You have to be smarter than your computer. The grammar checker, that is. You have to be smarter than word processing software.
Read any text of any length, and you will find an error. No one is Diva of the Universe (although some days I think I can come close). Errors happen.
As writers, however, we know that any error can throw the reader out of the story. That’s the LAST thing we want to happen.
The villain walks in and threatens the heroine. She calls him a “vial, contemptible troll.”
Vial? Vile is the intended word. That writer lost all credibility with one word.
That writer may be guilty of over-dependence on the spelling and grammar checker in the software.
MS Word and all other entities built off the same model, whether open shareware or something else, have become very sophisticated. However—and remember this point ~
The computer is still NOT intelligent.
Anyone who contends with intuitive texting, having words changed completely, will agree with that point. Computer programmers will input all sorts of code to handle specific grammar problems.
The “machine” can peg off on items that give expected problems, but the software doesn’t “know”; it’s just hitting a predetermined code for a grammar problem.
We do not help ourselves when we depend upon non-intelligent software to find mistakes for us. We still need to do the “grunt” work: print it out and read it, word for word. We won’t catch every mistake. We should catch enough.
“But my grammar is weak!” you cry.
Ah, I can help you.
We don’t want to communicate that we don’t care about our work. We want the reader to think we carefully chose every word. We should carefully choose every word.
For help, I give you this Blog: Grammar Monster. Tidbits of information about the ins and outs of those tricky grammar, usage, and mechanics rules that trip us up . . . especially that computer software.
And over at Writers Ink Books is a whole series of blogs with more tidbits about the craft of writing, from basic sentences to story craft and on to developing characters and images, and a few rules that even experienced writers don’t break . . . like Rule #1: Never lie to the reader. Try http://www.writersinkbooks.com
Do you want to check that I’m right? Here’s a sample lesson from my days of teaching–you know, when I had to prove to the students early in the year that I knew what I was talking about.