Proofreaders Marks

RESOURCES-TIPS: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.

If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn't matter a damn how you write.
- Somerset Maugham

All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary -- it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
- Somerset Maugham

Anecdotes don't make good stories. Generally I dig down underneath them so far that the story that finally comes out is not what people thought their anecdotes were about.
- Alice Munro

If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil -- but there is no way around them.
Isaac Asimov

To write fiction, one need a whole series of inspirations about people in an actual environment, and then a whole lot of work on the basis of those inspirations.
- Aldus Huxley

Get it down.  Take changes.  It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good.
- William Faulkner

Books aren't written, they're rewritten.  Including our own.  It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it.
- Michael Crichton

Any man who keeps working is not a failure.  He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he'll eventually make some kind of career for himself as a writer.
- Ray Bradbury

Resources Menu

Navigating In Your Novel

RESOURCES-TIPS: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.

If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn't matter a damn how you write.
- Somerset Maugham

All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary -- it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
- Somerset Maugham

Anecdotes don't make good stories. Generally I dig down underneath them so far that the story that finally comes out is not what people thought their anecdotes were about.
- Alice Munro

If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil -- but there is no way around them.
Isaac Asimov

To write fiction, one need a whole series of inspirations about people in an actual environment, and then a whole lot of work on the basis of those inspirations.
- Aldus Huxley

Get it down.  Take changes.  It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good.
- William Faulkner

Books aren't written, they're rewritten.  Including our own.  It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it.
- Michael Crichton

Any man who keeps working is not a failure.  He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he'll eventually make some kind of career for himself as a writer.
- Ray Bradbury

Navigating In Your Novel

Your New Best Friend, The Document Map

by Susan Gillett Domokos

You’re sitting in your chair, estranged from the rest of the household. (Not because you can’t stand the normal noise of your family, i.e. bellowing partner, screaming kids, blaring television, etc., but because they can’t stand the oddly vacant, zombie-like look that pervades your face every time you sit down to prove to the world that you’re a literary genius, and have therefore shoved you off into a nicely made up broom closet, with a single yellowed bulb swaying gently above your head, to be CREATIVE…)

Yes, there you sit. All alone. Plot twists you thought of at 3 a.m. in the morning taking the next train to Albuquerque (or worse, boarding the space shuttle for exploratory missions to the farthest reaches of the universe). You’re just wishing for a friendly interrogation or something, so you can actually get some thoughts in your head, other than all the stuff you need to do before tomorrow morning, the unfolded linen in front of you, or that your thighs are too fat.

Welcome to the life of a writer

If you HAVE chosen this solitary, yet strangely excruciating life, you need all the help you can get. So apart from doing your online grammar classes (what’s a preposition again?) here’s some not-to-be missed information and guidance on a wonderful feature in Microsoft Word, that promises to make booting around your lengthy manuscript (yes, yours) a dream.

I’m talking about the Document Map.

This is a feature that will enable you to navigate to any spot in your manuscript instantly. Even if you have a manuscript of a thousand pages, (Ha!) you will stay organized and be able to locate whatever section or passage you want. When you consider the alternative of scrolling through reams of pages, you’ll see the value in removing that frustration (at least) and getting on with the business of BEING CREATIVE.

So let’s get on to it.

What will I see on the screen when I use the Document Map?

When you utilize the document map, you will see two columns on your screen. On the left hand side will be a narrow column with the first words from different headings in your manuscript appearing in it. This is the “map” area. On the right side, the wide column, will be your document. These two columns can move independently of each other.

Where to start?

  • In the Ribbon, got to the VIEW menu.
  • Select Navigation from the SHOW options.

Start in your open document. Click the Document Map icon. (This icon looks like a magnifying glass on top of a Word document/form with a blue bar on top. It’s usually found by default on the standard toolbar (file, edit etc.) beside thes how/hide and the zoom box [100%, etc.]) If you move your cursor over the icons and wait a couple of seconds, a screen tip will appear, saying “Document Map”. So far, so good.  (Really, you knew you were brilliant…)

  • What will happen?

As already mentioned, the headings in your document will show up on the left side of the screen. When you click on those, they are hyper-linked to the corresponding spots in your document. If you click on Lesson 2, voila! You’re immediately transported to that spot in your document. (Beam me over, Scotty!) Yay.

