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tony1
07-23-2006, 12:52 AM
Is there anybody out there who might have a unique way they do this task. I hate it, probably becuase my grammer and punctuation sucks..! I'm thinking if anyone has a list or a system they follow, it might help me some. I'm the kind that loses interest at the task at hand, but I will follow a list to the letter. I know this sounds crazy... but, I could use the help. Thanks, tony1

reph
07-23-2006, 03:11 AM
If your grammar and punctuation suck, you need to improve your knowledge of G&P in order to edit. Books like Strunk & White or the grammar books used in schools help that way. Sorry if this isn't the kind of solution you're looking for, but it's all I know to tell you.

Jamesaritchie
07-23-2006, 03:47 AM
As reph says, first you need to learn proper grammar and punctuation. Nothing else is going to matter until after you accomplish this. A writer without a working knowledge of grammar and punctuation simply isn't going to be successful.

Grammar isn't rocket science, and there's no reason not to learn it well enough to be a writer. My own favorite method of learning is to get a seventh or eighth grade grammar book. You can probably get one from a local school. It's set up to teach twelve and thirteen year olds grammar, so it can certainly help you.

Also get a copy of Strunk & White's Elements of Style.

Trying to be a writer before you have a working knowledge of grammar and punctuation is like trying to be a carpenter before you know how to use a hammer or a saw. It just isn't going to work.

You do not need to be an expert, but you do need a working knowledge. You should be able to learn all you really need to know in a month or two, tops. If you need a list, make learning grammar and punctuation the number one item on that list.

JanDarby
07-23-2006, 04:26 AM
Me, I love rewriting. That's where the story comes alive and takes real shape, and I feel like I'm finally in control. Well, I love it the first couple times. After that, it's just hard work, but that's a necessary part of the process.

One trick, beyond learning the fundamentals as others have said, is to break the revisions down into stages. Don't try to fix everything in a 400-page novel (or even in a 30-page short story) all in one pass.

My first draft just gets the basic plot and characterization in place. Then, I do the next draft just to fill in all the blanks I left in my gappy first draft, and don't worry about the grammar, spelling and individual sentences much. (Although I do have those skills when needed, and I'm not suggesting you can skip learning them, just that it's pointless to spend huge chunks of time perfecting a sentence that will be deleted when you determine that the entire scene it's in needs to be cut or rewritten from scratch.)

Another pass through the manuscript is for theme, which I don't usually have a thorough handle on until after the first two drafts, but at this stage, I can rework some scenes or add/subtract scenes to emphasize the theme and remove conflicting themes. For other people who are better with theme, this stage might be something like characterization, making sure the character sounds and looks the same throughout. Or whatever other aspect that's known to be a problem.

Then another pass is for grammar and sentence rhythm and missing words and blue eyes in chapter one that become green eyes in chapter twenty.

And once I'm satisfied with all those previous revisions, I run the spellchecker AGAIN (I do it frequently, to get rid of as much as it can help with, freeing me up to fix the things the spellchecker can't fix) to catch the stuff that spontaneously generated during my previous revisions and then do one more pass through it for anything -- plot, grammar, structure -- that irritates me as I read.

If I were a more virtuous author, and one who didn't "hear" the discordant words/sentences in her head as she reads, I'd follow the really excellent advice to read the presumed final draft one more time aloud, looking for clunky sentences and other stuff missed on previous passes.

JD

Puma
07-23-2006, 05:58 PM
The advice everyone else has given you is good. I especially support reading through the first time for content (and fixing whatever else happens to catch your eye on the first pass through). If you're using Microsoft Word, you can use spellchecker (but don't rely on it - as far as Word's concerned, to, too, and two are all correct in any situation). Word will also show you what it thinks is wrong grammatically by underlining certain words. Look at what Word has to say about each one. In the process you should learn some of the grammar rules (and can make up a list yourself of things to watch for). But, nothing is ever going to take the place of knowing proper grammar and spelling. Finally, after you think you've got your manuscript in pretty good shape, see if you can find a grammar sensitive reader who'll be willing to mark what's wrong and can tell you why (not the easiest person to find) - or post a section (500 words app) on the share your work forum and see what the critics here think. It all takes time; but it is essential time. A flawed manuscript isn't going to go anywhere no matter how amazing the story idea is. Puma

FloVoyager
07-24-2006, 01:01 AM
Good ideas all.

