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Thread: Choice of improving

  1. #1

    Choice of improving

    Iíve had advice that falls into two basic groups:

    A)Perfect spelling, grammar and punctuation is your only concern. No story can survive without it.


    B) Story trumps all. A good story can have its technical issues corrected. Adding spice to the meal after itís cooked is hard.

    Iím not implying that these arenít important but where should I spend my time? A note about me, SP&G is not very good.
    Illegitimi non carborundum 'Vinegar' Joe Stilwell
    What you learn in life is important, those you help learn, are more important.

  2. #2
    Both SPaG and story are important. Typos, poor grammar, etc make an author look like an amateur. Flat characters do the same, though some get away with it somewhat. Boring or unbelievable / inconsistent story, kills it, in my opinion.

    Having said that, there's a time and place for everything. Story and characters are most important during the draft/editing phases. At the end, SPaG is most important. Sending off or publishing a manuscript with SPaG issues is pretty deadly to your career.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Pelwrah View Post
    I’ve had advice that falls into two basic groups:

    A)Perfect spelling, grammar and punctuation is your only concern. No story can survive without it.


    B) Story trumps all. A good story can have its technical issues corrected. Adding spice to the meal after it’s cooked is hard.

    I’m not implying that these aren’t important but where should I spend my time? A note about me, SP&G is not very good.
    I'm always trying to improve my SPaG. Even when posting here I try to use correct punctuation and (mostly) proper grammar. The same hold true when I work on my books and stories. I try to get the SPaG right from the jump, but I don't paralyze myself by obsessing about it. In the first draft story is king. In the second I'm looking for ways to strengthen, tighten, enhance the story. But, if I see SPaG issues during the rewrite, I don't hesitate to fix them. Later drafts are for the final polish in which the roles of story and SPaG get reversed. I'm most concerned with SPaG at that stage, but I'll fix any story issues that pop up. I wish I could be more like some writers on this site who can write pretty clean copy the first time through, but I'm not.
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  4. #4
    I think whenever you are asking someone to read your work, and provide a critique, you should do all you can to make it look professional before you even submit it. Poor SP&G is very distracting and sometimes it makes it difficult to even determine what the story is about. My downfall is tense, so I am really grateful when someone points it out to me when I slip up. Anyway, take your time with your work. When I write, I usually go full steam on the story line, and then go back and re-read to find all the errors. I don't think you can do both at the same time. Good luck and keep on with it. Develop your style and technique and before you know it, you will be telling another newbie how it's done.
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  5. #5
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    I think probably both. Me personally, I edit as I go because the style is a major part of it; plot can (mine can, at any rate) be summed up by synopsis, or a few lines' worth of chapter summaries, or is subject to change etc., and when I reread a section, as I do before writing the next bit, I need to be taken back into the voice in order to continue, and poor SPaG would compromise that. So both - but which one you do first depends on individual preference, in my view.




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  6. #6
    Thanks all for your comments. I obsess with SP&G because I'm so bad. A high school English teacher said I was close to a functional illiterate with my grammar skill. I know my SP&G detracts from my stories, makes them less appealing and even terrible. It clouds and hides the story.
    My two editor friends argue about. One says give me a very good story and I'll have it edited, the talent to write a story is a talent not a skill. My other editor friend disagrees. I see both sides and try to walk the border between them.
    Illegitimi non carborundum 'Vinegar' Joe Stilwell
    What you learn in life is important, those you help learn, are more important.

  7. #7
    I don't see poor SPaG in your posts, so it can't be too bad.

    Let me tell you a piece of advice I was given here. You won't be a writer if you spend all your time hanging out and talking about writing. You have to write. That's paraphrased, but close to the actual words.

    Don't let your friends get you down. Write.

  8. #8
    Even if a story is good, multiple SPaG errors jolt me out of it. Even finished copies occasionally arrive with one or two that aren't picked up.
    My SPaG is pretty reasonable at the first attempt so I guess I'm one of the lucky ones (comma Nazism excepted). However, it's far easier to fix SPaG than to fix plot holes in a story. So I would suggest focusing on the stories and ask for help with the SPaG once it's complete.
    Last edited by Phil Istine; November 16th, 2017 at 08:55 AM.


  9. #9
    It's a combination of both.

    A good story is only as good as the framework holding it up, and good writing means nothing if there's no story behind it.
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  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    It's a combination of both.

    A good story is only as good as the framework holding it up, and good writing means nothing if there's no story behind it.

    I disagree with this analogy. You are implying the writing is the framework, whereas I feel the story is the structure of a house. The writing is the paint and shingles.

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