Say a writer, with em... "undesirable" grammar were to submit their MS to a publisher (small press or large press, you're choice). If the story was absolutely stellar, could their grammar be overlooked? I know that there are plenty of people and resources available to the public, and there should really be no reason for a writer to submit his/her work if it's in bad shape, but isn't it also supposedly the editor's job to filter this stuff out?
What do you say- does a brilliant story have the potential to be published, despite horrible grammar?
It depends on how bad the grammar really is. We all make mistakes. But it's darned near impossible to write a stellar story using poor grammar, UNLESS the poor grammar is intentional, and is used in just the right way, at just the right time, and for just the right reason. Thinking you can write a stellar story without good language skills probably won't take you very far.
An editor's job is not to filter out bad grammar. An editor's job is to find good writers, and good grammar is part of good writing.
But as an editor, I can tell you two things that may seem contradictory. 1. I've never read a stellar story written by a writer who was lousy at grammar. You just can't have one without the other. 2. I've read some extremely good stories by writers who didn't know they were good at grammar, who didn't know a verb from an herb, and who had not a clue what a past participle might be, etc., but they still did almost everything right because they were great readers
It does help to know the technicalities of grammar, what all the terms mean, but as long as you're getting most of it right, it doesn't really matter how you do it.
The two areas I think a writer must know are active/passive, and tense.
At the same time, grammar is not rocket science, and pretty much anyone can learn all the grammar they need, including all the terms, in a month or two. I don't know why so many wannabe writers are unwilling to sit down and learn grammar, the basic tool of writing. It's work, I guess, and it certainly isn't as much fun as actually writing fiction, but trying to be a writer without understanding how to use this basic tool is like trying to be a carpenter without first learning how to use a hammer and saw.
You need the basics, and all it takes to learn the basics is a book or two and some dedicated time.