Last month Joelle Steele spoke to us about approaching the market. If you listened carefully, her overriding message advised, “Learn to write first, if you have a hope of selling.”
Get out those grammar and punctuation books and go to work. Google it, if you’d rather. There are volumes of good information to be found there. On the other hand, there is nothing like a book to put you in study mode and hold you there.
Although punctuation should remain correct throughout, grammar applies to narration only. Dialogue is the vocabulary and speech patterns of the character and may be as rough as you want. Introspection is much the same, though not entirely.
Join a critique group and listen. Save your explanations. You will not be sent out with every book sold to tell what you meant to say. Remember Joelle relating how she stopped a young man who insisted on telling her the intention of his writing. If it’s there, it’s there, if it’s not, it’s not.
The person offering a critique is giving their first impression of what they heard. You may argue them into a second or third impression, but the first remains the first. If you disagree with a critique, fine, don’t use it. If most in the group remark on the same point, you will do well to make note. The point is to listen, listen, listen, and learn.