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Grammar? Who in the heck needs it, anyway?

Grammar...without it, the language unravels!

Grammar. What in the world is it? You certainly can't see it, touch, smell or taste it. But you hear it, and the worse it is, the more of it you seem to hear! Bad grammar is at the root of a lot of jokes. When spoken language goes ridiculously wrong, humor of the unintentional kind won't be far behind.

On the other hand, good grammar is one of a small handful of factors which have, for centuries, set the aristocracy apart from the rest of mankind. Not long ago, only the sons of rich men could go to school. Many were taught by monks ... girls were rarely taught at all. Literacy was the privilege of the wealthy and scholarly. Grammar — being the framework on which every word we speak is hung — was one of the qualities peculiar to ladies and gentlemen, because only they were given the opportunity to learn it.

Like anything else that is rare, proper language, good grammar, soon became a status symbol. You could be shabby, not own a horse, much less a piece of land, but so long as you spoke well, the classes of the nobility would accept you into their ranks. You were 'people like us,' or PLU. It was an elite club, where the entry card was your ability to use the language properly. And it all begins with grammar.

In movies, we get a big laugh out of the "local yokel." In the street, face to face with friends and acquaintances, we tend to overlook lapses in grammar. The spoken word is gone in a heartbeat; who remembers? But what a writer commits to paper achieves a kind of immortality...

In other words, your booboos will come back to haunt you! As an aspiring writer, you have one big goal: to impress the heck out of editors, agents and publishers. If you can impress them enough, they'll publish your work, and you'll earn. Eventually, you'll earn enough to give up the day job and write for a living.

One of the criteria on which you'll be judged — on page one of your submission! — is your grammar. You can't afford to make any, or many mistakes. If your creativity is "off the scale," you'll be forgiven for the odd lapse here and there; an editor will straighten out a few mistakes in grammar. However, if you make too many of these lapses, the editor, agent or publisher won't keep on reading your manuscript for long enough to discover how brilliant your fiction really is.

There is only one solution to this problem. Good grammar. Either learn it yourself, or recruit your friends (if you do conscript friends, make very sure they know what they're doing ... if they don't, the manuscript will simply be full of their errors, instead of yours). The third option is to pay for professional editing, and although you can certainly do this, please do read our caution, on the freelance editing page. Of you haven't yet read it, go there and scan it now ... this page will be here when you come back!

For the purpose of this page, then, we'll assume you've made the commitment to being the consummate professional. It's not a five-minute journey from "wannabe" to "best-seller," but the trip can be a lot of fun. No one ever said any of it had to be boring.

So: you're on this page to get a stranglehold on the gentle art of grammar. Right? Right.

In that case, let's grab the fundamentals and throttle them!

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Correct Grammar: a framework to which everything else is pegged

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