Now, all this is pretty simple. Right? And as a rule of thumb, just remember that Word shows what it considers the HEADINGS, or outline-level paragraphs in the Document Map. Yes, techy-talk I know, but what that really means to you is that sometimes Word will NOT show what you want it to show, and this is where you need to take control of the situation, and make it do so. (Enjoy the control…you won’t get that with your publisher, or agent…at least not for a long while!)

To do this, you will have to format the chapter headings in your document to show up, AND you can also choose to format particular bits, probably beginnings of scenes to also show up, so you can navigate also within the chapter. (Remember this is all about making it easy for yourself! You’re a writer, you should be using your time and creative genius to pen those magnificent masterpieces, or…. You’re a writer and you need all the help you can get. (Whichever statement works at the moment – take your pick.)

Soooo, to format the chapter headings, how do I start?

  • Find the Style Menu in the Ribbon -To do this, you take advantage of another cool feature, and that’s the Style Feature. [Depending on your version of MS Word]  The Style box is on the standard toolbar again, usually to the left of the font box. (Typically you see this displaying the word “Normal” inside it.) If you click the drop down arrow on the right of this box, a whole list appears under it. Those are your default styles included by Microsoft Office. Such as “Heading 1, Default Paragraph font” etc. (There are tons more default styles than those that show up. If you want to see the entire list, hit “shift”, then the drop down arrow on the style box, and use your “down” or “up” keys to scroll the entire list. And that’s before you make up your own!)
  • Format the Headings – Once you’ve found the style box, here’s how to format your chapter headings: Select the heading in your article (i.e. “highlight” it). For our purposes, let’s say it says “Chapter One.”Click on click on the heading style [Heading 1 for your title, Heading 2 for your Chapter Title, Heading 3 for your Scene number].

The formatting or appearance will also have changed, so if you want, you can change heading back to proper Manuscript style,  Select the heading again (i.e. “Chapter One”).  Apply the desired font (Courier New, or whatever you use), center it, and change the font size to 12.

Now this will take care of your chapter headings. Easy. And now, they all show up within the Document Map, so you can hyperlink to any chapter you want instantly.

There is also a way to have the Document Map pick up subheadings within your chapter; ie. if you want it be able to immediately go to, say, a point of view change, without having to scroll through the whole chapter. Here’s the key. (Discovered by me on a Sunday morning that started out peaceful, went to raving lunacy as I tried to figure this out, then thankfully quieted down again.)

Say you want the beginning words of your paragraph “Gloria sighed as Adrian moved closer” to show up in the Document Map, and you figure if you select those words and format them to be heading 2, (the next level down) they will show up. HA! Fooled you! (Or rather Microsoft did…aren’t you used to it by now? :)) They won’t show up. Why? One of the vagaries of the document map I found is that you must select the whole paragraph for it to work. Every time you hit the enter key, Word considers that a paragraph, by the way. (So the words “Chapter One” are considered a paragraph, cause you hit “enter” after it.) Conversely, if you format the first 3 words of your paragraph to heading 2, Word will make the formatting changes to the first 3 words, but it will NOT show up in the document map. (Again, now that I’ve told you this, you will not have to waste a mindless hour and a half in front of the computer screen yelling, WHY? and pouting, but can apply that mindless hour to your plotting or editing or writing or being meaningful with your dh [dear husband] or whatever. So, here’s how to fix it.

Format the bits within your chapter to show up in the Document Map

Pick a paragraph or a beginning of a scene of POV change, the first line of which you would like to show up in the document map.

Select the whole paragraph. (“Highlight” it)

Click on the drop down arrow of the style box, and hit “Heading two”.

All done! Now the first few words of the paragraph will show up under Chapter X, in your Document Map. That’s great, but this has most likely changed the appearance of your paragraph too. And while it may look kind of cool, and funky, if you want the ms to look all neat and proper, you can then change the font etc. to your desired MS formatting. In other words,

Select (highlight) the paragraph again, and just change the font etc back to what you are using for the rest of the article.

Your bits will now show up in the document map, meaning you can immediately boot to those areas. Yay!

One last tidbit for all of you smart writers, if you’re interested. What if you don’t want to have to do the last step above, but just want the formatting to be what you want as soon as you apply the heading style? Well, how about creating a “style” of your own, so instead of clicking “Heading Two”, you click your own personal style, and it’s done?

