Why You Need Good Grammar in Your Stories
You’ve probably heard people say that you need good grammar before. They’ll read your story and point out the smallest errors and that can leave you angry or annoyed. Why does it even matter so much, anyway? If they know what you mean, why should they even care? You’re only human, after all. You’re going to make mistakes! And of all the things they could focus on, they choose the thing that seems to have nothing to do with the story. Believe me! I get where you’re coming from! So why would you need good grammar in your stories so bad?
I understand how tempting it can be to just type away and hope your ideas make up for the language. You have some good points to make, but you just don’t have the language skills to show it yet. Why should you have to limit your imagination just because you aren’t a grammar expert? It does kinda seem like other writers are just being elitist from the outside. I mean, they don’t seem to care if you have the best story idea in the world! Ugh.
Well, there is a good reason why people say what they do. In fact, there are many good reasons! Who doesn’t want to read a well-written story, after all? Stories aren’t just good ideas written down on scraps of paper. It takes care to write well, and that’s what a lot of readers are looking for.
Still not sure? Well, here are some reasons why you need good grammar in your stories.
Grammar is Easy to Fix
Good grammar can seem like a lot of hard work. Back in the day, it would have been, for sure! Now, though? We don’t really have any excuses. There are so many things that we can rely on to help us improve our grammar. We have the internet on our side, so you can always google a word or term you don’t understand. There are forums and sites dedicated to grammar issues with people who are always happy to help. Plus, Microsoft Word has a very simple grammar checker built in.
Fixing your grammar is one of the easiest ways to improve the quality of your story. There are many things that might turn a reader off, but most of them are subjective. Some people don’t like bad boys while other people won’t read anything else. Some people care about bad representation while others don’t. Not all of your readers are going to agree on what makes your story worth reading. The only thing they are going to agree with is whether your story has good grammar or not. There’s nowhere near as much debate about that.
This is one of the only things in writing where there’s usually a right and wrong answer. It’s a lot easier to point out bad grammar than a bad story! And you can very easily fix the issues you have so that people enjoy reading your story more. So why wouldn’t you? It would make your story 100x better in a very short amount of time.
Here are some of my top picks to help you get that grammar up to scratch.
If you’re looking for top-quality grammar help, it’s a good idea to find an app that suits you. A good grammar app will take the hard work out of getting your story up to scratch! You can just type away and the app will be working in the background, sorting you our and giving you some great suggestions.
That’s why I recommend Grammarly for your stories. It’s the best grammar checker I’ve found so far — and it’s free! It works with Wattpad, Microsoft Word and most other writing apps. Plus, it integrates with pretty much all web browsers so sorting your grammar can be as stress-free as possible. There are so many extra features, too! If you can afford to splash the cash a little, it’s worth getting the premium version. It also gives you vocab suggestions and checks the internet to see if your work is too similar to things other people have written.
If you’re really savvy, you can use Grammarly to become a grammar expert yourself. You see, the app doesn’t just give you a red squiggly line and a vague explanation like Word. Instead, the grammar hints they give you are detailed and easy to understand. You get weekly emails that tell you what mistakes you make the most, which can clear up the worst of your grammar errors. There’s also a blog and a handbook that you can check out if you’re really confused! If you make sure to pay attention to the info you get, you’ll stop making the same mistakes in no time! They do most of the work for you. You just need to be patient and willing to put in the effort to perfect your English.
Of course, Grammarly is still going to be the best bet for you if you are new to the whole good grammar thing. I mean, nothing beats tips that appear when you need them and are catered to you. Still, Grammar Girl is great if you’re just looking for a quick, simple and user-friendly explanation for a grammar point or two.
Grammar Girl focuses on answering those FAQs we all have about grammar. That’s what makes it such a good resource! As well as being able to easily find the answers you’re looking for, you’ll also find stuff you didn’t even know you wanted to understand! I know that some grammar points can be really hard to get the hang of. I mean, most of the stuff out there is just so… hard to get the hang of. They use all of these big words and you end up having to look up even more stuff! The aim of Grammar Girl is to get rid of that confusion. It’s a great intro to grammar because the creator makes all of her stuff normal people in mind.
It’s available as a podcast and there are some really helpful resources on the website. If you’re looking for something that will always be with you, though, there’s also a great book with all the most important tips and tricks to get you on the right track with your grammar.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t really have a problem with verbs or nouns or if I should use “their”, “they’re” or “there”. I mean, sure I still have some issues. “Whom” always sounds wrong to me, no matter where I use it in a sentence! But still. My main issue is with punctuation. Semi-colons are the death of me! And don’t even get me started on what kind of speech marks I should use!
That’s where a good style guide comes in handy. You see, the main point of having a style guide is to tell you how to put your words onto the page. Most people are going to understand what I’m saying whether I use a semi-colon properly or not. Why not get it right, though? Why not sort my style out so that it’s consistent and my work looks good?
When you’re writing on an app like Wattpad, it looks really sloppy if you keep changing the way you write certain things. Not many people are going to notice that you don’t know what you’re doing with your punctuation if you stick to it. It’s when you start changing it up all the time that it gets obvious.
So if you get one style guide and stick to it, you’re going to look a lot better even if you do make a mistake or two. I’ve mentioned this in another blog post, but I think the New Oxford Style Manual is one of the best style guides out there. It gives you all the tools you need to get your written word looking amazing on the page.
