Do you second guess yourself while writing? If you're like me, you do it often. I know I'm not as careless with my spelling these days because word doesn't underline things as often. (It doesn't like my fragments; but hey, isn't that the way we talk and think?) Grammar... ugh! I've always thought my grammar was very good. It is, compared to the people I've spent the most time around. But what about in the world of publishing? I'm just guessing, being a newbie; but I'd say the standards in publishing are probably higher.
I've read so many blogs of people that are aspiring writers that have worse grammar than my pre-schooler. I know we're all more careless with our blogs than our novels. I don't proof read my blogs. I can imagine the things you've seen in my posts! Thank you for your kindness in not mentioning it... (except for that time I misspelled Shih Tzu. EVERYBODY commented on that one!) But honestly... If you don't know the difference between to, too, and two, or weather and whether, should you be writing? If the notion of starting a sentence with a capital letter is foreign to you, is writing your talent?
I'm not saying you should give up your dream if you're grammar is not stellar. But, if your writing resembles that of a grade-schooler, maybe you should put the manuscript on the back burner while you brush up on your weaknesses. If you're serious about writing, you'll want to improve.
What if your writing is good, but you have an occasional dilemma? Or maybe you're stuck on using the same three punctuation marks because you're unsure of the others. If you're looking to perfect your grammar and punctuation, where do you look? Do you Google? Do you use an 'answer' site? If so, how do you if the source is reliable?
I'm addicted to ellipses... true. I could use them... oh... say every sentence... though I try not to. Seriously... I use them a lot in my e-mails... I don't know why. I use them frequently in my blog posts. Fortunately, they are not as prevalent in my ms. Do you know when it's correct to use them?
How about colons and semicolons? Punctuation inside/outside quotation marks? Do you know the difference in a dash, an en (--) dash, and an em (---) dash? Do any of these marks of punctuation draw questions? It seems, no matter how comfortable we are in writing and using punctuation, we all have moments where a certain passage makes us doubt. Why do I say that? Because I see the questions posted by so many on sites that give the answers... and on sites that don't. (Please don't use a bulletin board type site as your reference. A lot of contributors think they know the answer.)
If you're serious about learning correct form and punctuation, then there is a bible for you. It's called the Chicago Manual of Style. I don't remember how I discovered it; but I immediately bookmarked it! Don't get me wrong... I'm not the queen of grammar! I do, however, want my manuscript to be as perfect as possible before I even thing about sending out a query.
While writing last week, I wrote a sentence that didn't seem right. I wasn't sure how to punctuate it. Maybe I needed to completely reword it. I remembered the bookmark for the Manual of Style. I had my answer in no time. It's the first time I've used it since starting my ms, but I'll probably need it a lot during the editing process.
The website offers a subscription for around $30, I think; but if you're a long way from being finished, don't worry about shelling out the bucks. They have a great Q&A section that's totally free, and will probably provide the answers you need for now. Once I'm finished and ready to seriously edit, I'll probably subscribe. I think it would be a good place just to spend time surfing. We can never learn too much...
BTW ;) is not a form of punctuation!