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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

About These Grammar Lessons . . .

I am a freelance copy editor for a large New York City publishing house and have been for more than three years and one-hundred-and-three manuscripts.  I have grown in my knowledge with almost each project because there are over a gazillion possible sentence constructions which stretch the application of the grammar rules as set forth in the nearly one-thousand-page Chicago Manual of Style aka the CMS.

So if my lessons within this blog post seem rudimentary, they are.  In my decades of reading books, I've found wonderful stories that were marred by simple words being misspelled or the failure to get across a thought or the meaning within its sentences that led to reader confusion.  Each detracts from the pure beauty of the storytelling.

A couple points come to mind at this juncture.  One, I believe it was Michael Jordan who practiced the basics of basketball for hours, even after he was setting new records in the sport.  Two, I read somewhere that our writing (whether commercial or corporate, I do not remember) should be addressed to an eighth-grade comprehension level.  That's sad in my opinion.  How true it is, I do not know.   But both of these examples show the need to look at the basics of our communication.

Thus my recent grammar lessons.

Plus, we have a flux of Indie-publishing authors and I want to simplify our complex grammar rules for them.  Hey, if I had had someone who could reduce the 956-page CMS to the usable nuts and bolts, I would have loved it!  I've learned through copyediting, which sees the minute details, amid a novel's story world, which sees the big picture.  Those little things help explain the larger message for a particular piece of fiction.  That is where I began to notice things that were not necessarily spelled out within the rules but were put into practice each time.

It is all about communication.  Getting the author's thoughts down into words which convey the right mental image within their reader's mind.  It is harder than you think.  Telling someone seems so much easier, what with our hand gestures, our facial expressions, our tone of voice, a laugh here and there.  Translating that to paper is tough, as any writer knows.

So maybe this is one of my life's purposes--to be able to encapsulate our convoluted English language setup so that it makes sense and is easy to remember and works within all those various reincarnations (those exceptions I mentioned above).  To make what may seem dull and boring, and with so many rules, into something fun and interesting and understandable.  To share my love of words and my love of the written word with others.  That is my goal.

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