Minding your P’s and Q’s

Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.

What are your pet peeves when it comes to grammar and spelling?

Really? you’re talking to the wrong person here.

You have to remember, I failed English at school, managed to scrape a bare pass at the third attempt and picked up written English as I went along. My handwriting is appalling as well, it’s so bad that I could have been a doctor.

Having to sweat over writing reports and official letters when I was a senior ships officer was purgatory. I often survived by making sure that there was a number in every box. Nobody ever complained, perhaps that showed just how important a lot of the paperwork was.

The greatest invention ever, and what enabled me to write novels, was the F7 key (The mighty spellcheck).

I’m also a firm believer that I shouldn’t criticise the mistakes of others in public. Perhaps I might have a quiet word, if I know the person really well but otherwise, I’m not perfect myself, see above.

I’ve been involved in and seen enough arguments over trivialities to know that it’s not worth it.

A lot of the time, the rules and structures of written English pass me by completely. I’ll find a discussion about oxford comma’s or the merits of single/double quote marks and my eyes glaze over.

Which is not to say that I don’t agree that published work should be pristine, it should be and it should follow all the rules.

It’s just that I don’t know what they are.

That’s why I have an editor. I have to admit to being in awe of her, she’s wonderful and spots all my mistakes.

Anyway, getting back to the subject.

What does annoy me is a typo on page one of a new novel. It grates and sets the tone for the rest; no matter how good it might be. It doesn’t matter what it is, a misplaced capital, the wrong word in a sentence, or just a spelling mistake.

I actually had a review for one of my books which said, “Unusually for a self-published book, it is almost entirely free from grammatical or typographical errors.” There are several ways you can take a comment like that, I chose to see it as a compliment.

And the presumption that I saw when my daughters were at school; one of their teachers told me that spelling and grammar didn’t matter too much, as long as you could understand what was being said.

I could never see how that would work on a job application, an insurance policy, the last will and testament.

Or the deeds to my house.

How about you, what are your pet hates, when it comes to spelling and grammar?

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14 Responses

  1. Stevie Turner

    I used to help out with reading at my sons’ primary school back in the 1990s. The teacher told me never to correct the children as it would ‘interfere with their flow’. Hmm… I didn’t really agree with that, and what with other things going on I eventually took both boys out of the school and put them in a better one.

    • Richard Dee

      Quite, my three all achieved in the end, thanks to some inspirational teachers.

    • Lela Markham

      Modern “teaching” methods here in the US is incredibly lax especially on grammar rules, though I have friends who are teachers who insist it’s getting better. I doubt it’s getting better, but it’s the basic same idea — that it’s more important students like writing than that they know how to do it correctly. Heavy sigh!

      • Richard Dee

        I guess it means that there will always be jobs for editors.

  2. P.J. MacLayne

    I giggle every time I find a typo in a book published by one of the big companies. I know people like to rag on indies, but mistakes happen and that’s proof,

    • Richard Dee

      People have tried to catch me out by asking who my editor is, once they learn that I’m self-published. I think they’re surprised to know that I do and that they’ve heard of her.

  3. Darlene Foster

    A few mistakes will always be missed no matter how many times the manuscript is reviewed by the author and others, but if I find a lot of obvious mistakes, I stop reading. I remember visiting a school shortly after publishing my first book. At the Q and A time one little girl said, “I found a mistake in your book.” I said, “Yes, I know. I put it in there to see who would find it.”

    • Richard Dee

      Great comeback. 🙂 I recently found a mistake in one of my novels, 10 minutes later I had a corrected version uploaded. That’s one of the good things about self-publishing.

  4. phil huston

    I agree. tell the story. My father said you can hire an accountant (or an editor). Except he had a Journalism degree so anything less than an A in English was hell. “What do mean you made a B in English?” Spelling, he was a stickler. And vocabulary. “A good vocabulary is important even if you can’t use it very often.” I came home from the doctor in junior high with a couple of stitches in my cheek covered by a bandage. I got a $5 bill for using the word ostentatious when asked how I felt.

    • Richard Dee

      As far as I’m concerned, I write it and my editor sorts it out. She leaves my voice alone and just makes sure that I’m following all the rules. This arrangement seems to work reasonably well.

  5. Roberta Eaton Cheadle

    I am also not very good at spelling and use spell check a lot. The problem is, it often gives me the American spelling and then I have to check on-line. I aim for as good as possible in my books and edit myself and have them professionally edited, but there is no perfection in life. My experience of Indie books is that generally they are just as good, if not better, than traditionally published books in this regard. There are some poor Indie books out there but the same can be said for traditionally published books.

    • Richard Dee

      I always trust my editor over any automated system. I can get a corrected manuscript back and Grammarly will find hundreds of errors in it.

  6. Amy Miller

    I agree. Also, that is a tremendous compliment. Well done!

    • Richard Dee

      Thank you, I was secretly pleased to get that one. It felt like a vindication, not just for me but for my editor.

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