If you're into lists, you could make your own. Start with these suggestions and build from there. What works for you is what you should do.

I have a list, checking basically one type of thing at a time, and that works for me.

Shadow_Ferret
07-24-2006, 05:09 AM
I'm thinking it would be a heluva long list if you don't have the proper grammar foundation. As jamesritchie pointed out, a seventh or eighth grade grammar book is a great place to start.

One of my favorite books is "English 2600: A Programed Couse in Grammar and Usage." It starts out with the simplest of sentences, "Birds fly." and gradually moves on to more complicated instruction.

Maybe you lose interest in editing because you currently lack confidence in your ability to edit. A little knowledge goes a long way.

Another decent book on grammar is "The Transitive Vampire." I'm thinking if you go to any good sized used book store you will find some fairly good grammar books for cheap.

Good luck. :Thumbs:

byElizabeth
07-29-2006, 01:36 AM
Zinsser's ON WRITING WELL is an excellent way to learn more about Grammar and Mechanics...and it actually reads quite well!

tony1
08-06-2006, 12:06 AM
I'm sorry I haven't been on for awhile, I read all of the replys to my thread. It was a very bad choice of words when I said," My grammer and punctuation suck." What I was meaning to say was my editing skills are bad. I seem to spend too much time debating and flipping through Strunk and White's book to get make sure my g & P are right. I'm too indecisive and unsure of myself. I struggle everyday with getting better, and I have seen inprovement in my writing. For me, It seems that it all boiled down to practice -- I just kept on writing. Thank you all for the advice. Tony1

gwendy85
08-18-2006, 12:21 PM
It's a Godsend!

http://www.bartleby.com/141/

Jamesaritchie
08-18-2006, 02:47 PM
It's a Godsend!

http://www.bartleby.com/141/

It's a book you should not use. People keep going to the Bartleby book, but this is not "The Elements of Style" that writers should be using. This is the 1918 version, written by Strunk alone, and if you follow it, you'll be badly outdated, and incorrect a good portion of the time.

You have to get the Strunk & White version, first pubished in, I think, 1959. It's E. B. White who makes "The Elements of Style" what it is. It just isn't possible to substitute the 1918 version.

A used copy of the correct book is only a couple of bucks, but whatever you do, avoid the Bartleby version.

Mayor of Moronia
08-18-2006, 03:27 PM
C'mon James!

Thomas Wolfe was very successful and had nice editors who didnt mind rendering his elephants down to digestible chihauhaus.

But James is correct. Invest in some books.

On the other-hand, when you do master grammar and punctuation, you'll encounter a new problem: Idiot editors who know a little about grammar and punctuation, and ruin your manuscript inserting their errors. And when you point out to you mom that it was not you who made the goof, you'll get the same response Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings got when she told her neighbor, Mrs.Mickens, she won a Pulitizer Prize....."Sho you did!"

Mayor of Moronia
08-18-2006, 03:29 PM
by Elizabeth

Zinsser is a PC crybaby.

Jamesaritchie
08-18-2006, 05:42 PM
C'mon James!

Thomas Wolfe was very successful and had nice editors who didnt mind rendering his elephants down to digestible chihauhaus.

But James is correct. Invest in some books.

On the other-hand, when you do master grammar and punctuation, you'll encounter a new problem: Idiot editors who know a little about grammar and punctuation, and ruin your manuscript inserting their errors. And when you point out to you mom that it was not you who made the goof, you'll get the same response Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings got when she told her neighbor, Mrs.Mickens, she won a Pulitizer Prize....."Sho you did!"

Thomas Wolfe is dead, and so is his editor. Even back then, editors such as Maxwell Perkins were rare as hen's teeth. I doubt any other editor in the business would have done what he did for Wolfe. Or could have done it, for that matter.

On the other hand, I've never had an editor insert errors into a manuscript, and certainly never ruin one. Besides, the wirter always gets the last look at a novel manuscript when galleys arrive, so if any errors make it through, it's the writer's fault.

Mayor of Moronia
08-18-2006, 05:53 PM
James

I just imagined 99% of the people on this board musing "Tom Wolfe is alive and well."

Jamesaritchie
08-18-2006, 07:31 PM
James

I just imagined 99% of the people on this board musing "Tom Wolfe is alive and well."

Yep, I can't tell you how many times I've encountered writers on forums who thought Tom Wolfe wrote "You Can't Go Home Again."