Good Grammar Directory 623 members · 1,821 stories
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Fistfire
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Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents
Q1. Why do you only judge a story based off of just the first 500 words?
Q2: What if an author “cheats” and only cleans up the first 500 words of a story just to get into the Directory, but then the rest of the story’s grammar is atrocious?
Q3: How can you claim to have quality stories in the directory if I found a story in the directory that was grammatically correct but that still was bad?
Q4: Why do you only accept stories with three or fewer errors? Why not make it five or fewer? One or fewer? How about NO errors?
Q5: Do you grade on anything not listed in the ten common mistakes on the front page?
Q6: Do you grade on stylistic errors, such as passive voice or run-on sentences?
Q7: How do you handle sentence fragments? Those can be either a stylistic choice or an error.
Q8: How do you deal with characters with grammatically incorrect accents, such as Applejack?
Q9: Hey, (insert the name of a popular fic here) isn’t in the Directory! What gives?
Q10: How do I get selected as a pre-reader?
Q11: Why are there so many stories? How do you expect me to sift through them all?
Q12: There’s a story in the Directory which has more than three errors in the first 500 words. Why is that, and what should I do? Will you take the story off?

Q1: Why do you only judge a story based off of the first 500 words? Shouldn’t you read more than 500 words of a story before coming to a conclusion about its grammar?

A: There are two reasons that we do this.
1. It would be too time consuming for us to read more than that. The average story takes about five minutes to pre-read and include in the relevant folders. Multiply that by the dozens of submissions that we get everyday, and that’s several hours of reading a day. If we upped it to 1,000 words for instance, then that would multiply the amount of work that we have to do.
2. You only have one chance to make a good first impression. First impressions are key, and if the very beginning of your story isn’t grammatically correct, how can you expect your readers to believe that the rest of the story will be, as well? Studies have shown that the average person makes judgments VERY quickly, within a few seconds. So the first 500 words is a good benchmark for that.

Q2: What if an author “cheats” and cleans up the first 500 words of a story just to get into the Directory, but then the rest of the story’s grammar is atrocious?

A: Well, that’s obviously a risk that has to be accepted. Sure, an author could do that. But if an author manages to get two or fewer errors out of 500 words, I figure that by that point, he or she has a good enough grasp of grammar to not make the same mistakes in other places in the story. What you view as “cheating” is actually a valuable exercise for the author. Practice makes perfect, and when the author writes in the future, he will likely not make those same mistakes as often.

I suppose that authors could get proof-readers to fix the story for them and not learn anything themselves, but proof-readers tend to fix more than just the first 500 words anyway.

Q3: I found a story in the directory that I didn’t like! How on earth did it get into the directory? How can you claim to have quality stories here if I read this rubbish!

A: We make no claims as to the quality of the storytelling, characters, settings, plots, or any other aspect of the stories that we grade besides grammar. A bad story can still have good grammar. However, the reverse is not true: a GOOD story will never have BAD grammar.

Yes, there will be “bad” stories that find their way into the directory. But I guarantee that the average quality of stories that you read here will be far above the average quality of stories that are not included. Authors who take their time to ensure that their stories have proper grammar usually tend to also ensure that their stories are well-written.

Q4: Why three or more errors? Why not four, five, six, seven...? Hell, why not NONE, or just one or two?

A: Because we don’t want to be too lenient, but we don’t want to be too restrictive. Two errors in 500 words isn’t a lot to ask for. If you submitted a story with just ONE error per 500 words to Equestria Daily, for instance, they’d laugh you off the site. Yet many authors on Fimfiction have trouble staying at under TWENTY errors per 500 words. On the other hoof, no one is perfect. Writers aren’t perfect, and neither are we as pre-readers! The three errors is as much to give ourselves leeway as to give the author leeway.

As to why three errors instead of five, or two? Three is a number that I believe is a middle ground between the near-perfection that a real-world publishing house (or EQD) would accept, and the poorly-written, grammatically incoherent stories that Fimfiction accepts.

