We don’t like grammar nazi’s, do we? Because, the English language is complicated beyond compare, it is evolving such than the grammar rules that were used years back are not used now, it changes, you can’t read a classic to improve your grammatical skills. We get offended when someone points out their grammar errors, ha! “Peter” we say to shoo them away. We beg the other friend from a different state not to kill our mother tongue for the sake of it, but take all the liberty to do that to this beautiful language that helps us to communicate with most parts of the world, helps globalization, shrinks our border, helps us grow, and what not? We get offended enough when someone corrects us, but, we abuse that beautiful language like no other.
We call ourselves “storytellers” and ditch the importance of grammar and sentence structure. Why is it so difficult to learn the semantics or at least, improve on a daily basis? Here are tips for newbie Indian authors who publishes books just for the sake of fame, but are ready to compromise on the quality of writing adding shame to the Indian literary community just because there is no stop or no filter to say “this crap should not get published”
The above is not to hurt anyone, but, hey! If the shoe fits.
Read, read, read and read!
No better teacher than reading. It is only through reading that you can ever improve yourself. Read wider, have a pact with your friend. Read a book a week or a month, note down what strikes your mind and try using it in your daily life. Improve a piece of writing after a year or so, scale your writing, weigh yourself against the changes in your language with every book.
When in doubt – you Google. Use quotations and google the phrase you are trying to use. The search result would help you in understanding if it’s the right usage.
Surrender yourself to a grammar nazi
I thoroughly strip away my ‘author’ tag and any pride factor (though nothing) and totally admit myself to my grammar gurus. Tip: Most of my grammar nazi friends are avid readers and writers.
Numerous sites offer free grammar tests for you to know where you stand, make utmost use of it. Follow a religious schedule and keep track of improvisation.
What’s your strength and weaknesses
Indeed, grammar is an ocean and you would already know your biggest weakness. Example: Prepositions are my weakness. I was very bad and after sheer practice, I have significantly improved. So analyze yourself and start preparing accordingly. You need not take the nouns, verbs, pronouns route all over again.
Ginger software and Grammarly are good tools that come in handy, however, they are based on algorithms and are not always right. It takes human intervention and improved knowledge to accept or reject a change that the tools suggest. So go back to point one – read!
Editor – manuscript’s soulmate
You give the best to your kids, don’t you? Yes! Ensure your manuscript reaches the right editor who loves reading, adores writing, breathes grammar, and just can’t stand an error in a work. Look for passionate editors, luckily, I know a handful. Ping me, if you’re looking for a good editor.
Readers – The boss
Though readers pay for your novel, they are your boss. Don’t let your pathetic book spoil their skills. What if someone picks up improper usage of a word or grammar in their real life and get’s sacked? Don’t ever do that to your readers. Ensure that only the best gets printed.
Now that you are done with the ‘writing’ part which includes ‘re-writes,’ the next step is EDITING – The Red Color Pen should sign across your novel to make it better. If you plan to publish your novel traditionally, the publishers will invest for the editing or they will have an in-house team of editors. Even if you self-publish via a publisher, you have the option to pay for the editing services. If you individually self-publish, the best is to invest on a freelance editor to get your work polished.
One predominant thing – EDITING is mandatory, regardless of how well-versed you are in English. Even if you are confident enough, proof reading is recommended.
Editing: Editing is typically revising the work, re-writing parts, re-organize to adhere timelines, change the scene positions.
Line-editing: Checks the content, persistence in style, and command in language – only at the sentence level or call it a paragraph level.
Flow in the paragraphs
Tighten the dialogues
Check the tone of the sentence
Follow the narrative style
Copy-editing: It is more about formatting and checking grammar, spellings and sweep through the script to hold the typographical errors, minor issues and errors in the script.
Content-editing or Developmental Edit: Character or behavior of your protagonist and others should be consistent. A content editor will tap here to fish if it’s ideal for your character to speak or do something given the description followed. The dialogues and plot are to be plausible and nothing will be missed as such with a content editor.
Ensure goal is achieved
Substantive-editing: An editor who does substantive editing turns almost a shadow of the writer, they almost re-write your story to make it look perfect. For those who are good story-tellers but find it difficult to put the same on black and white, can go for substantive editing.
Re-ordering the scenes to fit
Check if the goal, the conflict, and reason behind writing it is fulfilled
Play the reader’s brain role to influence the writer accordingly
Proof-reading: That one final look before you send it to print, is called proof reading. So just spacing checks and punctuation.
Editors help you fine-tune and present the novel that you ever dreamt of, hire the right person.
The next post will highlight few editors’ profiles that were verified. If in case you are looking for an editor – stay tuned.