Story Content or Grammatically Correct–Do You Have to Choose? By Christine Duncan, I’m off on a rant again. Apologies to all in advance.
You see, there was a post on one of my favorite websites where the author had been blasted for poor grammar on one of her web-pubbed stories. The author posted the criticism so she could argue with it because she was proud of her work and unapologetic about her grammar.

I did not go and read this author’s story, nor will I. For all I know her critic was unnecessarily harsh and there was no real problem with the writer’s handling of the language. Neither did I argue with her blog post that her story should be more important than her presentation.

But that is the wuss in me coming out. I’m not a grammarian (which is why we have links on this site to folks who are) and I tend toward run-on sentences, fragments and the like. But I believe in trying to do it right. All of my stuff usually needs a good going over before it is ready for prime-time. But that is exactly my problem with this author’s post. She put it out there and didn’t like the criticism. And felt the need to defend.

At the risk of sounding holier than thou, I really believe this kind of thinking–where the reader should overlook the flaws in your masterpiece because YOU are an author–is the mark of an amateur. When writing is important, when you really, really have an idea you want to get across, you want to present it in the best possible way.

This author may be a part of a movement that I’ve been noticing lately which says grammar is no longer important. I disagree. Grammar helps makes whatever you are writing more clear. If you doubt it, write down whatever comes into you head minus punctuation and any kind of rule. Then come back and read that sucker a day or so later and see if you can make heads or tails of it.

That’s not to say you won’t find grammatical mistakes here on Rule of Three. Nor is it to say that grammar can trump plot line, characterization, or story structure. But it is one of the tools in the writer’s toolbox, and it’s necessary.

But it seemed the argument was really that the author didn’t want to put the time into proofreading and correcting. She felt that was someone else’s job. Perhaps the reader’s. And since the story wasn’t worth the author’s time, it can’t be worth mine either.

Rant over, sigh. When I come back next week, I will do my best to get off the soap box.


One response to “Story Content or Grammatically Correct–Do You Have to Choose? By Christine Duncan

  1. I go ga-ga over the stuff I post to my blogs, be it a general post on my regular blog or a short story excerpt on my other.

    I want my readers to enjoy the content of what I post, and not think or see the errors, so I edit like a fiend right up to the publication of the post, and sometimes afterwards. The afterwards being when I go to respond to a comment and I happen to notice a grammar or punctuation error in the post.

    Bugs me to no end.

    Anyone who can’t take the time to proofread and fix their mistakes before posting, doesn’t have the right to moan and groan when someone becomes the “spell check” police and points out how badly written it is.

    If you can’t be bothered to put out the best you possibly can, why should we bother reading your stuff?

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