Grammarly survey highlights the importance of good writingWho says spelling, punctuation and grammar aren't important any more? Words spelt differently mean different things. Punctuation is how we make sense of our sentences. And we need to be able to speak and write our own language properly. Grammarly, which claims to be the world's most accurate grammar checker, recently conducted a survey of 400 freelancers to find out what impact writing skills have on a person's career opportunities.
Here, my guest blogger, Nikolas Baron, from Grammarly's marketing team in San Francisco, says that they aim to raise awareness of the importance of good writing. 'Good writing is not only foundational to good communication but it can also unlock knowledge, job opportunities and access to education.'
Nikolas's job entails talking to writers, bloggers, teachers and others about how they use Grammarly's online proofreading application to improve their writing. Below, he writes about common errors and gives his take on how to avoid them.
The Most Common Errors and How to Avoid Them
Terri Bruce, the author of a fantasy novel series, just took her publisher to court. She complained that the publisher had introduced hundreds of unapproved revisions. According to Terri, these revisions were errors. These errors, she said, made her look like “an illiterate git.” Terri won her case. The publisher halted the books’ publication and returned the rights to the author. The judge served this verdict because he agreed that the book in the debated form could have damaged the author’s reputation. In particular, Terri counted 260 alleged errors in her novel. Fortunately, the average new author does not have to worry about such extraordinary experiences. There nonetheless exist some general missteps committed by almost every newbie. Follow these tips to avoid making these common errors
Make Sure One Plus One Equals Two
As you develop your plot, perhaps you will allow the characters to lead the story. While you write, the story may make twists and turns. When you finish, are you as shocked at the surprise ending as your readers will be? This method yields rich, character-driven stories. Unfortunately, the process often generates loose ends and plot flaws irritate readers. This problem should be avoided because you want readers to discuss your novel with others. However, you do not want the discussion to center around the holes that you left in the plot. Have a friend review your novel to make sure that the plot is consistent throughout the novel. What should you do if the facts do not add up? It is imperative to rewrite. Supplement the plot with the details that are necessary to make the events of the novel as logical as possible.
Put some flesh on those bones!
Let me share with you something I once heard about romance plots: Romance novels work because the reader falls in love with the character. The readers must see why the love interest is worthy of attention and pursuit. In any novel, the character needs to show a fully-developed personality. Go beyond describing the physical appearance of your character. Describe the experiences that shape his or her emotions and hopes. Ensure that the reactions that he or she expresses towards the events that transpire are in keeping with the characteristics that you have described. The reader will not cheer when a poorly developed character overcomes obstacles. The villains will become boring. The supporting characters will seem frivolous and forgettable. I found two great online resources to address this issue. Check out Character Questionnaires from Gotham Writers’ Workshop and the online classes hosted by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.
Do not sound like “an illiterate git”!
I sympathized with Terri Bruce when I read an article about her experience. The strongest attraction, however, was to the quote that I have used twice in this piece. Even now, I laugh a little inside at the phrase “illiterate git.” Words are extremely provocative. With a few words, you can make yourself seem ridiculous or worthy of acclaim. Hire a developmental copy editor who will help you eliminate grammatical errors and arrange the story in a manner that flows well. If you cannot afford a professional copy editor, use an online proofreading service. Each time that you make a revision, check the document again for errors. After publication, critics will comment on the quality of the writing. It would be a shame if grammar flaws ruined your reputation as an author.
Imagine that you are going to go for a drive. Your friend tells you to watch out for the huge puddle in the middle of Main Street. He informs you that it is deceptively deep, and you could wreck your tire if you drive through it. I am that friend! I have seen hundreds of manuscripts in my work at Grammarly. I have researched some pitfalls associated with new authors that you would do well to avoid. I have only scratched the surface in this article. There are many more challenges that you can overcome with some foresight. I recommend the article, “Seven Self-Publishing Mistakes that Can Sabotage Your Book”. Happy Writing!