Recommend your favourite Grammar and Style resources


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Thread: Recommend your favourite Grammar and Style resources

  1. #1

    Recommend your favourite Grammar and Style resources

    I've started to write each day and I've got my inspiration book full of story ideas. My goal is to write novels but I'm working on some short stories first to sharpen my grammar skills. I need to learn proper grammar (I'm a firm believer that you have to know the rules before you can break them), style, form, usage etc.

    What are your favourite resources for Grammar and Style?

  2. #2
    I generally don't have one. I took a course in Business English. I own a reference book but I've never opened it.

    Sorry I can't help.
    Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone.
    — Robert G. Allen

  3. #3
    The Elements of Style by EB White and William Strunk. It's a tiny, cheap book that tells you a LOT about style and grammar for writing. It's probably one of the two greatest resources for books about writing, along side King's On Writing, which arguably does very little with grammar.

    Those are the only two books I really have for learning specifics of the craft. I studied grammar for a long time in school, so what I know I know and what mistakes I make, get corrected when I edit/have others critique my work. Grammar will never be 100% perfect, but this is what editors are for.
    If you ever need a second set of eyes on your work, PM me for a critique! I'm happy to help Hidden Content

  4. #4
    My primary usage reference is Fowler's Modern English Usage, Third Edition, R.W. Burchfield, editor, Clarendon Press, Oxford. There is a fourth edition which I do not yet have.

    For style there is only one reliable reference, Hart's Rules Handbook of Style for Writers and Editors, Oxford University Press.

    My desk dictionary is The Oxford Concise Dictionary of Current English, ninth edition, edited by Della Thompson, Clarendon Press, Oxford. Again there is a newer edition I do not yet have but plan to get soon.

    These three stay within arm's reach when I'm writing. With Fowler, Hart's Rules, and an Oxford dictionary you will be well equipped as a writer. Accept no substitutes.
    El día ha sido bueno. La noche será larga.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Bishop View Post
    The Elements of Style by EB White and William Strunk. It's a tiny, cheap book that tells you a LOT about style and grammar for writing. It's probably one of the two greatest resources for books about writing, along side King's On Writing, which arguably does very little with grammar.

    Those are the only two books I really have for learning specifics of the craft. I studied grammar for a long time in school, so what I know I know and what mistakes I make, get corrected when I edit/have others critique my work. Grammar will never be 100% perfect, but this is what editors are for.
    I have both those books. I really enjoyed the Stephen King one and I think I got halfway through Elements before being a mom got in the way of pursuing my passion (which is sad because the book IS tiny).

    I just want to make sure I'm not making horrible, rookie mistakes. I don't want to write a whole book only to find out after the fact that it's significantly grammatically incorrect. Could the book make it anywhere if it were? (I don't know the answers to that, just thinking out loud).

    I guess I feel I don't know enough. I couldn't tell you what an adverb is. I don't know what a fragmented sentence is. This list could go on, but I think you get the idea. I don't know if any of that even matters, but I think it probably should. Shouldn't it?

    Maybe I'm over thinking this. But I read people talk about their writing and I have no idea what they are saying. Especially when it comes to reading critiques.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by garza View Post
    My primary usage reference is Fowler's Modern English Usage, Third Edition, R.W. Burchfield, editor, Clarendon Press, Oxford. There is a fourth edition which I do not yet have.

    For style there is only one reliable reference, Hart's Rules Handbook of Style for Writers and Editors, Oxford University Press.

    My desk dictionary is The Oxford Concise Dictionary of Current English, ninth edition, edited by Della Thompson, Clarendon Press, Oxford. Again there is a newer edition I do not yet have but plan to get soon.

    These three stay within arm's reach when I'm writing. With Fowler, Hart's Rules, and an Oxford dictionary you will be well equipped as a writer. Accept no substitutes.
    Thanks so much! Would you recommend I get the newer editions of the first and last book?

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Lisa View Post
    I have both those books. I really enjoyed the Stephen King one and I think I got halfway through Elements before being a mom got in the way of pursuing my passion (which is sad because the book IS tiny).

