Specifically, any advice for future novelists with issues spelling. I would love to become a writer, but don't know where to begin or how to get my ideas on to paper. I decided that instead of just helping, I would also try to help others in the same boat I am, minus the spelling part, by making my question into a forum. I could really use some advice.
I also seem to have issues with grammar, too. I ment to say, "I decided that instead of just helping MYSELF, I would also try to help others in the same boat I am..." My bad.
Relax. You can edit your posts, by the way. I sent you an email. Welcome to HubPages!
I started my journey towards becoming a novelist by writing just for the love of it. I wrote a couple of novels and sent them out, started collecting rejection letters. Then, I, like you seem to have, finally began to realize my grammar and style needed work on the technical level if I ever wanted to get past the "writing just for the love of it" part. So, I did that. You can too. If you know you have a problem, aggressively fix it.
The most useful thing, by far, that I did was took a grammar class at a college. If you have access to a school and can take a class, do it. If not, get a BASICS of grammar book and read every word and do every single thing, every single exercise in it. Start from scratch. Like literally go back to the basic parts of speech and rudiments of punctuation.
I know that it can be hard for someone who likes to write to go do a basics class, or read a basics book, because there's so much we "already know." But what you do know will be reinforced by covering it again, and what you don't know (or forgot), you can't possibly realize you don't know or forgot, by the very nature of what it means to not know something or to have forgotten it.
So start there. If you're finding a book, make damn sure it is an old-school type book that covers sentence diagramming. The "new order" in education threw that baby out with the bathwater, and whole scads of people can't write a lick now because of it.
I ended up staying with school and got two degrees, took lots of really fancy writing classes with some really interesting professors who learned from even fancier writers. I've done workshops. Lots of stuff. Tons. And I can tell you, nothing had a greater single and immediate impact than that grammar class.
Hope this helps, and welcome to HP.
I like how shadesbreath put it: "I started my journey towards becoming a novelist by writing just for the love of it." I think you have to get ready to enjoy the journey when you start to write a novel. I know my own personal journey in writing a novel has been an adventure.
I think if you love to write and are willing to learn...and you are ready to finish what you started...then you are on your way to producing that novel which is inside of you. Shoot...it is one of the most basic things to start at first. All it takes is some ink and paper...or a computer and some toner...and you are on your way (through the first part). Then, comes getting it right...proofreading...editing...and if you're ready...displaying your manuscript to the outside world. It is a journey...for sure!
So here's the thing. There are several aspects to becoming a novelist. Firstly, talent. It's a big one. Secondly, if you don't write grammatically, forget it. Editors (I used to be one for two publishers in the UK) don't read beyond the first paragraph if they spot basic grammatical errors, and if your writing doesn't flow, they don't read further than the first page.
Flow is learnt through assimilating it from reading extensively in the early years.
I have written a blog called 'The Spice of Writing." My intent was to help emerging writers. Every single word of those blogs are written for people who want to write well. It's not the stuff they teach you in creative writing classes, but it is the stuff you need in order to write well.
I wish you well on your journey.
Can you give an example of things that pertain to writing well that they don't teach in creative writing classes?
That was taught in my classes, maybe the University of Wales has something going for it after all !!!
How is that ebook with the fantastic cover doing ?
Hmmm. I would argue they definitely teach those in creative writing classes. Obviously it depends which class, and what the focus of the class is, the level/quality of the class, etc., but good programs will hit that for sure, because, as you point out, they are essential. Now, some writers are not to the point where they have enough control of language to worry about that sort of thing just yet, so if that's what you mean, I would agree. Some classes don't.
I think any creative writing class can teach what voice is but you still need to learn how to put your own voice into what you right. Mimicking the voice of another writer is almost as easy as just plagiarism. So your both right. Creative writing can teach voice but they can't teach you your voice.
I think voice comes partially from reading. Part of it is innate- it's your personality reflected in your writing, just as your personality may dictate the way you say something verbally. The other part of voice comes from a life of reading other author's works. I think you adopt the way other people write and incorporate different bits and styles into your own words without realizing it. People who have a great writing voice tend to be lifelong readers.
Creative writing can help you learn how to find and utilize your voice, which is crucial.
Shanna 11. Voice (and rhythm) are learnt the same that a child learns language. Just as one can immediately spot when someone isn't a native speaker of a language, so a reader can immediately spot a write who simply can't write. You're right that voice (and rhythm) is learnt from reading - specifically reading at least a book a week from the ages through 7 to 16.
While a professor can tell you that one needs a good voice, and that voice is needed for writing, it is,indeed, doubtful that a professor can teach one. At a certain point, one either has it or one doesn't. That is just the certain way that one either has a natural ear for languages or one doesn't. Mostly, though, if one hasn't learnt to speak a language from birth, for ever aftewards, one speaks with some sort of accent and one misses the natural flow of the language. That is the same with writing.
