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Does Bad Grammar Mean Bad Writing?

Bad grammar is probably the second worst nightmare writers dread. (Of course, nothing scares the hell out of writers than writer’s block) But does having an impeccable grammar directly translate to good writing?

I have been writing for over six years now and honestly, I still feel embarrassed whenever I see my work with grammatical errors. Name the smallest rule in grammar, I might have broken it once in my life. Over the years I have broken rules on subject and verb agreement, parallelism, the usage of passive voice and more.

And up until today, I can say that I’m not 100 per cent error free.

Whenever this happens, there is some sort of humiliation in my part. It may be normal for all writers who have publicly committed mistakes. Hey, we’re still human beings. It’s not like we’re born with impeccable grammar. However, because people think that we, as writers, have mastery of the language, we should use it with perfection and it’s totally understandable.

But does bad grammar really mean writing?

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Let me tell you this upfront. The answer is no. Bad grammar doesn’t directly translate to bad writing. Having an impeccable grammar doesn’t also imply great writing. For me, there are a lot of factors that contribute to the greatness of a writer, and having a perfect grasp of the language falls at the bottom of the list.

To me, here are the important components that make a great writer:

An Open Heart for a Good Story

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Do you think J.K. Rowling became famous for using highfalutin words? Or did John Green rise into fame because he speaks and writes in fluent English?

If you think the answer to these questions is yes, then you’re on the wrong track, buddy.

What made J.K. Rowling, John Green, and Harper Lee famous is not how well their subjects agree with their verbs. The secret behind the fame of these writers is the story they were able to tell us. These writers wrote, in the simplest way possible, great stories that we will also let our kids and grandkids know.

If you want to write, you should have something to write. To be a storyteller is to have some story to tell.

If you want to start your writing career, start with opening your heart and mind to good stories. By this, I don’t mean that you should think of the story that should change literature. No. That’s a far-fetched idea. What I want you to do is to let the stories come to you.

  • Be imaginative and look at each individual as a story waiting to be told.
  • Be observant. Look beyond the skin.
  • Create your own world, live in it as if it exists in reality.

Aside from having a solid story to write on, you should always remember that the characters you create should always be as real as possible. Creating characters that readers identify to breath, move, feel and exist as they do will make your story more solid. Make them more human, more flawed.

Remember that the best characters are the ones closest to life. If you create highly-intelligent, good-looking and gay-ish vampires, I suggest you change your perspective.

A Unique Way of Telling Your Story

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This is also one of the foundations of writing. Having a one-of-a-kind way to tell what you see, hear, smell, taste or feel your story makes you a better writer. This is where writing style comes in. As a writer, you should develop your own way of letting your readers understand whatever you are telling them.

Writing style generally is how you use words to form sweet music. It’s a writer’s way of arranging the notes placing them within the musical staff and producing something remarkable.

Ask yourself, how would you tell your story?

  • Would I tell it like I’m telling a story to kids?
  • Will I be witty? Or serious?
  • Is the way I tell stories hint darkness? Or shall I tell the story lightly?

These are just the few questions that you may ask yourself in order to determine how will you tell the story.

I’m just blabbering words, but to tell you frankly, this stage in your writing career is not easy. Choosing a style is like choosing your attitude. You pick one and it stays with you for a while. The most difficult thing is, people will identify you with the choice you made. So pick carefully.

Case in point: It took me around two years to finally fit into the writing style I am using now. Back then, I had this very serious approach in writing (probably because I read a lot of encyclopedias when I was young). That changed when I started to read novels again. Slowly, the totality of the writers I read became me.

How would I develop my own writing style?

  • Read
  • Read
  • Read a little more
  • and more
  • While reading, try to write. You can start by writing on a journal. Notice how your writing style changes as time passes.

And this is where good grammar comes in. Of all the three priorities I have in writing, grammar comes in last.

Why Grammar Might be Hindering You to Be a Better Writer

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I can’t be a writer because my grammar is terrible.

