I was good at grammar in school. Found it boring but did well. Remembering the fine points—not so much. As an organic writer, I have found that, something sounding right doesn’t make it correct. When I got acquainted with other writers, I took their advice to heart. Jerry B Jenkins recommended The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. It’s the classic go-to book of grammar for writers. He said he reads through it every year. I determined to do the same. The original bookmark is still there. Halfway through, my eyes blurred. Don’t get me wrong, the information is helpful. But The Elements of Style is not a cover-to-cover read. Then again, Jerry read through a set of encyclopedias as a kid.
A few years later I met Joyce K. Ellis, grammarian extraordinaire at a writer’s conference. She has a witty way of explaining grammar. Her classes at conferences were always fun to attend. And her grammar column in the Christian Communicator helped me remember what I’d forgotten.
I asked her when she was going to write a grammar book. I promised I would buy it. And over time—and with others asking the same question—Joyce wrote Write with Excellence 201. The tagline is awesome: a lighthearted guide to the serious matter of writing well for Christian authors, editors and students. It is a fun guide through the sticky parts of grammar and some basics we’ve gotten a little sloppy about.
This book is an easy, entertaining read. Each chapter is full of examples of proper grammar use. Lots of helpful stories and examples. There is a quiz at the end of each chapter. No grades here. The answers are in the back of the book. So, you’re allowed the cheat if you get stuck. The index is a quick, very thorough reference for problem areas.
Write with Excellence is engaging enough to read from cover-to-cover. She even made me consider using the dreaded sentence diagram as a tool. (Maybe) I recommend keeping her book handy for reference as you write. It’s awesome to have at your critique group when questions arise. No more doubts about grammar issues.
I highly recommended adding this great resource to your craft books.
How many of you struggle with the finer points of grammar? What is your favorite resource?