Grammer, Spelling & Editing
Guess what? Grammar counts. so does spelling.
You don’t believe me why not? How many mistakes have you seen so far?
One, two, three or more?
If your answer was not four, you need an editor.
Why does grammar count? Yo Ho is two thirds of a phrase from a eighteenth century pirate movie and is not grammatically correct. It is modern slang but, send it to a publisher and don’t hold your breath waiting for anything other than a rejection letter.
While we are at it what we speak in the US is not English. Get to you favorite book seller and you will notice that Oxford puts out an English and an American dictionary. Both are worth the price but for US writers I recommend the American version. If not that then any dictionary that is not older than five years. It is advice I was given and it has served me well.
It would have prevented the spelling error that was in the title. I hope you caught that one.
As to grammar, try the Chicago Manual of Style. I have been told by quite a few editors that it is the one they use. If they swear by it, then so should you as a writer.
The manual would have allowed you to catch the error of “seen” instead of caught. The punctuation error, a missing comma between me and why would also have been apparent. How about the capitalization error? It was by far the most obvious. Did you catch it?
If the first few lines of your manuscript contain that many errors, most editors will not go any further.
Why not you ask. You say it is their job. Well you are both right and wrong.
While editing my be their job, they are not interested in someone who is going to make it harder on them. Would you want your job made more difficult? I know I wouldn’t.
Get your MS into the best shape you can, before you send it to your editor. That means read it, and edit it yourself. Then read it again. But read it from the point of view of the reader, not as the writer.
Yes, I made many of these mistakes and I still make some of them. I do make a lot less than I used to.
We all make typos. Another reason to read your work. The spell checker on your computer will not know the difference between find and fins. Both are spelled correctly and yet could easily be interchanged by an error. If you ask a marine biologist, how many find are on most fish?
The answer may not be the one you wanted. Read from the readers seat and you will catch these errors. This is just the advice of a guy who has made the errors and has the rejection letters to show for them. I hope you can avoid those letters for the reasons we have covered here. Of course the rejection letter itself will be for the next piece of this series, because we all get them.