“When a thought takes one’s breath away, a grammar lesson seems an impertinence.” -Thomas W. Higginson
Grammar, oh, grammar.
I will admit to not being the greatest when it comes to grammar, but nor am I the worst offender ever. Give me a Facebook quiz on grammar and I will score top marks any day of the week, but that is because I am slowing myself down and thinking about the answer. When I write, it becomes an entirely different story. I write like I talk. Fast. I’m in a hurry to get the ideas down on paper that I don’t much pay attention to the words. After it is all written up, I read over everything and make the corrections. I try to double and triple check a post, status, and my novel writings before either making them public (for the first two) or sending to my editor (for the latter).
Even still, things slip by. Words get overlooked. We are, after all, only human. Mistakes are made. And while I know this is something that will happen from time to time, it is embarrassing when it happens. When I find I’ve accidently overlooked a there that was supposed to be a their. A you’re that was supposed to be a your. Or a to that was supposed to be a too. Even though it doesn’t happen very ofter, it does and will happen. But what can you do? My answer, edit when you can and move on.
Edit and move on is the best answer I can give. But I’ve decided to make a preemptive strike against any future grammar-flame-wars by purchasing Grammarly. My son’s been using the free version of it for his essay writing for school and seemed pleased with it. So the other day I thought I’d give it a try. I almost feel out of my chair at what all it found. The only problem was that the free version would only show me some of the errors, the other things like passive voice, I would have to pay for. $60 for three months. I bit the bullet and decided I would try it out.
Honestly, it’s more in an effort not to make my editors eyes bleed from all the mistakes before I send my next manuscript off to her. She’s fantastic, and I want to keep her so after I saw the gravity of my technical mistakes I decided I better start making her life easier. Even if I just use it for the three months, I figure it might help me catch those little mistakes quicker than I was catching them before. Luckily I’ve already taken an excellent course offered by Angela James called Before You Hit Send. Seriously, if you want to know some great self-editing tips take this course, it’s amazing!
Now, my little disclaimer to all of this is: I do not use the Before You Hit Send course or Grammarly in place of a real life editor. I use them to help me with cleaning up my first draft before sending it off to my editor for revisions.
(When my 3 months of Grammarly are up I’ll post again to share my thoughts on how well it worked and if it was worth the money for me, personally. But my initial feelings on it are that it is good. It finds a lot of things, like commas, and it gives good explanations for why things might be an error. But it also really wants me to use a lot of semicolons which in fiction writing aren’t always the best form of punctuation. It also runs on Chrome so as I am typing this it is finding my mistakes and flagging them for me to fix. It does the same thing on Facebook. My only gripe so far is that what it finds in Word seems to differ from what it finds on the web extension. I can fix all the mistakes I find in Word and then import it and from there it finds a whole new slew of problems including the all-important passive voice. But I’ve got three months to figure it out, maybe I’m just using it wrong. Which wouldn’t surprise me, I’m very tech-challenged.)
P.S. I am not an affiliate for any products or courses discussed on my blog, I am not paid by the companies or instructors to talk about them. I just wanted to share what I have found and what has worked for me so far.