Not long ago on a forum for writers, I saw a discussion about whether writers need to use special computer programs to help them with their grammar and vocabulary and such. Of course, I didn’t want to express my opinion (always a bad idea on that forum anyway, since for some reason the moderators believe that disagreement = argument = fighting) without first testing the program in question with a sample of my own writing.
So… Parts of my experience with one of those stupid fix-your-writing computer programs (Grammarly):
“Sticky sentences slow your reader down, try and avoid them.” I’m supposed to let someone who writes this sentence tell me how to correct my own? That needs to be a semicolon instead of a comma, or even a period to separate it into two sentences. Also, try and is wrong.
Instead, it should be this: “Sticky sentences slow your reader down. Try to avoid them.”
(I am amused that even the little grammar checker for this blog caught the error in “try and.” Not really that hard, kids.)
A couple of sentences from my own writing: “A few days passed, I think. Whenever there was only moderate rain and no wind, I went outside, no longer looking for an end to sea and sky but only… wondering, maybe, how long it would be until I forgot that I had ever lived anywhere else, and knowing that isolation would accelerate the fading of memory.”
The part in bold type is supposedly cliché… Really. Insert eye-rolling emoticon here. Exactly how is it cliché? The computer program, in its infinite stupidity, didn’t explain that part.
The following words are “too big,” according to Grammarly:
Is there any word on this list that isn’t part of normal speaking vocabulary for grown-ups? They’re definitely all part of mine. Syllable count alone is not sufficient to determine if a word is “too big” for readers… And, um, disestablishmentarianism — so there! 😛
Under any circumstances, the fact that the protagonist of the quoted story has an IQ around 140 (which is still somewhat lower than his author’s) ought to count as some justification for his speech patterns. Besides, readers who have trouble with the words on that list aren’t going to understand the story anyway, so why should I nerf my word choices for their benefit?