Lately I’ve been reading a lot more about writing itself. I’m part of a lot of writing related facebook groups, and I follow a lot of writing blogs. It’s become an increasingly large piece of my world.
One side effect of that is that I’m reading a lot more work by new writers. My god is some of it awful. I’m reading things by writers who aren’t even at a high school level in terms of grammar and spelling. I have no idea what to say to those people. I mean, I’m not the greatest. I have trouble with punctuation when it comes to dialog, sometimes I make choices in terms of language that aren’t great, etc. so I’m not the person who is in a position to just say “This is how you should be doing it” but when someone is trying to become a writer and they consistently spell you as “U” it’s hard to know how to help them.
I know that most of them just want to tell a story, to not have to care about those details, and you don’t have to be the greatest writer the world has ever known in order to tell a good story, but you have to be at least competent. Stephanie Meyer gets a lot of flack for being a poor writer (and she is a poor writer, let’s be clear), but her prose is always grammatically correct, if uninspired. These people are doing text speak. In a book.
If you want to write, learn the basics. You don’t need an English degree. You don’t need to be Cormac McCarthry or Ernest Hemingway, but you have to at least have figured out basic spelling, basic sentence structure, basic English (or whatever language you write in).