Q5: Do you grade on anything other than the ten common mistakes listed on the front page?

A: Yes. Any grammatical mistake can be counted as an error. The list on the front page is not meant to be comprehensive, but it includes the ten most common errors that I see in stories on this site. Chances are that if you don’t violate any of the “ten commandments,” your story will pass.

Q6: Do you grade on stylistic errors, such as passive voice or run-on sentences?

A: We don’t grade on passive voice. We may count a run-on sentence as an error if it is particularly egregious. I leave discretion for that up to the pre-readers, but we only count off for run-on sentences if they’re really bad. If it could be its own paragraph, let alone a sentence, then yes, we count that as an error. If it just really could stand to be broken up, but it is coherent enough, then that’s not a grammar error, just a style error.

Q7: How do you handle sentence fragments, given that they can either be errors or a stylistic choice?

This is another area where I ask pre-readers to use their judgment. For instance,

The apple fell from the tree. Applejack looked at it. Golden delicious. Her favorite.

Even though “golden delicious” and “her favorite” are not technically sentences, this is obviously a stylistic choice on the part of the author. Though it might not be the best stylistic choice, no error is counted.

But, in this instance
Applejack looked over the fields. As she was coming home from the barn.
That is not a stylistic choice, but rather an error. This should be one sentence.

Q8: How do you deal with characters with accents, such as Applejack?

You may write accents however you wish. However, you must be internally consistent. If you have Applejack say, “Ah am goin’ to the barn” in one paragraph, but then “I am going to the barn” in the next, that would count as an error. Two errors in that example, actually.

Q9: Why isn’t (insert name of popular or well-liked fic) in the Directory? I love that story!

A: One of three reasons.
1. No one has added it to the user submissions folder. If we don’t know about a story, we can’t include it. We do try to be proactive and search for popular fics, but there’s thousands of stories on this site, and we can’t find them all by ourselves. If you want to see a story on here, submit it!
2. It’s in the user submissions folder, but we haven’t gotten around to grading it yet. Be patient, as backlogs have been known to happen.
3. We have graded it, but it does not meet our quality standards as of yet. Of course, the author may fix the fic and have it included.

As of July 2nd, 2013, we have graded each of the top ten most-viewed stories on the site, and have either included them or not included them appropriately.

Q10: How do I become a pre-reader?

A: Get selected by me, CartsBeforeHorses. If I notice you and think you’d make a good pre-reader, I’ll extend you the offer. Or, if you want to be a pre-reader and I haven’t noticed you, send me a PM with a link to your stories. That way I can read them over and see if you have what it takes to be a pre-reader.
ADDEDNUM: In his absence, you can contact me here.

Q11: There are SO MANY STORIES! How do you expect us to browse through them all?

A: There are so many stories because this is meant to be an alternative to the front page of Fimfiction. You can browse through them all in the same way you would browse on the front page of Fimfiction: by how recently the stories were updated, by their rating, or by the date they were added. Unfortunately, you can’t do keyword searches within groups. If you want to do that, go bug Knighty and tell him to implement that feature.

Q12: I found a story that was posted to the directory that had more than two errors in the first 500 words. Why is that, and what should I do? Will you remove the story?

A: It could be for one of three reasons.
1. The author has edited the beginning of the story, and has added to it since we graded it. Perhaps they have inserted a prologue, whereas our grading was based on chapter one, which happened to be more grammatically sound than the prologue.
2. Something slipped by our pre-readers. We aren’t perfect.
3. On August 25th, 2013, we changed our standards to be stricter. We used to allow stories with three or fewer grammar errors, but now it is two or fewer (three strikes, you’re out). These standards don’t apply retroactively, and any stories submitted to us before that date might still be grandfathered in under the older, more lenient standards.

If that happens, we don’t take the story off of the Directory. Once a story is on, it’s on. We ask that this group be self-policing, and that you post a comment to the story to tell the author what the errors are. I’m sure that the author will fix it. The same goes for if you find errors anywhere else in the story besides the first 500 words. Most authors are more than happy to correct any errors that you point out.

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