Authors are expected to be good at language. Good grammar, good word choice, and good spelling are all very important in a published novel. But do authors study grammar? This week’s question was asked by Authors Answer contributor Linda G. Hill.
Question 24: How important is it to you to continue learning and brushing up on basic skills such as grammar? For instance, would you pay to take a course?
S. R. Carrillo
Wow, I’m gonna sound so fulla myself, but I consider myself very well-versed in grammatical conventions. I would not pay for a course. I do, however, ensure I always stay on top of my grammar. It’s always come second nature to me – I used to do editing for years and I’m a pretty vigorous self-editor as well. Grammar is where I excel.
Tracey Lynn Tobin
This question makes me feel a little bad about myself, to be honest, because while I do think that it’s important to always continue learning, I am totally unwilling to spend any time or money on such things. Maybe if I didn’t have a full-time day-job and a family to take care of, I might be a little more open to the idea of things like writing courses, but given that approximately 95% of my time and money is already accounted for, and the last 5% is what I actually spend writing, I don’t see me committing to any courses any time soon.
That said, I try my best to learn from my peers, through critiques of my own work, blog posts that writers post concerning their craft, and other such things. I can honestly say that I’ve learned quite a lot in the past four or five years, and I believe my writing has improved tenfold as a result.
Paul B. Spence
Well, I’m taking a graduate level writing course right now, so yes, I think it is very important to continue to hone your skills.
H. Anthe Davis
I’m rather casual about the ‘correctness’ of my writing, and in terms of grammar I really don’t remember any of the rules. I had a weird middle school experience and missed a lot of stuff that seems to have been basic education in my day, like diagramming sentences, etc. Frankly I only know what gerunds are because of my foreign language classes. Nevertheless I seem to do fine in my writing, and I’d rather not have anyone tell me what to do, so I doubt I’d take a course. I got a Bachelor’s in English (Creative Writing) and I’m never going back. Never never never.
I’d like to avoid silly mistakes and expand on my knowledge, but I don’t see the need to pay for a course when this information is available for free online. I follow Grammar Girl’s posts, but for the most part I like to think I have a good handle on the language. People who read my stories might disagree with me.
I wouldn’t pay to take a course, but I do try to devote time to reading books on writing and working with my critique group. I’ve found it’s easier to see mistakes in other people’s work than it is my own. The trick then is then creating enough distance to go into my own work to be able to apply that knowledge.
Since I actually teach English, grammar is kind of my thing, so I won’t be paying (any more) for that kind of class. I do learn new grammatical structures and ways to make writing stronger constantly, though, through what I read or research in my academic field. I tend to operate under a “continuous quality improvement” umbrella, so if I can find a way to better my skills, I’m there—as long as it’s not super expensive. I tend to feel guilty when I spend too much money on my “hobby.”
D. T. Nova
It is important to never assume I don’t have anything left to learn, even when it comes to the basics, but at the same time, I don’t think my grammar has enough room for improvement to justify paying for a course in it.
I think it’s very important to keep learning. The research involved in writing is fun and rewarding. I love learning new things, the more trivial the better. Stagnation is dangerous and boring. I’ve never paid for a writing course, but I would love to try it. Can you recommend one?
Linda G. Hill
I have paid to take college courses online to brush up on my writing skills and I absolutely loved them. I was actually amazed at how much I learned in the grammar course I took; I expected it to be easy. I’ve never been wronger in my life. 😉
But seriously, it’s been two years since I took the course (or thereabouts) and I’m considering doing it again. I love school now that I don’t have to go. (My teenaged self would probably shoot me for saying that.) It’s a challenge. And I love challenges.
Jay Dee Archer
I did take an online writing course last year, but it had nothing to do with things like grammar, and more to do with the creative writing process. It was free, anyway.
But I am an English teacher. I teach grammar every day. I’m immersed in grammar at work and I’m constantly thinking about it. Grammar is one of my strong suits. I don’t feel I need any kind of course to strengthen my skills in grammar, simply because it is what I do best. I’m also very unlikely to make spelling mistakes. Spelling is another of my strong points. I’m confident with both grammar and spelling.
How about you?
How do you feel about your grammar skills? Would you take a course to improve it? Leave your answers in the comments below.