Monday, June 28, 2010

Little Mistakes—How Much Do They Matter?

blog90 Maybe it’s because it’s Walmart, but I get annoyed every time I’m at the checkout because the sign says 12 items or less. It should be 12 items or fewer.

This, of course, makes no difference at all. The point is the same—if you have 13 or more items, don’t stand in that line. (Although people do. That annoys me too, but that’s a whole other issue.)

And when I took my dog to the vet the other day, I drove on a road that claimed it was a boulevard. A boulevard, by definition, is a wide street or thoroughfare. But it wasn’t wide at all—it was a winding two lane country road that was acting pretentious.

I’m the first to admit that this blog is rife with errors and typos because I’m bolting through my posts. But I take a lot more care with my manuscripts—they’ll be as error-free as I can make them before I submit them to my agent or editor. Although I know they’ll still have errors (with any luck, just minor ones)— the errors will bug me to death, even if no one else notices they’re there.

But Jane Friedman, editor of Writer’s Digest, wrote a post recently that surprised me. She states:

But if I have a pet peeve with writers (both beginning and published), it's their unrelenting obsession & unforgiving attitude toward errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.


She goes on to say that “perfect grammar has nothing to do with great writing.” Ms. Friedman calls it a “surface level” problem that sucks up energy better spent toward content and craft.

This post makes me wonder if I’m just off-base with my nit-pickiness. It’s probably just English majoritis on my part.

How thorough are you with your editing? Do grammatical errors and typos trip you up as a reader, or are you able to overlook them?