Also, of course, it is a talent. Talent's are innate. It means that one is born with the ability to find something easy with very little learning attached to it.
Well, I have been to quite a few writing classes (just to get extra credits) and it was never mentioned. More to the point, none of the professors had every been a commercial fiction success.
I am going to bow out of this because I will offend. I don't want to argue about it. It will just get nasty. I don't like nastiness.
I wanted to help. I don't care if you don't believe me.
It wasn't an attack, so no nastiness required. I only made an observation from a different perspective and set of experiences. I think it's valuable to talk about the elements of craft, and you brought up a great point. In fact, if the professors you encountered didn't mention voice in any of the classes, perhaps that explains the lack of commercial success? (Although, to be fair to them--I have no idea who your professors were--a massive chunk of the greatest writers of all time suffered the same financial fate, so... maybe that isn't evidence of anything at all. lol.)
Anyway, you don't have to run off. Besides, I don't offend very easily. I'm wrong often enough to be used to being proven so by now, and I can't fancy you meant you're going to have a hissy fit and call me names, so I'm confident that no offense will be too easily made.
Don't let issues with technical stuff like spelling thwart your creativity. God created editors so writers can get on with what's in their hearts. Some close support from peers would help you get your ideas on paper. Check with your local library for a writing group to join. When my library didn't offer one, I suggested starting one. Three years later my group is thriving, with a waiting list of writers eager to join. The support is constructive and nurturing, and two of the members are seeking publication for finished books. Best of luck to you!
However, my understanding is that editors aren't professional spell checkers and most would be insulted to be thought of as such. Going to an editor with a manuscript rife with spelling errors would be like hiring an interior designer when your house doesn't even have a roof yet.
That is true. The editor would probably return the manuscript along with some suggestions. Working as an editor, I can even attest to that long manuscript requiring more than 10% edits are nearly impossible to edit. So if time permits, it is better to ask the author to do more.
You take me too literally. Of course you should spellcheck a doc before submitting it anywhere. However, I was trying to emphasize that you should not let a fear of correct spelling keep you from writing. If we let fear or insecurity guide our choices we would never accomplish anything.
Natalie Sack. Your English professors misled you. Editors are not there to pick up spelling mistakes and poor writing. Editors reject writing like that. Editors are there to carry out the business of of a publishing company. Commissioning editors are there to select which books are to be published (and they don't select ones with grammatical errors). Sub editors in newspapers are there to ensure that the style of the newspaper is kept to. Copy editors at a publishing house do the layout, check for legal issues, and structure, etc. Editors do NOT check spelling and grammar. You're confusing that with the Microsoft Word Edit tool.
You might also be interested in some statistics. Fewer than .03% of Americans have ever been published. There's a reason for that. Ninety five per cent of Americans can't write a grammatical sentence. This is not my opinion, but research conducted in California a few years ago. Actually, it was that 95% of students at four year universities couldn't write a grammatical sentence. In addition, if you go to the literacy sites for America, you will discover that 90% can't read (or write) beyond a Grade 8 standard, and about half the country suffer from semi-literacy.
Writing novels and books not only means that one is highly skilled at grammar, it means that one has the raw talent to write (and talent is genetic, inherited, innate. It cannot be taught), and the talent has been honed at an early stage through extensive reading. That's at least one book a week for more than a decade.
With all due respect, I think there is a misunderstanding. I think we are talking about two different types of editors here, namely those working for publishing companies and those working as freelance editors for paying clients.
Website Examiner, well, I guess it's a new breed of editor - a result of the dismal education in language these days. That said, you are right. However, I got the impression from Natalie's post, that she meant the editors at the place where the work was being submitted to.
However, let me ask you a question. If you call yourself a writer and you don't know grammar, how do you know that the editor you hire knows grammar. I can assure you I have seen books, supposedly edited by these 'editors,' and they should go back to school.
Sophia Angelique, such as writer should inquire about the editor's credentials and experience. A professional reputation is not easily built, and even a quick Internet search will probably reveal if an editor has acquired a bad reputation.
Website Examiner. All that is required to have a good reputation in America is money and hype. It has nothing to do with skill. I have seen people with a Ph.D who are semi-literate. They get employed at newspapers and magazines because people (wrongfully) assume that they know how to write.
I keep reading American books and I find some of the English horrifying. That's because the editors don't know grammar either. The only way a writer can know if the grammar is correct is if the writer knows the rules.
I spoke to the editor of a major TV station some years ago and asked him why Human Resources kept wanting journalism and English degrees because the fact that one had these degrees was no indication that someone could write. He told me that editors still did it the old fashioned way. They looked at the writing of the person. People in HR generally don't know good writing so they use a degree as a measuring stick.