Most of the people I encourage to start taking writing seriously give me this excuse. Terrible grammar is often the greatest hindrance to falling in love with writing. Somehow, these young minds feel inhibited by their fear of being wrong. I understand their reasons, however, I don’t necessarily tolerate it.

Sometimes, worrying about grammar stops you from becoming a better writer in a manner that you become scared to take your pen and start scribbling words. Often, this inhibition kills those brilliant ideas waiting to be forged in ink and paper.

My advice: write whatever you want to write. William Forrester is right, the first step to writing is to write. Not to think. You should write the idea as soon as you could. Look at the words you created, imagine and write. Sometimes, thinking too much prevents you from writing  good stories.

Come out of the shell. Start writing now. Who knows, the next J.K. Rowling might be you!

Don’t be misled. Good Grammar is Important Too.

You might be under the impression that grammar is not important at all. No, I don’t say that. What I’m trying to explain is that bad grammar does not mean bad writing. But having bad grammar doesn’t make you a good writer as well. My suggestion: write and then revise.

If you want to become a great writer, you should invest in studying what is right and what is not too. You have to keep on honing that talent until you achieve a great stature in writing. Good luck.

Do you agree that bad grammar is the least important aspect of writing? Let me hear. Write your comments. (Worry not. I won’t bash your grammar)

 

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Interesting Jose Rizal Facts You Didn’t Know

Jose Rizal is celebrating his 153rd birthday today. Of course, as one of the many admirers of the hero, I felt it’s just fitting to honor him with a blogpost. With all the works that he has done, Filipinos never fail to be interested with the life of their National Hero and icon.

His one of a kind talent, intelligence and, at some stroke of luck and skill, appeal with girls makes Rizal really an interesting subject for research. We may all know that he was named Jose Protacio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda. But other than that? Everything seems to be foggy, maybe covered by a pile of other knowledge we acquired in college.

And because it’s his birthday, let me give you these facts that might make you want to pick that old book of yours and start looking back at the life of our National hero.

Rizal learned how to read and write at the age of two.

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Showing the early signs of genius, Pepe (as his childhood peers call him) was able to write and read at the age of two. He learned early from his mother Teodora. If you’re not impressed enough, let me tell you this: Rizal wrote Sa Aking mga Kababata, his first poem (To My Fellow Youth), when he was eight. If you’re not impressed enough, here’s the proof.

Rizal was a lottery gambler

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Like most Filipinos, Jose Rizal also tried his luck to win the lottery. He joined these gambling activities and once won Php 18,000 with the ticket number 9736. His prize was divided among his father, a friend in Hong Kong and an agricultural land in Talisay.

Rizal was a polyglot

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He was fluent in 22 different languages: Hebrew, Filipino, Ilokano, Bisayan, Subanon, Chinese, Latin, Spanish, Greek, English, French, German, Arabic, Malay, Sanskrit, Dutch, Japanese, Catalan, Italian, Portugese, Swedish and Russian.

To wit, once he was on a train in Germany. A few girls were talking about him and he understood it. He impressed the women by speaking fluent German. (Talk about picking up chicks huh!)

Rizal was once bullied when he was young

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Because Pepe was small for his age, he was often bullied. There was once this student named Pedro, who was one of the students in the school taught by Maestro Justiniano Cruz, who kept on insulting him in front of other students.

Rizal challenged Pedro into a fistfight. He won. Little did Pedro know that Rizal was tutored by his Tio Miguel in the art of wrestling and he was never bullied ever since.

Three animal species were named after Jose Rizal.

There are three species in the animal kingdom that were named after Jose Rizal: Draco Rizali, a species of a lizard; Rachophorus Rizali, a species of toad and Apogonia Rizali, a beetle species.

Rizal was once an average student

We all know that Rizal graduated in Ateneo Municipal de Manila with “sobrasaliente” or outstanding status. However, during high school, he was one of the eight students who got the same grade.

Rizal had Wanderlust

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In the 19th century, the era where Rizal lived, travelling was a long, tiring and expensive experience. However, that didn’t stop him from setting foot in different places of the world. Before Rizal was executed, he had already been to the United States, Spain, Great Britain, France, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Singapore, Borneo, Hong Kong, China and Japan.

Rizal is famous in other countries toojose-rizal-8

Rizal had monuments in the Philippines. But he is also recognized in Madrid, Spain; Wilhemlsfeld, Germany; Jinjiang, China; Chicago, Sand Diego, Seattle in the USA; Mexico City, Mexcio; Lima, Peru; Litomerice, Czech Republic; and in Toronto and Ontario, Canada.

Jose Rizal was admired by girls

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There have been stories telling that Rizal was some sort of womanizer. This is partly true as he had a lot of women in his life. However, only 10 are recognized as real relationships. Others were just flings or mere friendships (Wow. Imagine Rizal friendzoning a beautiful European woman). Yes, Rizal was not that handsome and was not really tall nor well built. But Rizal had what women wanted during those days: a sharp mind and a very sexy humor.

Here are Rizal’s 10:

  • the Philippines
  • Segunda Katigbak
  • Leonor Valenzuela
  • Leonor Rivera
  • Consuelo Ortiga y Rey
  • Seiko Usui (O-Sei-San)
  • Gertrude Beckette
  • Nellie Bousted
  • Suzanne Jacoby
  • Josephine Bracken

Rizal somehow saw his future

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This would seem like just an ordinary doodle, probably drawn by a kid ages ago. And yes, this is just another doodle. Except that it was drawn by Jose Rizal in December 30 1882.

He drew it because he had a bad dream. In his journal entry dated January 1, 1883, Rizal said, “(Two nights ago), I had a frightful nightmare when I almost died. I dreamed I was imitating an actor in a scene in which he dies, I felt vividly that my breath was failing and I was rapidly losing strength. Then my vision became dim and dense darkness like that of nothingness overpowered me: the anguish of death!”

Well, Rizal never knew that this dream would come true exactly 13 years later.

Conclusion

Honestly, there are more interesting facts about Rizal’s life. And we have more to discover. So, at the end of this short article, I wish everyone would take a minute to stop and think about how today changed the course of Philippine History. Happy Birthday buddy!

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Too Late: A Poem About Being In the Moment

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Too Late. That is two of the words that I always reflect me. I don’t deny that I’m having problems with punctuality. It’s one thing that I’m constantly improving. I was reflecting on these words yesterday and I thought, if I’m always late, I might miss the moments that actually matter to me and upon pondering this, I was able to write a free-verse poem.

I used the imagery of a basketball game because it’s one of the many things in this world that requires you to be a the perfect moment at the exact time. I pictured the image of a basketball player, defending his man for the final possession. I pictured the people cheering for the home team. I imagine the game tied and only a possession separates the two teams. And finally, I imagined the MVP, being too late to defend the shot.

How sad is being too late on to something that you’ve always wanted? Here’s my answer:


Too Late

The MVP took a day off.
There was no game today.
No practice, no training, no press conferences.
He lazed on his soft king-sized bed
trying to set his mind straight.
Exactly twenty four hours and eighteen minutes ago,
he was in the arena.
Sweating his ass off, running, jumping, scrambling for the ball.

It was the finals, game 7.
Fans filed up in their lines, cheering for the MVP.
Fourth quarter, with only three seconds to go.
The opposing team has possession
His team leading by one.
Ball was inbounded
Caught by his man.
A shot was fired
He jumped
He was too late.
Bucket.
Buzzer.
Fans cried out of disappointment.
The opponent celebrated pouring champagne,
confetti flying around the arena.
His teammates heading to the locker room.
He lied face down, tears gushing from his eyes.
And in that span of a fleeting moment,
his life flashed before his eyes:
His dying father calling his name;
the love of his life that got away;
his only shot at winning the gold.
All those times, he was a moment short.
Short of hearing his father’s voice.
Short of being with his true love.
Short of winning a title.
All that is too late now
because the moment has passed.

