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?
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
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
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 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
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)