For four solid years at university (okay, three-and-a-half; I had a lot of Advanced Placement credits), I studied the art of understanding and writing the English language. I love reading, and I love writing. And I take a lot of pride in my knowledge of both.
But is that a good thing?
I’ve read publishers and professionals who say that a good editor will take care of any grammar or punctuation issues you may have, and that you – the storyteller – should concentrate on all of the things that will make your story sell: plot, characters, conflict, dynamics. That’s great to hear, especially for those writers who have more skill with story than they do with pesky matters like proper capitalization and use of commas or quotation marks.
But I’m the type of person who lives and breathes that stuff. Before I send any manuscript off to a beta reader or an editor, I want it to already look its best. I want to be proud of it. If I send off a manuscript that is half-assed in its grammar or spelling, that’s going to make me look like an idiot to my editor. At least, I think so.
I know that any editor is going to return my manuscript with lots of notes and corrections; I’m preparing myself for an ocean of red mark-ups. But I think I’m doing that poor person a favor by at least making the manuscript as clean as it can be, the first time around.
For all of you experienced writers out there: Am I worrying too much about the rules of my language? Should I leave all of that to the beta readers and editors? Or am I right to be muscling up on my words and punctuation as well as my plots and characters?