Thursday, December 19, 2013

Let's Talk About... Grammatically Correct Writing

I use Grammarly's free plagiarism checker because rereading is only fun when you mean to do it.

When you're reading, how worried about good grammar are you? Is it something that's always in the back of your mind, picking out little occurrences--split infinitives (split infinitives are my bugaboo!), weird sentence structure, ending sentences in prepositions, comma splices, and the like? Or are you less worried about those kinds of things and instead focus solely on elements of the story? When you're reading a book that may not have been professionally edited, do you take that into consideration? Or are you similarly hard on all books?

These are questions that have been running about in my head recently. I'm an English major, and like to think I've got a good grasp on grammar, but I know I'm very imperfect. I know I skip a lot of grammar rules in favor of style because I like the way the improper sentence sounds better than the proper one. But when it comes to reading, I am less forgiving. (Which may be hypocritical of me.) When I pick up a book, especially one from a major publisher and therefore one I know has undergone professional copy editing, I expect certain grammar basics to be met. If I can point out certain errors, I am expecting someone else to be able to pinpoint those as well, and I don't think such things should get by an editor. 

I understand small mistakes happen--typos, something messing up (I copy edit for my school's newspaper, and at times the program we use absolutely refuses to save changes we make. An article gets read three times before it's sent to a page, but I've changed things on the page that I know I changed on the computer previously. It happens.)--but at the same time, if this is a book I purchased, there's a level of quality that I expect. I figure you should know the difference between "accept" and "except", which form of there to use, and how to use pronouns, which are all problems I've seen in books, both self and traditionally published.

Obviously, this differs when it comes to self-published books, especially those that have not undergone any (or very mild) professional editing. I still expect there to be a quality of writing that is aesthetically pleasing in some way, but I am willing to let more slide, since not every author can afford to hire someone to edit and we can't all be professional editors, you know? 

Now, none of this means I don't also pay attention to everything else going on in a book! I doubt I could write reviews solely about the fallacies of grammar in every book I read (though that might be kind of fun!) But it can be distracting in some instances, and I guess that's where my real problem lies. If I am so bothered by errors that I can't pay attention to the plot, it's obviously going to detract from my reading experience. This is really a personal thing--like how others get really hot and bothered about love triangles while love triangles don't really bother me.

So, what do you think? How much does incorrect grammar bother you? A lot? A little? Not at all? (How I wish I could be you!) If it does bother you, does it distract you from the story? What are your expectations in terms of quality of writing from big/little publishers and those who self publish? And, do you notice when you don't notice any grammar problems?

(If you haven't inferred, Grammarly has "sponsored" this blog post. Though I came up with the idea and wrote the post, they offered an incentive in exchange for my inclusion of the phrase at the top of the post.)

No comments:

Post a Comment