Saturday, May 4, 2013

Bad Grammar

It's been in the headlines. Many teachers may not have been taught grammar at school, having been educated in the 1970s and 1980s. Ian McNeilly, director of the National Association for the Teaching of English, said: ‘The focus and emphasis on grammar in primary schools will mean that potentially a whole generation of teachers will need some quite intensive training.

It's true. I've never had a formal lesson on grammar in my life, and it does make things difficult. I believe one reason why people don't write is the fear of poor grammar. The red pen marks pointing out dangling participles and passive sentences strikes enough fear into anyone's heart. It is especially difficult if people expect you to have this knowledge.

I like making up stories. People tell me I'm good at it. I need grammar to make sure that I am able to tell my stories effectively and with the tone, pace, mood, and atmosphere that I want to produce in my readers. Basically, I need grammar to make sure others understand my writing.

I know so many people who tell me their ideas for stories and novels but never get round to writing their stories down. I've always comforted myself with the fact that I can put my work into software programmes that look for mistakes. I can ask people to read my work. I can even pay a proof reader to read my work. What can you do with a blank page?

I started a short story for a competition. It was a difficult subject, and I frequently left it and came back. It took so many sessions to be completed that I began to hate it. Unfortunately, I find it hard to quit, and I was determined to enter.

Writing is enjoyable. But the ordeal of editing and grammar checks is a nightmare.

Here is the rub. In order to become a better writer I need to write more AND, edit what I have written. There is no way around it.

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