August 15, 2013

Does Spelling Count?

It’s pretty instructive for a freelance writer to sit on the other side of the table – the side that receives the manuscript submissions. I’ve had a chance to do this as a reader for the Pushcart Prize, as a reader for a literary press, and as a judge of a national fiction contest. As I said: instructive.

When a liquor box full of story submissions arrived on my doorstep, I begin to understand the old saying, “When an editor picks up a submission, what she is really looking for is a reason to stop reading.”

Submit a grammar glitch on the first page, and your chances for acceptance drop. The competition is stiff.  Every piece of writing we submit needs to be the best we can offer.

And yes — I hate to be the one to say it — the reality is: spelling counts. A lot. Grammar counts. Punctuation matters.  Even typos can torpedo a great work of art.

But what if you were absent the day they taught about the semi-colon? What if you can’t diagram a two-word sentence to save yourself?

Be of good cheer. Straw Dog is offering a two-part grammar workshop in November, taught by the amazing editor, Jean Zimmer. You won’t learn everything you need in these two evenings, but it will be a start. A great start, I think.  Grammar may not be the most fun you can have as a writer, but knowing the rules really helps you on your way.


For details and registration for this great course, go here.


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