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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Bad Grammar and Typos

Some self-published books are so full of grammar mistakes and typos that you can't get into an otherwise great story.

This is perhaps the easiest thing to fix for self-publishers.

Hire an editor!

Not your mom. Not your best friend. A real life editor.

It's going to cost money, but will be so worth it in the end.

Let's look at some examples of bad grammar. See if you can catch the mistakes.

Verb Tense Mistakes--
1. I go to church and sang in the choir.
2. I love to drink mild and ate chocolate cake.

Subject/Verb Mistakes--
3. Jesse and Heather is going to the movies on Friday.
4. I likes my puppy.

Noun/Pronoun Mistakes--
5. Maddie and Kennedy forgot her lunch money.
6. Everyone forgot their jacket.

Double Negatives--
7. He couldn't hardly believe she left him.
8. I never wanted none of your lies.

Some people have problems with fragments and run-on sentences. Although I agree they should be used carefully, I'm a big fan of fragments for driving home something with punch. Plus, inside my mind are lots of fragments and tremendously long run-on sentences. :) It's natural...sometimes.

Okay, were those examples really easy to catch?

Of course they were. Those were not your sentences or part of the story that's been taking up room in your head for the last few months. You were looking for mistakes. Some people can train themselves to self edit their own work. I am NOT one of those. When I reread my story I often skim through. I'll never catch all the little mistakes or typos.

Quick word on typos:
Most of my typos come from moving paragraphs or sentences around by cut and paste. Sometimes a word is left behind and it makes for a weird sentence. Other typos are from using the wrong spelling of a word--they're, there, their or to, too, etc.

When you hire an editor, they are coming in with fresh eyes and they know their job is to find the little mistakes.

Why are those little things so important? 

Because they throw your reader out of the story. You want each person reading your book to become immersed in the world and the problems of your characters. They don't want to remember they're reading words someone wrote. I know I don't. I want to escape reality for a couple of hours.

One or two little mistakes are not a big deal. But page after page of them will frustrate your reader and prevent them from forming the emotional connection needed to get lost in your book.

Questions for You:

Have you ever given up on a book because of bad grammar or typos?

Have you worked with an editor that you've loved? Please share their name and website in the comments!

I don't think I've ever quit reading a book simply because of grammar or typos, but those books rarely get more than 3 stars when I rate or review.

Two of my books were edited by Amie McCracken. I love, LOVE, love her! She has an amazing website that details the different types of edits available (if this post weren't so long I'd go over them). She is a professed lover of Indie authors and willing to work out pricing deals.

And one more because I couldn't resist. (Go to google and look up images for bad grammar for lots of laughs)
Other Links:
Grammar Girl
Daily Writing Tips
The Elements of Style
Common Errors in English Usage
English Grammar
Guide to Grammar and Writing


mshatch said...

Enough bad grammar mistakes will kill a book for me. Thankfully, grammar is not one my problems. Not that I don't make mistakes, but I usually catch most of them.

And I LOVE Amie McCracken! She edited West of Paradise and did a fabulous job.

Huntress said...

Just be sure and vet the prospective editor.
I paid one editor and found it mostly a waste of my money. Very disappointing.

Grammar and formatting don't bother me so much as a crummy, uninteresting storyline. That kills it for me every time.

Tyrean Martinson said...

It takes about ten to twenty grammar mistakes on a page to kill a story for me, and I have yet to read a book that didn't have at least one grammar mistake or typo somewhere in it. However, I do put books down if the plot goes nowhere, the characters don't develop, or the descriptions take a disgusting turn.

As a writing teacher, I can spot grammar mistakes in other writers' work but I still struggle with finding them in my own work. And, once I find them, I think I'm going to die a shame-filled death. There was this error on page 47 of my first book that was so bad that I had a hard time showing my face anywhere until I fixed it.

P V Ariel said...

Hi Charity,
Nice to be here today via G+
This is indeed an informative page
I could find some of my mistakes I often make, that is connected with it's and its thanks for the explanation and the other wonderful connected links. I am book marking it for my further study
Have a good day
Keep writing
~ Philip

dolorah said...

I am currently reading a very good book; intriguing world, interesting characters, beautifully drawn setting. But at only about page 30, there have been so many spelling, grammar and misused word issues that I already know the book will get a 4 star rating. A shame.

I have put books down in the past because of editing errors. If I cannot get into the story because of the issues, I don't even bother.

Angela Brown said...

Actually, I completed a novel published by one of the Big 6 but I ended up giving the book away because it was written with such a passive voice it made the read a disappointing experience.

Yvonne said...

Oh my gosh I LOVE this!!!

Liz A. said...

I have trouble with affect and effect...

I don't mind an error here or there, but when it becomes clear that no one edited the book, I can't take it seriously. There was the one where the author used "hear" instead of "here" repeatedly...

Janie Junebug said...

I love to drink mild, too. I am an editor.