to leave out the proper commas, periods and inflections you would never know how to read what I’ve written. Commas, as you’ve learned throughout years of English classes, are used in most cases to indicate natural pauses. Periods obviously indicate ends of sentence. Grammar, as presented in this paragraph, makes the whole of the text much more readable.

Now when it comes to how strictly editors/publishers look at grammar during the writing process… it’s a mixed bag. Although it’s safe to say that all editors would love for their writer’s works to be properly grammatical, it’s understood that not all writers are editors. If they were, there would be no need for a fresh pair of eye, and therefor editors would be out of a job. We couldn’t have that now, could we! I know that personally, i have a hell of a time editing my own manuscripts. Because I’m so used to how the story reads in my head, i sometimes (quite often actually) misread passages that I’ve read, subconsciously inserting words that aren’t there. Or actually missing duplicate words that shouldn’t be there, such as the classic “the the” issue. I provide my editors with job security by not writing a perfect manuscript, and they provide me job security by fixing my mistakes and making it sound a hell of a lot better than i ever could.

what it really boils down to is this; Write your story as if you were speaking it. Write it with all the natural inflections that we put into our everyday speech. It’s a narrative (usually) so, narrate!

now, your question on the topic of “alright” vs. “all right” comes down to specific dialects and “slang terminology” which are two separate dialogues in and of themselves. It’s alright to say all right. And it’s all right to say alright. It’s like asking someone to explain the difference between “specialize” and “specialise”. There isn’t any difference in definition. Simply the dialect of English. Where American English has a strong usage of the letter Z, the chiefly British dialects of English do not; substituting an S in its stead.

I hope this goes somewhere towards answering your question.


David Ploss

I’m a bit of an awesome person. :) I’m a semi-famous 40k Intellect and the Business Manager of Chique Geek Entertainment, LLC. www.chiquegeek.com. I’m a book reviewer and the owner of TheFoundingFields.com. Beware my wonky-ness…


The Founding Fields - Blogged