In this first series of posts I will review books that in my opinion every writer must have on his shelf. I will do it one book at a time, with emphasis on a different aspect of writing each time. The first, most basic book you must own is a book on grammar. Too much writing these days contain misplaced apostrophes (it’s or its?), wrong verb-tenses and other such grammar issues that can easily be corrected by one perusal of a high-school grammar book. I regularly use Wren and Martin High School Grammar and Composition for all my grammar needs. It never fails me.
It doesn’t matter what you’re writing, good grammar will make your writing stand out. I work in a corporate environment and you will be amazed to know how many grammatical nightmares I see in my work inbox everyday. Look around you on the internet. Do you really have to go that far to find a piece of writing that’s not riddled with errors? What would you rather read? “im pikin up sum frends” or “I’m picking up some friends”?
Grammar doesn’t just lend credibility to your writing, it makes it legible. If your spelling and grammar are correct, before anything else, you will be understood. And in today’s world where everyone’s speaking at the same time, being understood is half the battle won.
One of the common reactions I get when I recommend this to writers who are starting out is one of indignation and embarrassment. There is absolutely no reason to feel this way. If I were to decide to pursue something in Physics, the first thing I would do is go over my high school Physics textbook as a refresher (F = ma and all that). This is no different. Spelling and grammar are absolute essentials if you want to write well. If it takes going back to a high-school-level book for you to dust off those cobwebs, please don’t let your ego get in the way.
For those of you who already own and use a grammar book, perhaps you could give some recommendations in the comments section below – which book do you use? What are some common topics that you keep going back to? Have you come across any bad grammar books that we should be wary of?