When an author is worried an editor will consider their writing to be poor due to grammatical mistakes, my message is: don’t stress. We are not here to judge.
In England, when 15/16-year-olds do their English exam and are asked to write a story, a whopping 40% of their mark for that story comes from accuracy. That’s spelling, punctuation, grammar, and sentence structures.
Accuracy is an important skill that ideally you want to learn in school. But if it’s not your forte, a low mark up against this success criteria can sow the seeds for young writers to assume they are bad or untalented.
But accuracy is different to creativity.
Ideas and accuracy are a long way from one another.
I’m an editor because I have the skills in accuracy, and I’m a dab hand at using syntax for maximum impact. Plus, I’ve studied and taught literature, so I know how and why stylistic features work.
But I’m not the ideas person.
Your ideas mark would no doubt be higher than mine in an exam.
I know what I’m good at, and that’s elevating someone else’s prose. I’ve dabbled with creative writing. I’ve done bits and bobs. But I’m no world builder. I’ve never yet managed to meld a character and a premise and let it play out over the ~200 pages of a novel.
So if it’s this idea of accuracy that’s scaring you, don’t worry about it. Getting the accuracy right so the story can be enjoyed is where editors and proofreaders can help you.
Making sure your readers are fully immersed; making sure neither accuracy nor style issues jolt them out of the world you’ve spent so long creating – that’s where we come in.
We have seen it all. Homophone errors. Comma splices left, right, and centre. Some off-mark apostrophes. It happens. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer.
So bring your work to me without fear of embarrassment. I’m not judging you. I might laugh with you at those unintentionally funny typos, never at you. An editor is not an examiner. An editor is not your teacher. Don’t let school day hang-ups get in the way of your success.