The most basic grammatical skill needed is to be familiar with the eight parts of speech and knowing how they work together in the construction of a sentence, including the proper usage of punctuation. If you don’t know the rules, you won’t be able to break them for effect.
Analyse your grammar
Choose a page from a work of fiction or non-fiction you are working on. With different coloured pens or markers, underline each of the eight parts of speech in your work. The eight parts of speech are: noun, pronoun, verb, adverb, adjective, preposition, conjunction and interjection. If you aren’t familiar with these, take a look at the handy reference list below.
Do this exercise every day for a week and you’ll increase your confidence in terms of being able to analyse your own work and bring it up to the next level.
Quick reference list
Noun: naming word. e.g. bird, Billy.
Pronoun: refers back to a previously mentioned noun. e.g. he, she, it.
Verb: action word; describes what someone/thing is doing. e.g. breakdance, run, holler.
Adverb: modifies a verb or an adjective. The road to hell is paved with them, says Stephen King. e.g. He breakdanced poorly.
Adjective: modifies/describes a noun. e.g. The fantastic break dancer.
Preposition: links parts of sentences together; describes relationships. e.g. The bird flew away after Billy hollered at it.
Conjunction: links words, phrases and clauses. e.g. Billy is a breakdancer and a bird hater.
Interjection: adds emotion to a sentence. Stands alone from the sentence grammatically. e.g. Hey! Leave that bird alone.
About Laurent Boulanger
Dr Laurent Boulanger has been teaching in the M.A. in Writing at Swinburne University since 2004. His novel ‘Better Dead Than Never’ was shortlisted for the 2007 CWAA Ned Kelly Best First Crime Novel. He has worked as an International Correspondent for UK’s ‘Writers’ News’ for 12 years. He is also a writer-director with his second feature film currently in production.