IT’S A NEW DAY! NEW MONTH! NEW YEAR!
Readers Also Have Eagle-Eye Expectations
“Be careful—be very careful—never to misspell, misuse, or make a pronoun error!” This advice came from an experienced writing acquaintance. He had just experienced a lengthy discussion (argument) with an editor who had been assigned “review” his manuscript. This gentleman author used creative spelling in the dialogue segments of one particular character throughout the whole book and the editor wanted it corrected. That was not going to happen! Within the week the author and the publishing house had a mutual parting-of-the-way and the author self-published!
Although I was very excited for my writing friend, I could also see the editor’s perspective. Word usage is extremely important and a skill that we must all develop: GRAMMAR! When I was in elementary and high school, I disliked that word (grammar) a lot! However, I now look upon it more kindly as I’ve grown into the “study of linguistics.”
Have you ever heard someone try to dodge a point being made in a discussion by saying, “Oh, that’s just your own semantics!” It sounds like—and may be meant as—a dismissive statement. However, the person/character who says that is usually doing their best to avoid accepting the other person’s perspective. Here are a few things I’ve learned about linguistics and how this study continues to enhance my writing abilities.
- When you and I speak/write in our own language, we use “internalized rules” to shape phrases and sentences that best communicate what we want another person to understand. This is essentially the use of grammar—our personal grammar—acquired since our ears first heard sounds.
- Linguistics is the “bigger picture” of the basic grammar we learned in school—those clauses, and dangling participles we had to diagram. Writers who want to communicate to their readers must step into this expanded study and hear their characters speaking phonetically.
- Writers of the exceptional and well-received books have learned the rules that govern the linguistic behavior of a characters and/or a group of characters.
- AND writers must also accept the challenges of accurate spelling! Words may sound alike, even have similar spellings, however VERY different meanings. (e.g. their, there, they’re)
Systems of Grammar have been with us since the days of Sanskrit which existed in the Iron Age. In approximately 100 B.C. a fella named Dionysius Thrax developed his “Art of Grammar” which appeared closely to the 1st century Latin grammars. In the High Middle Ages, the Hebrew grammar developed very specific rules, leading into the Middle Ages where grammar was taught—to those of privilege—as a “core discipline” of communication. By the time the Renaissance Period was bringing about world-wide changes, all nations and people groups had some form of “grammar rules” by which to more clearly communicate.
I’ve heard it said that the Americanized grammar “rules” are no more than guidelines and extremely frustrating to authors of all genres. Personally, I prefer the term guidelines because—like the characters I’m developing—language is a living entity. It grows and changes with each individual person/character and culture. It is up to us—our creative writing ears—to hear and write in the best forms of linguistic grammar that will communicate exactly what we want our readers to hear. ⚓︎
|ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.
Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.