To Create Your Own “Style”

[This is not recommended for manuals you submit electronically as publisher’s will not have your personally created styles available to them and it’s very frustrating to have to change styles in a manual — you don’t want to make them mad at you before they even get started. – Deanna Lilly]

Go the Format menu, and pick “Style” – (the “Style” dialog box pops up).

Then pick “New” – (the “New Style” dialog box pops up)

For “Name”, type a name you’ve chosen (I used Heading 2 MS), and,

It must say use the word ‘Heading’ as part of the style name, if you want it to show up in the Document Map.

It must also be a bit different than “Heading 2” or you’ll lose the default Word “Heading 2” one.)

For “Based on”, it can say “Heading 2”. “Style type” – should say “Paragraph”, then hit” Format” at the bottom of the dialog box.

Go to “Font”, make the desired changes, Hit “OK.”

Then, going back to “Format” at the bottom of the dialog box again, go to “Paragraph”, and make the desired changes (if you are writing an MS, you may be already using .3 as indentation, line spacing as ‘exactly’ 25 pt, etc. – just do what you are already using), and hit “OK” (this step is optional).

You’ll now be back at the “New Style” dialog box, and here MAKE SURE you check the box at the bottom that says “Add to template” (which means it will always be available for you in all your documents) before you leave this box.

Hit “Ok” in the “New Style” dialog box.

Hit “Close” in the “Style” dialog box.

Yay! (Check to see your new style listed in the Style box.)

Simply apply this style next time to your ENTIRE PARAGRAPH, and it will keep your normal manuscript formatting, but still show up as a “Heading Two” in the document map. Yay again!
If you need to, don’t forget you can right-click anywhere in the Document Map area, and select how many levels you want showing. And you’ll also get + boxes and – boxes beside your headings in the Document Map to expand the contents under “Chapter One” or collapse them. Lots of fun!

One last tip…Can’t help myself…. to select an entire paragraph within your document, just put your insertion point inside the paragraph, and triple click. Voila! All selected.

Hope this helps, all you fellow writers. Microsoft Word can be one of a writer’s best friends, and make life much simpler. And don’t forget, while you’re manipulating the software unmercifully, that you’re a pretty admirable person – lots of people SAY they want to write, or KNOW they could…but you’re one of the few that is actually taking the bull by the horns, and doing it!…with all it’s attendant learning curves in so many areas.

Till next time,
Sue Gillett

Ps. If you liked this article, send chocolate and masseuses who love what they do.

Resources Menu

Tightening Your Manuscript and Trimming the Word Count

RESOURCES-TIPS: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.

If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn't matter a damn how you write.
- Somerset Maugham

All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary -- it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
- Somerset Maugham

Anecdotes don't make good stories. Generally I dig down underneath them so far that the story that finally comes out is not what people thought their anecdotes were about.
- Alice Munro

If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil -- but there is no way around them.
Isaac Asimov

To write fiction, one need a whole series of inspirations about people in an actual environment, and then a whole lot of work on the basis of those inspirations.
- Aldus Huxley

Get it down.  Take changes.  It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good.
- William Faulkner

Books aren't written, they're rewritten.  Including our own.  It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it.
- Michael Crichton

Any man who keeps working is not a failure.  He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he'll eventually make some kind of career for himself as a writer.
- Ray Bradbury

Tightening Your Manuscript and Trimming the Word Count

by Deanna Lilly

Now that the mechanics of achieving 250 words and 25 lines per page are out of the way, the manuscript is complete and perfect (you didn’t forget to remove the line numbers before printing and sending your “baby” to your editor) and at last the wait is over. Finally, you get the long awaited letter back. Your editor has fallen in love with your story BUT, she/he wants you to cut your 100,000-page masterpiece to 90,000 pages.

Panic sets in. You break out in a cold-hot sweat. 10,000 words?!? How am I ever going to eliminate 10,000 of my precious words? This is where the search or “FIND” function in your word processing program becomes YOUR BEST FRIEND. It’s too-easy to believe how quickly you can eliminate words. You probably already did this and are actually preparing your second submission from a novel you’ve hidden in the closet awaiting on a few, minor changes. As conscientious writers we always follow the word count guidelines — right?

