Thursday, June 19, 2008

Grammar school


I think I need to go back to grammar school. I always loved English class. In 7th grade, they taught us how to diagram sentences. I LOVED IT!!!

But now I am realizing just how much I have forgotten, and some things I was just never taught. When do you put commas? I have heard so many different opinions, and a lot of "I think you do it this way" comments. I was always told to use them when you would naturally pause in a sentence, but I am finding that I have way too many commas when I do that. When do you use the word "had"? When do you single quote, when do you double? How many adverbs are too many adverbs? How many adjectives are too many adjectives? Adverbs and adjectives have always been my friends. In school, I would write papers and add them liberally, and my teachers soaked it up, especially my non-English ones. And heck, it added to my word count, so woohoo!

But now I know that too many adverbs and adjectives are superfluous. They are 'telling' and not 'showing'. WHOOPS. Single quotes... should they have been double?

One writer friend said he has gone as far as counting adjectives and adverbs in published books, then counting the number he has to compare. *ahem* If you know me, you know I will not go to this level of detail, but then again, I read some books that feel like shells, with no descriptions either, or just bland description. There has to be a happy medium.

I would love to go back to school to learn the finer points of English in a standard, organized setting, but alas, time and money prevent. I could also go and buy a plethora of books on the subject, but my patience prevents me from doing that. The thought of reading a long book on grammar makes my skin want to crawl. Hmmm... maybe someone needs to write a FICTION book about an ENGLISH teacher who is teaching GRAMMAR. Yeah, that's a great idea! I could read that. I like stories. I guess that means I like showing vs. telling, huh!?!

Sooooooo... for all you, like, one, or two, or three, readers of my blog out there: How do you learn best? Do you read gobs of books on reading, do you learn better taking classes, or do you wing it like I do? *grin*

Side note: I would like to also point out that Angela Hunt wrote a marvelous book called The Novelist that did something similar to my suggestion, except it was on novel writing in general, not grammar. An excellent read, I highly recommend it! I came out of it having read a great story, learning a little something about myself, AND a few good pointers for my road to being a writer!

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