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Stygian

Grammar Nazis!

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I've probably spent most my life resenting any and all grammar Nazis. I've always believed that the message delivered via writing was more important than the mechanics that drive them. A large part of this is due to English being my adopted language (My Hungarian is terrible). The frustrations were routed early in my English Second Language classes. When I was 6, I had to learn the language from scratch, and I never really grasped many of the basic components of good grammar. Basically, I put most of my effort on the "How" of writing, rather than the "Why".

As I started to get into writing in college, I realized that those grammar Nazis had a point. My assignment was fairly straightforward; I had to create an instruction manual for assembling a Kinder Surprise toy. All the engineering students, myself included, scoffed at the notion of such a simple project. After having been subjected to Vector Mechanics and Multivariable Calculus, how hard can a simple set of instructions be? Boy, was I wrong! Each sentence had to be constructed concisely. The cursed commas needed to be placed in the right place or they might throw off the meaning. The made up names of each components had to be properly punctuated and remain constant through out the manual. It blew me away how a small mistake can throw off a reader. It was very apparent when I started to edit other peoples work in my group.

That's when I started paying more attention to writing in general. If grammar can make or break a simple instruction manual, then I can only imagine how jarring it could be with a fictional story. Every action, description, and dialogue has to make sense. The odd comma splice isn't a big deal, but you can change the meaning of a sentence by putting one in the wrong spot. Also, you can construct an obnoxiously long sentence using proper grammar, but it doesn't mean you should. Even now, I always ask myself if I really need avoid using a period in any string of sentences. I never really considered the reader needing to take a breath.

That pretty much brings me to today. Nearly a decade of work in a non writing field has dulled my skills, but I realize that I need push through it in order to become a better writer. That which I fought, is the very thing that will make me stronger. I must embrace the darkness and become a Sith Lord in the ranks of grammar Nazis. I hope there is cookies in the induction ceremony

P.S. I forewent talking about spelling, as I have graciously accepted my machine overlords' gift of spell check

P.P.S. I'm writing this during my coffee break at work, so no editing has been done. I suppose it's my last gibe at my old foes before giving in haha

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Comments

  1. bdcharles's Avatar
    We prefer the term "syntax artist" rather than "grammar nazi". But yeah, welcome
  2. escorial's Avatar
    My grammar fought against the Nazis
  3. escorial's Avatar
    One of my fav quotes by Pessoa..grammar is a tool not a law
  4. Stygian's Avatar
    I'm a bit curious. Do the rules for grammar go out the window when it comes to poetry? I've seen some pretty grammatically garbled pieces, but are very well composed nonetheless.
  5. escorial's Avatar
    a comparison I like is 500 years of classical music compared with what come in the 20th century..if you follow the rules of your era would anything new be created for the next generation..break all the rules than make your own up an break them I reckon...
  6. Stygian's Avatar
    That's a good point. I can see myself bending rules once I get fully back into writing. I still need to know the rules before bending them. I borrowed a few grammar books from my local library, and it's quite intimidating just figuring out where to start. Most things range from "Of course, that's a no brainer" to "WTF I didn't even know that was a thing". There is a huge section on tenses that still makes no sense. Perfect and imperfect past tense still hurt my brain to figure out, feels like I'm learning Calculus again for the first time. At least its not Vector Mech. F that course! Created by Satan himself!
  7. escorial's Avatar
    Standards are excellent and a professional attitude has to be commended...still to create has to be the aim and not the execution...all my fav authors I reckon are capable of writing that makes it read open and light without overcomplicating a story line or it's writing style...look upon your style as unique to you an it may translates to others....regardless of technical merit perhaps
  8. Stygian's Avatar
    I can't recall where I heard it, but someone once told me to never use a 10 dollar word when a 10 cent one will suffice. I have a fairly sizeable vocabulary, so it strikes me a bit odd to "dumb down" my writing. It does make sense though. A reader could trip over your words just as with grammar. I don't know what the fine line is though, I still have to consider it further.
  9. escorial's Avatar
    How you use words will define your style of writing...so many authors thought they would be a certain kind of writer but found there strengths in other,genres,style..etc
  10. MzSnowleopard's Avatar
    While they may have the right intentions, it's their delivery that makes them hated. Grammar Nazis don't seem to stop to consider 'how' they're getting their point across. Like a dog with a bone, they see one thing wrong and they can't let it go. Some go as far as ridicule until the person makes the correction. IMO this is bad behavior and they need to stop.
  11. escorial's Avatar
    Coming into contact with arseholes is a fact of life..one thing though is no matter how good you are your always going to need a modicome of luck with the people needed to make you a published author with sales..
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