Friday, 6 May 2011

Duz speling and gramer mattar?


Had the most surreal experience on a writers' board recently. Someone started a thread asking if anyone else was bothered by bad spelling and grammar in posts, a question which seemed like a no-brainer to me. I can't think of anything more basic to calling yourself a writer than mastering spelling and grammar, the nuts and bolts if you like of wordsmithing*. You wouldn't ask a motor mechanic if he thought nuts and bolts mattered, or a joiner if he thought wood mattered. It's fundamental, surely?

Apparently not. According to the luminaries on that thread it is snobbish to judge someone on the basis of their spelling and grammar. Content is all. Anyone who is turned off by technical faults is clearly an intolerant bigot. After all, isn't that what editors are for?

Ahem, I kid you not, that was the gist of it. Now, I'm all for content, don't get me wrong. Some of the most grammatically pristine prose is so dull and devoid of meaningful content it makes you want to pluck out both eyes in protest. But if your careless spelling and clumsy grammar keeps tripping up the reader to the extent they cannot get your meaning, or give up trying, you have failed in any case. Spelling and grammar are the hallmarks of a pro, or at least someone serious and thoughtful enough to have bothered proofreading their own work. I'm too old and grumpy to bother with slapdash writing. If you aren't savvy enough, or considerate enough, or capable enough to at least try to get it right then I don't waste my time.

And of course it helps to have something interesting to say. But that's another post.

*OK, so it isn't a word, but I'm taking poetic license. Damn spellcheck.

5 comments:

Anthony Cowin said...

I dont agree. I think that grammer are not as important as good riting. I should now because I sold my book four a 5 figre sum.

So even if you cant spell youre probably okay. i always say worry about youre words and note what they look like wen on the page as the editer will sort that stuff out for you its there job anayway.

Sandra Patterson said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Tony. You're not a sock puppet of Peter Andre's by any chance?

Anthony Cowin said...

I think he divorced his sock puppet a while back. She married a cage fighter after that. Ka-ching!

sallyjenkins said...

I agree, Sandra. Spelling and grammar are important (& apostrophes in the wrong place really get my goat!)

Jen said...

Anthony, that's hilarious!

Sandra, of course spelling and grammar are important. And I would be ashamed to send anything off to an editor that needed too much correction. After all, i fI want an editor (or agent, or publisher) to take me seriously as a writer, I think I need to demonstrate a basic grasp of spelling and grammar. Otherwise, why would they want to work with me?