    I just want to make sure I'm not making horrible, rookie mistakes. I don't want to write a whole book only to find out after the fact that it's significantly grammatically incorrect. Could the book make it anywhere if it were? (I don't know the answers to that, just thinking out loud).

    I guess I feel I don't know enough. I couldn't tell you what an adverb is. I don't know what a fragmented sentence is. This list could go on, but I think you get the idea. I don't know if any of that even matters, but I think it probably should. Shouldn't it?

    Maybe I'm over thinking this. But I read people talk about their writing and I have no idea what they are saying. Especially when it comes to reading critiques.
    Honestly, I can tell a bit by just how your write your posts, and I think you're over-thinking it. Firstly, just by reading what you've written here I can say you're not making rookie mistakes. Grammar is a guide, not rules, no matter what Mrs. Graveman tried to tell me in fourth grade. Grammatically correct books are boring, especially in the dialogue. If all of your characters speak with perfect grammar, they have no independent voices. A book could definitely make it somewhere without perfect grammar. Look at 50 Shades. There are some serious and glaring grammar issues, style issues, and syntax errors with that book. Didn't stop it from being a top seller.

    But to fill in some of the blanks you mentioned...

    And adverb is a word that acts as an adjective for the verb, or in more simply terms, says how something is done. A great majority of adverbs end in "-ly", and are words like, quickly, slowly, reluctantly, defensively, and often. In a sentence: "He closed the door gently." Gently modifies "closed" because it's saying HOW he closed the door. The door isn't "gently". There's adverb clauses as well, which are phrases that act as an adverb, such as, "He closed the door with a gentle hand." In fiction, adverbs should be used sparingly, because they can distract the reader and sometimes are redundant, like in "He slammed the door forcefully." Forcefully is unnecessary, because it was already implied with the word "slammed" as the verb. "Slammed" denotes force.

    A fragmented sentence is a dependent clause that is acting as its own sentence. Most often, it's a sentence with no verb. These are commonplace in speech, so they get put into dialogue a lot, but also can be used in narration for effect. For instance: "No way." That's technically not a sentence, but people say things like that all the time. In narration, I sometimes use it for dramatic effect, like this: "Silence. It was more damning than the loudest scream." "Silence" is not a full sentence, but there it is, pretending to be one! It's grammatically incorrect, but if you read that in a book, you'd accept it and continue on without batting an eye (okay, maybe you'd note how cheesy that line is...). Another way to think about it is this... A fragmented sentence is only part of what you want to say, standing in its own sentence.

    Does it matter? Yes and no. Yes, it matters on some level. Often the only way to break the rules properly is to know them first, but at the same time what you're talking about is semantics. You might not know what a fragmented sentence is, but you know when you've got an incomplete thought. You might not know what an adverb is, but you know what words to add to a verb to flavor it. You use these things everyday, just don't know what to call them. You can do some research on the web, there's lots of grammar resources that are a google link away.

    Or you know. Just call me.
    If you ever need a second set of eyes on your work, PM me for a critique! I'm happy to help Hidden Content

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Bishop View Post

    Or you know. Just call me.
    ^^^^ I'll take you up on that. And thanks for the explanations. I like knowing things.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Bishop View Post
    Or you know. Just call me.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lisa View Post
    ^^^^ I'll take you up on that. And thanks for the explanations. I like knowing things.
    Hah! That was more an ego joke, me pretending I know everything But do so! I'll be happy to help with anything I know from my shiny English degree.
    If you ever need a second set of eyes on your work, PM me for a critique! I'm happy to help Hidden Content

  10. #10
    Lisa - Yes, I would recommend getting the latest editions. All of these are available at Amazon or directly from Oxford University Press. You will find these will give you the best guidance. Hart's Rules was originally written and continues to be used by the editors at OUP. You can't get a higher recommendation than that.

    I read through a copy of Strunk and White some years ago and found nothing useful. Everything there should be covered in any first form language arts class. However, if you find it useful, then by all means use it.
    El día ha sido bueno. La noche será larga.

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