It is increasingly becoming apparent that way too many independent writers/publishers are in need of a refresher course in proper English usage. I have bought way too many ebooks from self published authors who’s books would be on the best seller lists if they would only correct this problem. Now I’m not talking about formal English. That would be going in the opposite direction and would look just as ridiculous. I’m talking about good, conversational English that they should be using to tell their stories.
This really is not hard to learn. Now I can’t claim to know all about proper English usage. I still have to look up some things, but I have had enough education in this to be able to easily see the mistakes I’ve been seeing in these stories. I’m not going to name names. I have no wish to embarrass anyone. But I am going to quote some passages I have read that will be very good examples of what I am talking about, so get ready. And you should have noticed by now that I haven’t been using formal English here. I do have dangling participles, but they are of the kind that is okay to have because this is conversational English.
I intend to write a series of articles about this, using only one item of interest at a time. In this article, it will be the use of ‘may of’ and ‘might of’, etc.
‘May of’ and ‘might of’, etc. are nonstandard uses of ‘may have’ and might have’. It is not correct to use ‘may of’, etc. Not even ‘should of’. The only time it is okay to use this in this manner is in dialog. Not narrative. Our characters have their own way of talking and we need to go along with them. But the narrator of a story needs to sound more intelligent, unless of course the narrator is the character. Then you need to keep the personality of your character. But if your narrator is not your character, then you need to revert to proper conversational English.
Too many readers out there are educated enough to know this, so don’t disappoint them. When you make these kinds of mistakes in your writing, your reader tends to be jerked right out of your story in order to back up and make sense of what you just said. You don’t want that. You don’t want to make any kind of distraction for your readers. Your readers want to get involved in your story, but they can’t if you’re going to constantly make them have to figure out what you just wrote. It is your job as the writer to learn to write properly. Your readers deserve that respect. If you don’t give them that respect, you will make them angry at you eventually and they won’t buy from you again. Not a good place to be.
More to come in another article.
Wishing you success,
Author of fantasy fiction romance novels (A K Stein)