The Rule 1
Honestly, I hated studying grammar in school. Diagramming sentences was barely a notch above “petition parents for earlier bedtime” in my list of things that sounded like fun. To this day, I can’t spell. I can’t. Seriously, I’ve already misspelled words typing this post. Were it not for spellcheck, I’d be screwed.

That said, there are elements of punctuation and grammar that a decent write must know. Take the quote above, for example. Exclamation marks are very rarely needed. Use them (and italics, while we’re at it) sparingly. Commas are a different matter. Comma splicing is a novice mistake and should be avoided, but a proficient writer can (in my opinion) use commas with only loosely defined rules. I use a comma when I want the reader to pause. If I don’t want you to pause while reading, I don’t use one. Sometimes that means my sentences are “grammatically incorrect”, but that’s okay.

Again, that’s my opinion. The opinion, I’ll remind you, of an unpublished writer and avid reader. Your mileage may vary.

I will say this, though: I think every writer should know grammar. Know the rules, even the ones you intend to break. Know when it’s okay to break them (in dialogue, for example) and when it’s not. (Never, ever send a submission letter that includes bad grammar.) For God’s sake, know the difference between “it’s” and “its” (and their/they’re/there), even if you occasionally use the wrong word. (Not that I do that…) In the age of the internet, you have no excuse. Any grammar question you could possibly have is a Google search away.

You wouldn’t take a surgeon seriously if he didn’t know the names of every organ in the body. A lawyer with little-to-no knowledge of the law would be a laughing stock. There’s not a lot of demand for professional drivers who don’t know the rules of the road.

If you want to be taken seriously as a writer, know your grammar.


About Ash Martin
Ash Martin writes dark fantasy and horror, has a thing for classic monster legends, Nordic mythology, coffee, and sarcasm, and is currently working on multiple books.

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