I just finished taking a course on revising your novel, trying to improve my writing (or as many like to call it, my craft). We spent a couple of weeks on techniques, then a clinical where the entire class picked apart each other’s work. I was terrified and excited about that part. It was invaluable, but humbling at the same time. This book is my baby, and they pointed out every flaw big and small. I am glad they did.
The second class was almost all about grammar. This class made me realize grammar is not a prerequisite course for writing a novel, just an added bonus. I’m still sorting out my feelings on the Oxford English dictionary admitting “LOL” and “OMG” as new “words” to be accepted by the community as a whole. But there it is. Mechanics help make the writing easier for the audience to read and lets the author control such things as dialogue and voice. Truly put by Wittgenstein “the harmony between thought and reality is to be found in the grammar of the language.” Knowing how to manipulate language through grammar allows the author to add layers of meaning and emotion with the simple twist of words and silence.
I have found a magic trick to get stronger in these twists, without going back to seventh grade. I have personally witnessed change many people’s written language skills. Find a college or university’s writing center and get a job there or volunteer your time for a semester or a year. Truly the sharing of knowledge and the variety of grammar issues that I have faced have taught me more than I ever forgot about the English language. Also editing other people’s work so often made it so I couldn’t turn it off. I do it with books, newspapers, anything in print.
I would recommend it for anyone wanting to improve their revising and editing skills. Instead of paying to take a course to give you the basics then end, you can gain more skills for free or while getting paid. I have also met many people who have similar interests and have helped me learn about the industry. It is a place to network. Where I work, there are published authors and poets who not only help me expand my abilities, but also give thoughts and advice on the actual publishing mystery that so many are trying to decode and crack. To quote Sir William Jones, “Never neglect an opportunity for improvement” and this is an opportunity that you can take upon yourself.
Books, classes and the like are wonderful, but can only bring you so far. This is real life writing, day in and day out. You will meet character ideas, learn about dialogue from ESL speakers, and hone your skills. A win-win for the budding writer and the students that learn from him/her.