Ungrammatical submission

I submitted one of my short stories, “Respite Room,” to a magazine today, asking for consideration. The description of the editorial approach of the magazine was that they try not to do heavy editing on pieces they accept but that they will correct grammar errors, except in dialogue.

Long-time readers of this humble blog (both of you) know that I consider grammar to be optional for creative writers. We are innovators of the language not servants of it. We’re not writing term papers or official reports. We have a free pass on the “rules” if we think it makes our writing more effective or communicative.

I gave my story a read through before submitting it (and I managed to find one word to change, though not for grammatical reasons), certain that since it was a straightforward telling, there would be no fancy rule breaking in the grammar department. I found I was mistaken. I came across several strings of sentence fragments, which seems to be my “error” of choice when I write. I did not fix these. I submitted them as written because I believe they express the story most effectively.

I’m not sure what the editor will do with this. I got the sense that the magazine won’t automatically reject a submission because of a grammar “violation” and that they are interested at first in the substance of the tale. But suppose they like it enough to accept it. What if they want to “fix” my grammar “mistakes”? Will I hold my ground and resist? Will I surrender for the chance at getting the story published? Likely I don’t have to worry about either option, and their response time is months. So I’m just going to forget about it.

Update 9-DEC-2011 – Subsequent posts show that this story was accepted by The Little Patuxent Review. Although this was not the magazine I was hinting at above, and although they had me tinker with the ending a bit, they had no reservation about the grammar “errors” I employed throughout.

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2 Comments on “Ungrammatical submission”

  1. Averil Dean Says:

    I imagine that they’re looking for errors like subject/verb disagreement, etc. I’d be really surprised if sentence fragments are a no-no, since our most respected writers use them freely. But I’ll be interested to see what they come back with.

  2. Paul Lamb Says:

    Averil – If they come back with anything, which would require them to accept the story for publication. We’ll see.


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