In this day and age, the English language is in decline. Or some would say that it's changing, morphing into a new 21st century vernacular full of txt messages, c u later and colloquial slang. Change is all right, change is good. New terms, phrases and freestyle grammar has its place. But let's not get carried away. This is fine for the next generation of teens, footballers and their wives (have you noticed that foreign footballers speak English with more elegance and awareness than the English footballers?) but it's not quite the same for writers.
Literature has started to embrace the new forms and styles emerging for the mouths of babes (books with just an email narrative, text messages, slang etc) but the authors usually possess a good command on English in order for them to playfully indulge in the new methods of communication. There's no point advancing with speech when you've forgotten the basic foundations of the language.
So, in the first of a new series of how to make ourselves better writers, it's back to the basics. Grammar. This extract is taken from The Times Writer's Guide; there's a link at the bottom to Amazon where you can/should buy this comprehensive and accessible manual.
The Thirteen Gremlins of Grammar
1. Correct speling is essential.
2. Don't use no double negatives.
3. Verbs has got to agree with their subjects.
4. Don't write run-on sentences they are hard to read.
5. About them sentence fragments.
6. Don't use commas, that aren't necessary.
7. A preposition is not a good word to end a sentence with.
8. Remember to not ever split infinitives.
9. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
10. Alway's use apostrophe's correctly.
11. Make each singular pronoun agree with their antecedents.
12. Join clauses good, like a conjunction should.
13. Proofread your writing to make sure you don't words out.
And, above all, avoid clichés like the plague.
From The Times Writer's Guide
--- UPDATE ---
A couple of other things.
First, John Yorke (BBC Controller of Continuing Drama Series and Head of Independent Drama, phew) gives a video interview at the BBC writersroom. Check it out. It's seven minutes long.
Staying with the writersroom, I saw this at English Dave's blog but they want to spread the word so:
Q&A: Writing for the BBC 2pm - 3.30pm Tuesday 15 August, Screen 3, Filmhouse
Interested in writing for the BBC? Want to find out about opportunities with BBC Scotland's Drama Department? Come along and put your questions on writing for BBC TV, Film and Radio to Kate Rowland, the BBC's Creative Director, New Writing, Anne Mensah, Head of Drama, BBC Scotland and Sandra MacIver, Executive Producer River City.
There will be an announcement about several forthcoming TV writing opportunities open to new writers. Free tickets can be reserved by phone 0131 228 4051 or in person at the Filmhouse, 88 Lothian Road, Edinburgh EH3 9BZ. Capacity is limited so book early!