A3Writer: Writing Tools: Grammar Handbooks
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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Writing Tools: Grammar Handbooks

     I suppose I'm on something of a grammar kick with the end of the teaching semester here. Grammar is one of those subjects that writers at almost every level hates or dreads. Whether your particular bane is the apostrophe, the 14 (or is 15 now?) comma rules, when to capitalize certain titles, or any of the other seemingly endless arbitrary rules, it's the author's job to get good at grammar.
     It's not just for the sake of your agent or editor, either. Yes, they will certainly feel like executing you if you continue to make the same error throughout your manuscript, but more importantly you need to know how to craft sentences in an effective way. The very structure of a sentence can convey as much as the words in a sentence.
     To that end, every author should invest in a solid writing or grammar handbook. There's plenty of them on the market, many with tabs for ease of reference. Browse them on Amazon or pop over to a local college bookstore where you'll find many of them. They can run anywhere between $20-$65, and are worth every penny. Well, there is one catch. It doesn't do anything if it sits on your shelf or desk collecting dust. Get in the habit of using it when you revise and edit. Yes, it'll slow you down as you edit, but there is a trade-off. 1. Agents and editors will love you for it. 2. Your writing will improve at the composition stage so you will make fewer initial mistakes.
     Now if only I can get my students to do this.

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