Conclusion

What are the things you wished to be just in time for? What moments have slipped your grasp?

Sometimes, I think back at these things and they make me regret. If only I was at the right place at the right time, right? Everything may have been different. That is why sometimes, we have to value timing and being there just in time.

Here are my other poems:

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The Sad Song of the Cricket

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I love hearing crickets at night. They give me a serene feeling. Whenever I hear crickets chirp, I turn all my lights off, be quiet and savor the song that it sings.  This happens rarely and that is why I savor it while it lasts.

Tonight, I heard a cricket’s song. As I listened to it, I thought that the cricket’s song sounded sad and I wondered, to whom does the cricket dedicate his songs? Does he have a muse? Or does he observe the people that he sings for?

I tried to make a poem out of it, and here it is!


The Sad Song of the Cricket

The cricket sang a sad song tonight.
I never understood what he was saying.
All I heard was mere chirping
but I knew it sang a sad song.

The night was cold
and an old man was sleeping in the couch.
The TV was left on, leftover food was on the table
and the old man was snoring.

On the other room,
An old woman was sleeping on her bed.
Her eyes were now dry with tears she just shed,
the lamp left on, her eyeglasses on the side table
and the old woman was sound asleep.

The cricket sang  a sad song tonight.
I never understood what he was saying.
All I heard was mere chirping
but I knew it sang a sad song.

The night was warm.
A middle aged man who had a beard was looking at his things,
trying to figure out what should go to the bin.
Old photos stacked on his lap, a few movie tickets he held,
an old rusty ring
and memories of the past that he wanted to bring back.

The night was warm.
A middle aged woman who had long wavy hair sat outside her house,
stars under her, the moon shining bright.
The woman was under the light yet she felt otherwise

The cricket sang a sad song tonight.
I never understood what he was saying.
All I heard was mere chirping
but I knew it sang a sad song.

Because somewhere, where the cricket sings,
hearts are broken and left untended.
Because somewhere, where the cricket sings,
people leave people, nothing being said

Conclusion

The cricket sang a sad song tonight. Is it for me? Or is it for himself? And I still continue to wonder if crickets really sing. I might just be imagining but I guess the cricket I listened to tonight is sad. I hope he’s okay.

 

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The Old Man and the See Saw

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I give you The Old Man and the See Saw, another free-verse poem I wrote. By the way, sorry for not being able to write for the past days. To my regular readers (if they even exist), I decided to stop publishing my poems about this girl that I like because I am trying to to push her out. I don’t know if she’s just busy but she hasn’t been noticing the things that I write, so I thought she might be avoiding me because I’ve been writing poems about her.

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The Moment I Knew

The Moment I Knew I am In Love With You — A Poetry on Love

The Moment I Knew

I was working on a poetry on love the past hours. At first, I was doubtful if I could write for today but somehow, this poem got through me.

I had some struggles writing this one because I tried free verse which is really not my forte. As a person who write poems (I don’t call myself poet because I’m nowhere close to those guys), I love rhymes and meters so this is a new world to me. Anyways, this poem is about me, again, of course. I hope you find some inspiration (?) or lesson in this poem. Enjoy!

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I Hope She Notices — A Hope Poem

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“I Hope She Notices” is a hope poem I wrote today. I don’t mean to be cheesy or sound like a hopeless romantic  but this poem is for someone that is dear to me. I’ve been writing poems for her (but not everything is actually about her). I just hope she notices that she’s the Muse behind every poem, every stanza and every line I write. I hope she realizes how I feel towards her because I still haven’t told her. I hope she notices.

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come home

Come Home

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Come Home” is a poem dedicated to all the people who miss their homes. They say that home is where the heart is and when the heart is far from the person, it makes him sad. Sometimes, you may think of the people you left here and I know that you left them for good reasons. This is for you. I hope that whenever you find yourself lonely, sad or just in need of someone to talk to, you read this poem and realize that you have a home to come to.

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