The Great Wall of Blah Blah Blah

I have talked with a lot of writers over the years, some just starting out. I am surprised, though, when people send me something that they wrote, but the writing is extremely crude. Not in vulgar, but presented in a way where I have to wonder if English is their first language.

I remember one example in particular where it consisted of one solid paragraph. While a lengthy paragraph isn’t an issue in itself, the paragraph included several people speaking – sometimes a few in the same sentence – and many run-on sentences. This was their first chapter, which comprised one page of solid text. Needless to say, it was a struggle to read.

It does make me wonder about the state of our educational system if children aren’t learning the basics of sentence structure.

That aside, there are fundamental rules of grammar that should be observed when writing. Otherwise you have a good chance of alienating readers rather than drawing them in. You may have a good story, but if you can’t express it in a clear fashion, no one is going to read it!

One of the best ways to learn the rules of grammar is to watch them in practice. The best way to do this, of course, is to read! While you’re reading, pay close attention not just to what words the author uses, but how they are being used. It often helps to read a work multiple times to fully understand this.

For those starting out with their own writing, pay attention to how the author uses sentences. Are they long sentences, or short? Does the length of the sentence help to convey the action on the page? What adjectives does the author use that help to describe the character?

By studying the writings of other authors – especially those that you like – you will develop a better understanding of how writing works. While you shouldn’t exactly copy what another author has written, try to identify what the author does to develop their own sense of style. Why does it work? How does it work? And most importantly, what can I do to tell my story in a similar fashion?

If you have an author you like, or have any questions about style or grammar, please feel free to ask! One of the purposes of this blog is to help others improve their writing style, and I intend this to be a welcoming place to discuss the art of writing.

If you’d prefer to communicate via Facebook, feel free to stop by my author page here. I’d love to hear from you!

Until next week, keep on reading and writing!