I would advocate with all my heart and soul that people who want to make writing their profession take a year of their lives and go back to school and learn every bit of grammar they can. It's an investment they will never regret.
I also know quite a few producers. Apparently, 99 out of 100 screenplays are never read beyond the first page. Why? Because there are grammatical errors on the first page. And, yes, these screenplays have been submitted by writers who had 'professional' editors go over their work.
Why do I say these things?
Because many people who wanted writing done in the past didn't want to pay my rate. They went for the cheaper rate. When I checked back, they had essentially wasted their money because neither editor nor writers they had hired could write.
Essentially, there is only one way to be certain of your writing, and that is to know the grammar yourself. Also, an editor that is good enough to be able to edit taking rhythm and voice into consideration has no need to edit someone else's work.
Okay, here's the deal: My comment on editors was just an opening line. My main focus was to give Austin Dawursk, who actually posted the question, a shot in the arm. And by that I mean a boost, some confidence, reassurance, etc. (before you all tell me the dangers of hypodermic injections). I was simply saying that at this point Austin should not be concerned with spelling. Austin should write, if that's where his heart is. I appreciate how knowledgeable and willing to contribute everyone is here, but is I think we should stick to the answering the original question.
In your previous post, you said: "Don't let issues with technical stuff like spelling thwart your creativity."
In my opinion, she should be concerned with spelling and grammar at this point, but not let that discourage her from being creative.
Natalie, I understand that that is what you did. Only I think it's misguided. One doesn't tell someone that something is okay when it's not. What one says is,
"Learn every bit of grammar you can because it is essential for you to learn it. Spending a year or two learning the craft will greatly help you when you attempt the art." That is both encouraging and helpful.
There are far too many people out there who are investing tremendous effort in writing novels when it's equivalent to investing in a stock that's about to become worthless.
If one is going to spend one's life writing, then one makes very sure that one has the tools of the trade. I am absolutely emphatic that grammar and good spelling are essential, and that one never tells someone they don't matter. They absolutely do.
And one is not born knowing the tools of the trade. One develops by doing, not fretting over the technicalities. One runs the risk of wringing out all one's passion over "I before E except after C." So what if people are investing tremendous effort writing novels that won't be published because they spelled a word wrong? The value here is that they wrote a novel.
You are advocating the idea that people shouldn't do something until they have learned to it really, really well. Do you think Noah knew how to build an ark before he started? Did he stop to take class? Did Monet paint a valuable classic the first time he picked up a brush?
Grammar and good spelling are essential EVENTUALLY, not in the beginning when a person is simply contemplating what to do. Artists of all kinds need to give themselves permission to do really bad work in the beginning. It's how they get to the good work.
Natalie, I didn’t say that one was born knowing the tools of one’s trade. I said one had to learn the tools of one’s trade. You said that one shouldn’t worry about the tools of one’s trade because there were editors for that. Passion is highly overrated and very misleading. I don’t care how much one loves doing something, if one doesn’t have the talent and capacity to do it, while one might enjoy it, it is not going anywhere. It is not passion that makes one achieve something. It is excellence.
Grammar and good spelling are essential from the beginning. Artists get to do good work because they are talented, and they have honed their talent from an early age. They do not get to be successful artists because they gave themselves ‘permission to do bad work.’ ‘Artists’ who give themselves permission to do bad work are not artists. They are wannabes.
Actually, one doesn't become a writer. One is born a writer. That's it. All the research shows that.
Find books you like. Read them repeatedly. See how they are structured.
Bernard Cornwell, Terry Pratchett, Tom Clancy are all excellent at structuring a novel.
Then you have two choices. Either prepare a very detailed structure and colour it in or take a character and a situation and follow the situation you have created. Both are good.
If doing the second, think about your final chapter. I am cheating with a surprise 70th birthday lunch at the Golf Club where all the characters from the book appear and all the loose ends come together- and a few surprises.
I personally am not a great speller either and I find that spell check and grammar check really help me out. As for writing in general, I found that my professors at the University I attended really had great insight and advice for where to start in the writing field. I would suggest taking an intro to writing or creative writing class and your local Community College. Your professor should be able to suggest a good course of action.
your editor is worth their weight in gold and will become your greatest asset
You are probably aware yourself - given that you asked this question - of the chances of success as a novelist.
I can give you some info from the outside looking in, if it helps. Get yourself an agent. Literary agents exist to match authors with publishers and are likely to be a huge benefit to you if you can impress them with your work.
Literary agents are not teachers, they are promoters. Find a book or website in your locale detailing literary agents and be sure to pay attention to the type of material they promote and their submission requirements. I have known quite a few literary agents (as accidental colleagues, not promoters or employees) and what annoys them most is inappropriate material, especially where it is submitted to them in an inappropriate fashion.