Both MSWord and WordPerfect have the FIND function in the same place. Click on EDIT in the menu bar and trace down to FIND or FIND and REPLACE. (I prefer to use FIND so I don’t accidentally replace the words until I have figured out what I’m going to do in place of them.) Fill in the FIND dialog box with the following search criteria and start chopping those words out. In the process you will discover ways to make your sentences and paragraphs stronger.

To search for a partial word or ending such as “ly” you type ly and a space — that insures the find function looks for only words that end in “ly” but you may also have to search for “ly. ” (the period followed by a space) to insure you get the ones on the end of the sentence. Yes — this is very time-consuming — lots of searches — and most will cause a stop and rewrite. Just remember all this when you begin your next book and you will not only fly through the writing process but it will be almost perfect and take you less time to edit. Remember, this is not to say you need to eliminate all words with these endings, just reduce the number in the manuscript as much as you can.

HERE’S THE DIRTY LAUNDRY TO WASH OUT

1. Search for and eliminate as many adverbs as possible – (all “ly” endings, etc.)

2. Avoid “just” and “so.” Completely delete these two words. They are just so unnecessary.

3. Search for the words “was” and “were” and eliminate every possible occurrence (in most cases this makes the sentence passive and you don’t want any more than 2% passive per chapter — the word count function in the TOOLS menu will give you passive percentages). Read your paragraph … how many times have you said was? Too many, I’ll bet. Write it like you talk… was is ok then. But remember, repetition of any word tends to bore your reader.

4. Eliminate every occurrence of “that” – unless it’s absolutely necessary (and that doesn’t mean replacing it with “which” – and learn the difference between the two words).

5. Make sure you use “had” only going into a flashback and once again coming out of the flashback or memory sequence. Find another word to replace had in every other use.

Example: He had to work late into the night.

Fix 1: He worked late into the night.

Fix 2: Fatigue tugged his eyelids. Mary’s life depended on him. For her sake, he got another cup of coffee.

6. Avoid over using the ending “ing.”

7. Vary the first word of each paragraph as well as the first word of every sentence. Do not let more than two paragraphs on a page start with the same word.

8. Do not let your characters talk aloud to themselves — unless they are a little bit crazy and it’s necessary to the plot.

9. Eliminate dialect [unless you know what you’re doing and have consulted a non-fiction source]. Think of Forest Gump here — it took me months to finish the book because the dialect drove me nuts — a few well chosen words that your character always uses is a great way of using dialect and not driving your reader crazy. (I’m not knocking the book, just making an observation about dialect.) Learn the difference between an accent and a dialect.

10. After all these searches, do a search on the words, “and, the, he, she, his, and her,” and see how many you can eliminate by either rewording your sentence or simply dropping out the word.

11. Avoid dialog tags – “he said, she said” make the preceding or following sentence show the action and who is speaking. (Sometimes you need a dialog tag.)

Example: “Can’t you ever be a proper wife?” Mark growled in anger.

Fix: Mark threw the plate of spaghetti she handed him against the wall with enough force to rattle the windows. “Can’t you ever be a proper wife?”

Yes, I know. That correction added words. If you eliminate the unnecessary stuff you have room for stronger sentences, even if they add words every now and then. And remember, these are simply suggestions, they are not written in stone. Your work must reflect your voice to be unique and sell.

Bye the way, when I am doing these searches, I hum the old song “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair” for the movie South Pacific. Corny, I know… but, oh well.

Good luck and good writing.

Resources Menu

Rules for Writers

RESOURCES-TIPS: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.

If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn't matter a damn how you write.
- Somerset Maugham

All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary -- it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
- Somerset Maugham

Anecdotes don't make good stories. Generally I dig down underneath them so far that the story that finally comes out is not what people thought their anecdotes were about.
- Alice Munro

If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil -- but there is no way around them.
Isaac Asimov

To write fiction, one need a whole series of inspirations about people in an actual environment, and then a whole lot of work on the basis of those inspirations.
- Aldus Huxley

Get it down.  Take changes.  It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good.
- William Faulkner

Books aren't written, they're rewritten.  Including our own.  It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it.
- Michael Crichton

Any man who keeps working is not a failure.  He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he'll eventually make some kind of career for himself as a writer.
- Ray Bradbury

Rules for Writers

From PPW (Panhandle Plains Writers) Amarillo, Texas

Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.

Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.

And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.

It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.

Avoid clichés like the plague. (They’re old hat)

Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.

Be more or less specific.

Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.

Also too, never ever use repetitive redundancies.

No sentence fragments.

Contractions aren’t necessary and shouldn’t be used.

Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.

Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.

One should NEVER generalize.

Comparisons are as bad as clichés.

Don’t use no double negatives.

Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.

One-word sentences? Eliminate.

Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.

The passive voice is to be ignored.

Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.

Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.

Kill all exclamation points!!!

Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.

Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth shaking ideas.

Use the apostrophe in it’s proper place and omit it when its not needed.

Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: Resist hyperbole; not on writer in a million can use it correctly.

Puns are for children, not groan readers.

Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.

Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.

Who needs rhetorical questions?

Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.

And finally .. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.

Resources Menu

Misused Words

RESOURCES-TIPS: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.

If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn't matter a damn how you write.
- Somerset Maugham

All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary -- it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
- Somerset Maugham

Anecdotes don't make good stories. Generally I dig down underneath them so far that the story that finally comes out is not what people thought their anecdotes were about.
- Alice Munro

If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil -- but there is no way around them.
Isaac Asimov

To write fiction, one need a whole series of inspirations about people in an actual environment, and then a whole lot of work on the basis of those inspirations.
- Aldus Huxley

Get it down.  Take changes.  It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good.
- William Faulkner

Books aren't written, they're rewritten.  Including our own.  It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it.
- Michael Crichton

Any man who keeps working is not a failure.  He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he'll eventually make some kind of career for himself as a writer.
- Ray Bradbury

Misused Words

By Deanna Lilly

Here is a list of regularly misused words and their appropriate uses. You might want to bookmark this page so you have ready access to which spelling you should be using.

A – An

“A” goes before consonant sounds. eg. A book, A treasure.

NOTE: it is the sound not the actual letter that makes the rule. i.e. A University.

“An” goes before a vowel sound. eg. AN apple, AN orangutan.

NOTE: the same exception applies here i.e. AN R.C.A. Television.

Accept – Except

“Accept” means to receive.

“Please ACCEPT your invitation.”

“Except” means to leave out.

“I will take all of those EXCEPT the blue one.”

Affect – Effect

“Affect” means to influence.

“Her reputation AFFECTED his opinion of her.”

“Effect” means result (n.) or to accomplish (v.)

“The EFFECT of my speech was minimal.” (n.)

“The new speaker EFFECTED a change in the audience.” (v.)

A Lot – Allot – Alot

A LOT functions as either a noun or an adverb, while ALLOT is a verb. ALOT is nothing, because it is not a real word.

A Lot

As a noun, A LOT means “a large extent,” “a large amount,” or “a large number.”
As an adverb, A LOT means “to a great extent” or “to a great degree.”

For example, “Jeremy has A LOT of pet piranhas”. (Lot is a noun in this example.)
For example, “He cares A LOT about them.” (A lot is an adverb in this example.)

Allot

Allot, a verb, meaning “to give out,” to distribute, to apportion.”
For example: “The chef ALLOTTED two squares of cornbread to each camper.

Alot

The word ALOT does not exist. It is often mistakenly written instead of “a lot”. For example:
I know alot about underwater basket weaving. WRONG
I know a lot about underwater basket weaving. CORRECT

All Ready – Already

“All Ready” is an adjective and means everyone is ready or prepared.

“We are ALL READY to leave.”

“Already” means previously.

“They have ALREADY left.”

All Right – Alright

“All Right” is the correct spelling.

“Alright” is not a word.

Among – Between

“Among” is used for three or more objects/people.

“The four of them divided it AMONG themselves.”

“Between” is used with 2 people.

“The two of them divided it BETWEEN themselves.”

NOTE: Between can also be used;

A) with more than 2 in a united situation i.e. “BETWEEN the four of them they raised more than enough money.”

B) For a comparison or opposition i.e. “There is a great deal of competition BETWEEN those four students, therefore it is difficult to choose BETWEEN them.

Amount – Number

“Amount” is used to refer to bulk items .

An AMOUNT of sugar, grain, flour.

OR quantity

An AMOUNT of money.

“Number” refers to objects which are thought of as a group of individual units.

A NUMBER of oranges, children, cows, glasses.

Most words following AMOUNT are singular while those following NUMBER are plural.

