Manuscript Monday: Grammar Gaffes

7  o c t o b e r  2 0 1 4

Happy Monday!

We hope that it is a marvelous and not a manic Monday for you and that your pens are busy running out of ink as you eagerly dip into the support and power of #NaNoWriMo.

As you’re writing for #NaNoWriMo, it’s easy to get caught up in the word count goals and not worry about some common grammar mistakes that you can clean up later.

Sure, you can, OR, you can take charge of your writing and make life easier for you as you start your post-completion edits at the end of the month.

When you submit a manuscript, it should be your version of finished.  Meaning, you think it could technically be printed tomorrow and is the speaking piece of perfection.  When we read manuscripts, we can easily be turned off by common errors, punctuation errors, and sloppy formatting.

Let’s talk about some common grammar gaffes that we frequently see in incoming manuscripts.

1. Their, there, they’re

Yes, we are putting this on here because it is a common mistake, especially for those who fall prey to Word’s “spell and grammar check”.

Word has a funny way of thinking EVERY their should be there.

Are you talking about ownership or belonging to something/someone? Use THEIR.

Are you talking about a place, going somewhere, directions?  Use THERE

Do you really want to say “they are”? Use They’re.

When we finish a manuscript, we ALWAYS do a search for there/their/they’re and read every single one to make sure we didn’t overlook one or inadvertently change one on accident (yes, even we use spell checker but we are lately loving our subscription to Grammarly.)

2. Your Vs. You’re

Is it the apostrophe tripping you up? Don’t think about it too hard.

Can you replace the word with “you are”? Then use you’re.

Can you replace the word with “my”? Then use your.

3. Apostrophe Usage In General

Why do we struggle with the apostrophe so much?  We often see misplaced apostrophes, almost as much as misplaced commas.

Primarily, apostrophes show possession but are never to be used after a possessive pronoun.

For instance, you could say, “Jim’s locker was red.”

But you would not say, “His’ locker was red.”

We were called out for an overlooked apostrophe in The Before Now and After Then.  We let frappucino’s slip through our little fingers before the ARC went out and many English fanatics reminded us that the frappucinos did not in fact own anything.

We hung our heads for a bit and reveled in the fact that five people read the book, and five people missed that little error with our favorite tasty treat.  We’re human, we all overlook things and our brains are fantastic machines that connect dots and make us easily overlook.

Are these three little errors the worst things in the world?  No.  But, they are so common and so often talked about that we all stop and wonder, “What in the hell?” when we see them.

Our little advice, some bigger mistakes can be overlooked as often times with fiction, strict grammar rules can go out the window in favor of “voice”. But, the above three items are pieces that bare minimum you should always check before sending your manuscript.  It’s often the little and common errors that turn us off.

Why don’t you drop us a comment with your grammar pet peeve?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s