Grammar and Punctuation
Recently, while sending out my current work-in–progress (WIP) to the round of agents, I came across an agent’s blog that was downright scary. The spelling and punctuation were atrocious. She even violated a basic rule of using a plural verb form with a singular noun. It was quite annoying; after all, are we not told ad nauseum that a query full of punctuation and grammatical errors is sure to result in a rejection?
I passed on this agent feeling that if she could not even be bothered to proof read her own writing, then how could I be sure she’d go over my own manuscript with a fine-toothed comb? Also, I thought it was high time that I reviewed my own knowledge of punctuation and grammar rules.
There are two things in relation to grammar and punctuation that I am certain of:
1) “I” before “e” except after “c” (that is branded on my brain) and
2) I am pretty sure I was sick the day the teacher went over the whole lay/lie thing.
Like the new math that is part of the curriculum these days (isn’t 2 + 2 still 4?), there seems to be a slightly different approach to punctuation and grammar.
Semi-colons, a personal favorite of mine, are just about vilified among some writers and I noticed that they are shying away from calling a “period” a “period.” Now it is a “full stop.” My boys are learning it as a “full stop” in primary school and when I called it a “period” they looked at me like I had just grown a second head.
There is a joke circling the internet about how a comma (or lack of one) can be deadly:
“Let’s eat Grandma.
Let’s eat, Grandma.”
Twenty years ago when my sister and her then boyfriend used to fight (which was often), they would exchange notes. My sister and I would then go over his notes, correcting his grammar and circling his misspellings with a red pen, (I am sure he loved that) which reminds me of another quote I have seen floating around the internet:
“If you’re losing an argument, start correcting their grammar.”
Correct grammar and punctuation are essential for if your manuscript is riddled with misspellings and basic grammar mistakes, it will detract from even the greatest of stories.
To brush up on who/whom, of/have, between/among, than/then, who/that/which, and a lot of other good rules, check out GrammarBook.com. For rules on punctuation, I found Grammar.About.com really helpful.