Bad Grammar Looks Lazy
Thanks to the fact that it’s so easy to get help with your grammar, it looks really lazy when you don’t try. I mean, all you need to do is download Grammarly and accept the suggestions it makes! It really doesn’t take too much effort on your side. So if you aren’t willing to do that, why should anyone read your story? If you don’t care enough about your story to get help with your grammar, why should readers care about what’s happening? You should love your story more than your readers do, and giving it the best is a great way to show that.
If the author of a story told you that it was bad and you shouldn’t read it, would you invest in the story? Sure, there are stories out there that are known for being bad, but they’re not taken seriously. They’re either written to be funny on purpose or readers turn the story into a joke all on their own. The bad grammar is part of what makes them so funny! There’s a really bad, really mature Harry Potter fanfiction out there called My Immortal that people laugh at for being terrible and, ridiculous characterisation and plot aside, part of the joke is the fact that the writer can barely string a sentence together. I don’t know if it’s done on purpose or not, but it is hilarious.
I don’t mean random errors here. We all make mistakes and no grammar checker is 100% perfect! No one in the world knows everything there is to know about grammar. Plus, even the people who have studied it for years can make typos. You just need to make sure that you get the basics right. The rest is fine!
You Could Confuse Readers
Some grammar errors just make me roll my eyes and close the story. Others make me very, very confused. You’ve probably seen the meme about the difference between “let’s eat grandpa” and “let’s eat, grandpa” before. It might seem like a joke, but bad grammar can confuse people that much! We use words to help people understand us properly. If we don’t use the right words, people aren’t going to come to the right conclusions.
At the mild end of the spectrum, people will have to re-read your sentence a few times or get what you mean by context. Ok. We all have a few of those errors here and there. In fact, a long, complicated sentence can make people confused even if it’s grammatically correct! On the more extreme end, your work is going to look like a mess of random words that don’t make sense at all. If it makes no sense, it doesn’t matter how good the story’s plot No one’s going to be able to understand it to enjoy it. They aren’t going to want to read a story like that, so you’re missing out on all of those readers. You’ll spend your time writing something that no one will pay attention to.
What’s the point of that? Why would you waste all of that time and effort on a great plot if it’s not going to make sense to anyone but you? I mean, if you’re only writing for yourself, then fine. Maybe stick to a diary or something. But if you want even one person to read your work, it’s time to check your grammar and make sure that what you’re saying makes sense.
Your Story Should be Fun to Read
Stories are more than just good ideas thrown onto a page. A story is about
I know that it’s tempting to just blurt out your best ideas, but you’re not doing yourself any favours. A good idea is nothing if people don’t understand it or it’s a chore to read. Bad grammar can force readers to spend way too much time and effort on your story. Where’s the fun in that? After all, the main point of your writing should be for people to enjoy themselves.
No, I don’t mean that every single moment has to be happy. Most book readers love a good sad or tense moment. It’s cathartic! Or in other words, it’s a nice way for you to vent all of those pent up emotions. But it should be a good experience for the reader no matter what emotion you’re trying to make them feel. They should feel confused about the plot and the events in the story, not by the language you use to describe the simple things.
If you love your story and you want it to do well, you should treat it like you care. Treat it like it’s the best thing in the world and it deserves good grammar. If you treat the story like it deserves the best, it’s going to be a hell of a lot more fun to read.
It Forces You to Edit
No one expects your grammar to be perfect in the first draft. That would be silly! The first draft of your writing should be about getting all of those good ideas down onto paper and ordering all of the plot points in the best way you can. Of course, if you’re thinking more about getting the plot right, the grammar is naturally going to take a back seat. That’s fine! In fact, that’s how it is for most writers. The important thing is that you go back and sort that grammar out. Now that the story makes sense to you, it’s time for you to edit so that your readers can make sense of your ideas, too!
The good thing about thinking about focussing on your grammar is that it will force you to look back over your work and make it sound better. Sure, you’re going to be looking at the grammar in your second draft, but that’s not the only thing that drafting will help with! Sometimes you look back at your work and come up with great ideas later. Other times, you realise that the grammar doesn’t quite work and you’re forced to rewrite a whole section for the better. It’s tempting to just finish a piece of work and get it out there as soon as you can, but if you take the time to redraft, you’ll often find even better ways to turn your great ideas into great stories.
Good Grammar Sets You Apart
There are hundreds of things readers could be clicking on when they’re looking for a story. What makes yours worth reading? You aren’t owed reads, so you need to make reading your story worthwhile. How are you going to stand out when the internet is so full of other writers trying to catch people’s attentions? Well, grammar is a great place to start!
You’re not the only one who’s wondering why you should even bother to brush up on your grammar. In fact, lots of
There are so many writers out there who don’t bother or care about their grammar. It’s gotten to the point where it’s actually a relief to find a story that’s written well! Taking the time to get your story right will make you stand out. If you stand out, you’re going to get a lot more reads.
So if you weren’t sure you needed good grammar before, I hope you’ve changed your mind. I know that it takes time and effort, but if you stop and give it a chance, your story is going to be so much better. There’s really no reason why you shouldn’t spend some time on the grammar.
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