Your grammar must be perfect!
Depends on who you talk to and the specifics involved. Here is my take:
Generally speaking you want your grammar usage as correct as possible, but there are exceptions. For example, let’s say one of your characters only has a ninth grade education.
You would not want that character talking like a professor. For that matter, you really don’t want any of your characters to talk that way unless they actually are professors.
Now I don’t recommend that you try to imitate slang and accents, but just be cautious. Maybe allow a character to have a favorite saying. In Perished: The World That Was I had Methuselah with a favorite saying, “So God has said, so shall it be.”
Which brings up a related principle: Be consistent. If I later had someone else using that same phrase it could have been a jolt. Be consistent.
So here’s the principle: When you are dealing with conversation (or even thoughts) you can and should be less than perfect but consistent. Everything else should be perfect.
Aside from speaking, there is the matter of punctuation and spelling. With the tools available this should never be a problem, but it does sometimes. It is therefore necessary to check your spelling and punctuation as often as possible.
Be consistent. If Bob is talking like a country boy on page 2 and a professor on page 132, you better have shown a transformation. Your reader will spot inconsistencies!
The boys is clothed alike. This is poor grammar.
The boys are clothed alike. Much better.
“You guys look the same.” OK.
“The boys is clothed alike,” Martha said. OK, if this is consistent with Martha’s education.
Both my wife and I try to watch our grammar usage. One of the tools we use is Microsoft Word’s grammar checker. It’s not perfect, but it helps. Also, we use the spell check, but it is not always up-to-date.
Other resources are grammar books (especially older versions that really emphasized good grammar), and the internet.
Make use of as many resources as needed. And pay attention to grammar and punctuation when editing.
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R. Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured.