Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bread And Butter.

Way back in the early 90s, while teaching English in Japan, I bought a couple of grammar books to help me along. I wasn't qualified to teach English (or anything else for that matter) and was unsure of a lot of the terminology.

One of the books I bought, Elements of Style (Strunk & White) continues to rear its head. Jack Dann in his workshop repeated "Strunk and White"  almost as often as "Show, don't tell." They were virtually mantras by the time we were done.

Since the 90s I have updated my edition of this book, and re-read it from time to time. I've also completed a couple of degrees in English and English Education, and ended up teaching conversation and grammar in Japan for around six years. I've also taught high school English for 8 years now.  I'm reasonably confident in my grammar, and I tend to write very clean copy.

I recently stumbled across a blog by a "writer" lamenting a lack of success and sales. Unfortunately his ramblings were almost undecipherable. Sentences were incomplete, punctuation was missing, words were misspelled. Whole sections of the post made absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Surprisingly, this writer claimed some publication credits. I didn't follow through on checking them out, and I'd never heard of any of the markets, so I'd question the status of said credits. Of course, I haven't read any of his stories either. Perhaps he's a brilliant ideas man, who has an amazing editor who pulls it all together.

I suspect not.

Strunk and White. Strunk and White. Strunk and White. Om Mani Padme Hum.

Grammar is a writer's bread and butter. It's the foundation, the basics. Typos and spelling mistakes can be forgiven, and that's what spellcheckers and beta-readers are for. But tense changes and no sentence structure? That's not on.

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