We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
Sometimes you don’t even need any help with grammar to improve the wording of your work. Sometimes you just need to stop and think about what you wrote for a moment. Consider these newspaper headlines:
Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter
Think about that for a minute.
Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says
Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
Miners Refuse to Work after Death
Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
War Dims Hope for Peace
If Strike Isn’t Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile
Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
Enfield ( London ) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide
Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges
Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge
New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft
Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors
Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead
Nothing wrong with the grammar in any of these statements. Nothing wrong with the words used in them either. But the way they’re put together, they make utter nonsense.
That’s good for a funny email, but when you’re trying to write a serious book—or even a serious newspaper headline—you don’t need this sort of mis-wording. You need your writing not only to be grammatically correct but also sensible.
Since the overall purpose of this series of posts is to help us write more grammatically correct work, I certainly don’t want to discourage anyone from learning and using good grammar. However, in addition to that, we need to use a little common sense, too. We need to give a second look at what we write and be sure it actually says what we intended for it to say.
David N. Walker is a Christian father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years as a health insurance agent. Most of that career was spent in Texas, but for a few years he traveled many other states. He started writing about 20 years ago, and has six unpublished novels to use as primers on how NOT to write fiction. He has just e-pubbed his devotional, Heaven Sent: 67 Stories of Godly Thoughts and Inspiration (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008CRL82M). His new fiction work—a series of novellas set during the period from 1860 to 1880 is underway. The first one is in the editing process, and he’s currently writing the second one.
Contact David at email@example.com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx