It looks like Blogger is back up and running correctly! At least for me. We'll see how long it lasts.
I know a couple other editors read this blog, so I'm asking you, as well as anyone else with an opinion: Does the following syntax error bother you as much as it does me?
"Thank you." She said.
Of course, that text should be:
"Thank you," she said.
Dialogue with improper grammar—specifically, that improper grammar—is one of the most frequent errors I see in OTP submissions. It's happening so often, I can think of only two plausible causes:
1) An entire generation of writers has grown up learning how to use grammar correctly in other situations, but not dialogue. Quite often, that mistake is the only one I see in a well-written story, yet it happens multiple times in that story, as if the author learned different rules than I did. (It happens in poorly written stories too, but so do a dozen other kinds of errors, so I doubt the causes are the same in that case.)
2) Microsoft Word and other word processors are applying grammar rules of normal writing to dialogue. The stupid programs keep saying "a sentence can't end in a comma," and following that up with "the first word in the next sentence needs to be capitalized."
What frustrates me is, I don't know how severely I should punish authors for this mistake. What if the last thing an author does before submitting a story is run "one last" spell and grammar check, and has the program set to fix errors automatically, and doesn't notice what the program is doing to dialogue? In that case, a good writer is being a bad software user, and those are different skills.
True, for the last 20 years or so, all good writers had to learn to be good users of word processors, but this particular grammar "fix" seems to be a fairly recent development. And I've learned that even in 2012, a number of very good writers don't know crap about computers, word processors, or anything IT-related. Not even when they're younger than word processing itself (which floors me, but it's true--today's 20-somethings are NOT all skilled computer users, even though they grew up with computers even more than I did).
There's going to come a time when not knowing how to take full advantage of a word processing program's features will be as inexcusable as not knowing
"Thank you," she said.
is correct dialogue grammar. But until that day arrives, I think I have to be a bit lenient with this particular error.
What do you think?