I am editing my manuscript right now. Instead of endless rewrites, I’m reading through it in its entirety and making corrections–spelling, grammar, word choice, deleting repetitive phrases, deleting unnecessary adverbs, passive voice into active voice. Little nitpicky line editing things.
I often feel that my grammar is on shaky ground. As I’ve ranted about before, my high school English classes were almost exclusively about dissecting literature, always more about the New York State Regents Tedious Torture Exam. One of these days, I’ll tell you about the Semester of Infidelity in 11th grade.
We learned verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, punctuation, predicates, and subject in elementary school, but a great deal of English grammar has come to me through osmosis–hearing other people speak, reading others’ words.
Which is fine for everyday. Except that it reminds me of a time in 8th grade: I was doing homework. My dad read over my mini-essay and said, “That sentence is backwards.”
My teachers and I shared a bizarre New York City dialect, which tends to shorten words and construct sentences backwards. My father grew up in Queens, too, but he’s good at linguistics.
My written grammar was a mess. I don’t write like that anymore and certainly not in this story. But sometimes–yeah, there are bits and pieces that I came across during the editing of pages 1 to 200 that made me laugh. They may not all be grammatically incorrect. They just struck me as odd. Snarky comments are below in red.
Walking into his bedroom, Miles saw that the housekeeper, who was arranging a bowl, plate and utensils back on a tray, had relieved Pearl. Holy passive voice, Batman!
The first thing he did after washing and dressing was take a sip of black coffee.
Not technically incorrect, but just plain odd to read aloud.
The Avon was a skinny river, narrow, but it was tidal. “Narrow” and “skinny” are pretty much the same here. And why is narrow set apart in the middle of this sentence?
“I suppose he must have desired to return to civilization,” Mrs. Brown interjected. This is less New York grammar and more “trying to be 18th century grammar.”
There was a monument to a saint there whose nose had been lopped off sometime during the Reformation.
So that saint’s actual nose was lopped off? Oh, the statue’s nose was knocked off? What?
“Have you read the letter yet?” Juliet, Viscountess Banston, asked her husband, breezing into her boudoir that evening. Who done did the breezing?
“What sort of terms is Mr. Pitt seeking?” Is? Are?
But anything more could not happen. Kind of stumbly with too many words.
Then the drops fell, one, two at a time, then more, until Miles’ ears heard the pitter-patter of raindrops through falling through leaves. Typo!
There was a right-of-way from the lane where John lived toward the big house.
Really? Is this Yiddish or English?
Do you ever read over your sentences and wonder if anybody else will ever understand it? Did you learn grammar in school? Off to go study Strunk & White.
Note: apparently Blogger decided to mess with spacing and font size today.