Reflection: Spelling and Grammar

What kind of person would I be to reflect weekly on the different aspects of my writing and never touch on the basic conventions of writing?  The thing is, basic conventions like spelling and grammar are important to make the story look good, yet I have run across too many books, stories, and articles that contain some noticeable spelling and grammar errors.

The thing about spelling and grammar is that most of the time, such errors don’t take away from the meaning of the sentence.  In the case of spelling, the human mind can actually comprehend words if the letters are completely scrambled, so long as the first and the last letters are in place.  Don’t believe me?  Try reading one of the passages on the left column of this Wikipedia page.

But spelling and obvious grammar errors make a piece look unprofessional.  If a reader catches one, it can distract them from the story.  It makes the writer look less competent, especially in a day and age where we have automatic spell checkers.

Yes, I always run spell check, or at least check the colored underlines that appear as I write.  Grammar check is important too, but I don’t blindly accept changes that automatic grammar checkers make.  They make lots of mistakes.  There are some grammar “errors” that should just be ignored.  Plus, there are a lot of different grammatical errors that they just aren’t programmed to pick up.

And even spell check misses some things.  If you misspell a word, but the word you misspell is another valid word, spell check won’t catch it.  You can accidentally add an extra “t” to the end of “but” and never catch your embarrassing mistake.  Pay attention.

Me, I’m thankful that I’ve always been pretty good with spelling.  But despite that, I always double-check my spelling and grammar.  I fix typos the moment I notice them.

Also, many people don’t know this, but Microsoft Word actually has a limit as to how many misspelled words and grammatical errors it can keep track of in the document.  If you make too many errors, you get a message box, and the red and blue underlines stop appearing.  If this happen, it can become more difficult to proofread your work.

I reached the limit in the Swogprille stories.  This was because they’re fantasy stories, and like many works of the genre, contain a lot of made-up words, including the (very frequently used) main protagonists’ names.  However, usually, the limit is so high that it takes a lot to reach it.  You’d have to be pretty careless with the spelling and grammar to get that far, but it’s not impossible to get there.

Spelling and grammar should never be ignored.  However, unlike with a fiction writer who lacks imagination and creativity, if you’re a writer who just happens to be a bad speller, or has some serious issues with grammar, there is hope for you.  When you share the story for that all-important feedback, the reader will surely notice some of your errors.  You can also hire an editor (probably a good idea even if you’re a good speller).

Anyway, I think I’ve written enough for today.  White Rakogis, signing off.

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