Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Grammar Gurus

Hello readers, Annette here. Today’s post in our Why We Need Editors series is more about the mechanics of writing.

Grammar Gurus
Why We Need Editors Series
Net's Notations Tuesdays

What is that word I’m thinking of? Ever notice how some words just sound alike: like anecdote and antidote? or unanimous and anonymous? or ancillary and auxiliary? Or spelled similarly, but do not sound alike: prophecy and prophesy. When a writer sits down to write, they may mistakenly choose the wrong word, based more on having heard it than seeing it. Homonyms only add to the possible confusion: days/daze/dais, faze/phase, conceited/conceded, teem/team, etc. Editors make it their business to know these, or find a resource to track them down.


What about clich├ęs? First off, we writers should avoid them (except in dialog and even then, tread carefully). What if the phrase you’re thinking of doesn’t look how you think? Like when you’re talking about getting control of an unruly group of toddlers, you’d say “reign them in,” right? As in, take charge like a king. Nope. The right word is rein. (as in a horse’s reins) Or when you’re adding up a group of numbers to demonstrate a point, you’d say “all tolled, they added up to a real need.” Nope. All told is correct for that phrase. What about saying something is "teaming with life?" Teeming is the correct word.


Editors love words and believe it or not, grammar too. Well, to some extent. *wink* We analyze words and phrases, tracking back colloquialisms until we know how they’re really meant to be written. Please look these up for yourself, but if you’re in doubt, the editor’s got your back.


It’s one thing to know what you want to say, it’s another to know how to present it. Phrases within phrases—which is part of our discussion on grammar—can be difficult to know how to punctuate. See that? I just demonstrated what I meant. Editors develop a sort of filter. We know how punctuation should appear in dialog, for example, and our gaze snags on a section that is incorrect. I know one person who can catch an extra space at the beginning of a paragraph. Did you catch it here?


No one is perfect. No human. No editor. Any editor who tells you they’re perfect is in denial. *grin* We’ll give you our best and hope for grace. Maybe just like you do when you give editors your work.

So, editors and writers are meant to be a great team. Editors are there to help you make the best possible impression with your words and themes. They’re there to give your work the polish it needs to be professional and impactful. They’re there to be your grammar guru.