Writers need to know their grammar

If you are a writer or author, you should know some of the basics of grammar. You should not rely on editors or proofreaders to correct and polish your sentences. Your manuscript can easily be rejected by agents and publishers if it comes to them riddled with errors. And for those of us who self-publish, you can expect plenty of negative reviews if you publish a book full of grammar mistakes.

Yes, one can try to rely on grammar programs such as WhiteSmoke or Grammerly or even rely on those proofreaders, but all writers should know the basics of grammar – or at least know enough to look up the rule if they are unsure.

And yes, there are grey areas where it isn’t clear what the correct grammar rule is. There are also situations where the matter of style may be different for one genre or even a story taking place in certain geographical region.

But knowing the “rules” will make writers better and will make it easier for them to bend or break the rules if they deem it necessary for their craft.

Now you may not remember all those grammar rules that were drilled into you during elementary school. And even if you do, it is always nice to be able to brush up on your grammar. There are countless books out there that can help. Or if you need the answer to a question now, you can turn to the Internet.

Books to keep nearby:

Dictionary

Thesaurus

Flip-Dictionary or Reverse Dictionary – These books are for when you know what something is but not what it is called.

Style and Usage Guide – I have seen all sorts of recommendations for The New York Manual of Style and The Chicago Manual of Style. But I always have had Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style on hand since college.

You also may want to include any reference books that pertain to your genre such as forensics if you are writing a police drama or a book on poisons if you are writing a mystery.

Internet resources:

Grammar and PunctuationGrammarbook.com

SpellingDictionary.com or Merriam-Webster

Word ChoiceThesaurus.com or Reverse Dictionary

ResearchEncyclopedia.com or Wikipedia.com (the latter one may not be too reliable as it can be edited by anyone, but it can be a good starting point in your research)

Also for research, check out Writerswrite.com

Writing helpWriter’s Digest

Do you have a favorite grammar book, reference book or reference website, please share them in the comments below.

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3 thoughts on “Writers need to know their grammar

  1. Strunk and White doesn’t cover nearly as much, or in as much detail, as CMOS, although it is a good quick reference for some topics.

    I dislike Grammarly. I’ve caught it making too many errors, particularly with subject-verb agreement and declaring something “passive voice” that isn’t.

  2. […] I have already covered characters, starting scenes, ending scenes, story arcs, setting, editing, grammar, covers, titles, pricing, and so many other […]

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