Send the agent a respectful letter with a sample of your material only where it is requested/expected and expect to wait up to a month or two for a response of any type. If you want to know that the agent has received your material, send a self-addressed and postage paid postcard for the purpose.
Good luck in a very hard business!
Well i have started to work on it too ... but when i had wrote almost 30 pages ... (I was writing it in Ms Word) ... my comp hard disk went numb and now i don't want to start again but if someone can help me energize me with a little help, i can regenerate my inner love for English once again.
Message me to know about the topics i love to think and would probably write about.
I have horrible grammar and spelling skills, so I try to keep a dictionary/thesaurus by my desk. Like Shadesbreath mentioned, go back to the basics of grammar. I read a lot and am always trying to see how other people write. Welcome to HP! Good luck with your writing.
hmm...I wish i paid attention in highschool, but I would have forgotten anyway. lol I had two classes in college, and never thought i would be writing anything, but term papers. lol Hmm.....I think the more you write and read the better you get. I say this because I remember i didn't write as well after high school, and than for 15 years read lots of self help books christian books. Went back to college 8 years ago and just finished, and when the tested me to begin with I already wrote better from reading, so than after college even read more text books, but hard for me to transition from writing at school, to novel style. lol So it's a challenge switching from style of writing as well. I think just being on hubpages and writing something every day for a year you get better with everything. Maybe why they say when you're writing a novel, write every day for a few hours. lol I over do of course just because I am prolific. I do notice when I read though on hubpages some are natural born writers, and others struggle with it, I think if you read a lot of the hubs you get a feel for what is working well for people and what is not. You also notice all the mistakes, in your own than, as well as others. I am not one to point out people's mistakes, because I am just learning myself, and usually people get offended, and stop writing. lol I rather have them keep writing and make the mistakes, than feel defeated or offended and give up.
Just want to add something here.
I truly believe with all my heart and soul that if one wants to be a writer that it is absolutely and utterly imperative to know grammar, and to know it well. One cannot depend on editors, because editors change the voice, the rhythm, and all sorts of things. The entire point of being a writer is that one has the skills to write correctly. Imagine if a bricklayer said, "Well, yes, of course I can lay bricks. It doesn't matter if they are crooked. The architect can come and straighten them out for me."
I believe that the best investment any emerging writer can make is go and spend a year doing grammar courses. It's grammar that lends power and style to one's voice. Without it, one's writing will always pale into significance.
You need to know spelling and grammar so that it's not an OBSTACLE to your writing.
Once you know the "rules" you can break them as you choose. A good editor can tell when things are being done for a reason.
If you don't have control of grammar, then you can't control pacing, voice, and even the speaking breath of a reader.
What I have noticed often differentiates editorial comments, advice and quality is whether or not the editor/commenter/work-shopper has a fascist grip on whatever grammatical learning they have acquired (they believe the "rules" are in concrete), or a delicate touch that works with a fine eye looking for nuanced writing vs. mistakes or poor decisions.
I am amazed how this went from asking for some advice to a debate on about editors. Lol. So many interesting people in the world. I thank you for your help.
Natalie, in addition to the above, I want to say that we obviously disagree, and let's leave it at that.
You guys are agreeing to disagree on a non-issue. You are spattering on about two different aspects of writing one creative and the other is editing.
I guarantee that if you spend all your time trying to format and structure as you’re writing you will never finish, and any creative thought you might have had, will go right out the window while you are wasting time constructing the perfect grammatically correct sentence.
Get it down first then correct on the re-writes. And if your book is going to be any good there will be lots of rewrites.
By the way, tight perfectly correct Grammar is not always the best way to tell a story. Demanded for a textbook I agree, but not necessarily for a novel. The tweaks and pulls and sometimes down right blatant disregard for grammar may be imperative to the story, most call it Style.
You may have noticed grammar was abused in the above paragraphs to provide conversational tone rather a droning lesson.
Sophia does make a valid general point about editing, which is that if you want to get published for the first time, the publishers won't take you seriously if you have grammatical and spelling errors - it just looks very bad, like turning up to an interview in shabby, dirty clothes and not bothering to brush your teeth. If you have a proven record as a bestseller, however, they will be much more sympathetic, because you have a proven track record.
Of course, in a work of fiction, one can bend the rules of grammar and language and as long as the personal rules that you impose operate in a consistent way throughout the book, it is fine. However, that is in no way the same as making grammatical errors unknowingly.
There is no problem with having a teacher who is not some big commercial success. A writer with relatively modest writing success can make a better tutor than one who is a bestseller.
ah! the famed poet appears! (bowing and scraping) a published writer in our midst, so happy to see you here Kim!
love ya chic!
was that over the top?
like I care
whats your 100th hub going to be about
how about me
My advice to you would be to never give up. Always follow your dreams because one day they will become reality.
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