Saturday, January 14, 2012

Thoughts About Editing And English Grammar.

Recently I wrote a story for Rattles Flash Fiction. Like the title says only a short story. As English is not my mother tongue I really needed some help with editing.

To my surprise there weren't so many problems with words and vocabulary, but my poor beta reader Carol had other bigger issues to deal with:

When my story was done I had the required 800-1000 words, but only two paragraphs, well three if you count the sentence to lead from first part of the story over to the second.

Honestly, I've never given much thought about the importance of text formatting. But in the end my story was about a third longer, not because of more words, but more paragraphs ... and I tell you, the effect was amazing!

Not to mention that the story was easier to read with some air to breathe between the lines, but it also gave the whole story or maybe better said some particular scenes more significance!

A part of me thinks that I really have to learn quite a lot more about editing. Another, lazier part, argues with 'Is that really an author's job? What are editors for?' Anyway, for now I better leave it at that.

No German Rules for English Grammar
On the grammar front my poor beta reader revealed my favor for commas. Very obviously I transfer the German punctuation rules to English with the effect that I have much too many commas! A random example (not from the story):

Jack sagt,dass Jill die Frau ist,die er liebt.
Jack says(that) Jill is the woman(who) he loves.

Correct me if I'm wrong, no commas in both cases and the English sentence is even more simple in its construction!

Frankly speaking, when reading English books I've never paid much attention to punctuation. But this new cognition awoke the need to deal more with English grammar. So, I don't know after how many years dusting in my bookshelf I took my English Grammar In Use.

Unfortunately there were no explicit rules for punctuation, but 136 units that concentrate on a particular point of grammar. Somehow a boring and tedious imagination to study one unit after the other. Fortunately there's a study guide helping you decide which units you need to study. There were sentences to be completed using one or more given alternatives.

Okay, the book is for intermediate students, but first good experience was that I didn't need the dictionary for missing vocabulary, not a single time! Yeah!

After checking my answers the study guide suggested 27 units. No surprise that I really need some exercise with Prepositions, I know I'm weak here. My other big gaps were with Present Perfect & past and -ing & the infinitive. The other chapters included just minor problems.

Well, that's not too bad. I mean 27 out of 136 units, that's what ... *calculating* ... 19,85%. Quite acceptable for a foreign speaker. Or should I expect more from myself, considering that I deal with English for more than 20 years? When I see it that way, it sounds rather bad. What do you think?


Post a Comment