Bimonthly – Semimonthly

“Bimonthly” means every two months.

“Semimonthly” means twice a month.

Bring – Take

“Bring” is the action towards the writer or speaker.

“BRING that over here.”

“Take” is the action away from the writer or speaker.

“TAKE that with you when you leave.”

Continual – Continuous

“Continual” is an action that occurs over a period of time but has pauses.

“She nagged him CONTINUALLY.”

“Continuous” is an action that has no pauses.

“Her tapping was CONTINUOUS.”

Farther – Further

“Farther” is physical distance.

“She can jump FARTHER than he can.”

“Further” refers to degree or extent.

“Let’s discuss this FURTHER.”

I – e

“Mary (or she) and I need to work harder.”

(Test your sentence by dropping the person’s name, he or she. You would not say “Me need to work harder.”)

“It works for Bill and Me.”

(Test your sentence by dropping the name, You would not say “It works for I.” Also, me does not come before the other person (not me and Bill).

Its – It’s

“Its” is the possessive of It .

“The stove has lost ITS power.”

“It’s” is the contraction for It Is. [Say out loud “it is” and the rest of your sentence. If it sounds funny, you shouldn’t use the contraction.]

“IT’S too late to fix it.”

Their – There – They’re

“Their” is the possessive.

“It is THEIR special day tomorrow.”

“There” is the adverb and expletive.

“They plan to go THERE tomorrow because THERE is too much to do today.”

“They’re” is the contraction of They Are.

“THEY’RE planning to have a good time.”

Who’s – Whose

“Who’s” is the contraction of Who Is or Who Has.

“WHO’S coming with you?”

“Whose” is the possessive form of Who.

“WHOSE house is it anyway?”

You’re – Your

“You’re” is the contraction of You Are.

“YOU’RE going to the zoo?”

“Your” is the possessive form of You.

“YOUR party was great.”

Resources Menu

Changing Double Hyphens to EM Dashes in Word

RESOURCES-TIPS: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.

If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn't matter a damn how you write.
- Somerset Maugham

All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary -- it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
- Somerset Maugham

Anecdotes don't make good stories. Generally I dig down underneath them so far that the story that finally comes out is not what people thought their anecdotes were about.
- Alice Munro

If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil -- but there is no way around them.
Isaac Asimov

To write fiction, one need a whole series of inspirations about people in an actual environment, and then a whole lot of work on the basis of those inspirations.
- Aldus Huxley

Get it down.  Take changes.  It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good.
- William Faulkner

Books aren't written, they're rewritten.  Including our own.  It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it.
- Michael Crichton

Any man who keeps working is not a failure.  He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he'll eventually make some kind of career for himself as a writer.
- Ray Bradbury

Changing Double Hyphens to EM Dashes in Word

By Donna Clayton

  • Click Tools in the Menu Bar.
  • Click Options
  • Click on Auto Format
  • Click Auto Format As You Type
  • Tick off box that changes double hyphens to an em dash.
  • Then click tab Auto Format tab
  • Tick off the appropriate box

You must make the change in both places.

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Edit Easier

RESOURCES-TIPS: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.

If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn't matter a damn how you write.
- Somerset Maugham

All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary -- it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
- Somerset Maugham

Anecdotes don't make good stories. Generally I dig down underneath them so far that the story that finally comes out is not what people thought their anecdotes were about.
- Alice Munro

If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil -- but there is no way around them.
Isaac Asimov

To write fiction, one need a whole series of inspirations about people in an actual environment, and then a whole lot of work on the basis of those inspirations.
- Aldus Huxley

Get it down.  Take changes.  It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good.
- William Faulkner

Books aren't written, they're rewritten.  Including our own.  It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it.
- Michael Crichton

Any man who keeps working is not a failure.  He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he'll eventually make some kind of career for himself as a writer.
- Ray Bradbury

Edit Easier

by Megan Potter

Editing is not a lukewarm writing stage. Either it’s your favorite part about writing or you dread it. Personally, I sort of like this stage. If writing were pottery I would compare writing the rough draft to making the clay, I see editing as my opportunity to mold it into something recognizable.

Writing is created by so many elements, that means that editing has to happen on many levels. When you edit you will be watching for spelling, grammar, word choice, comprehension, tenses, plotting, character development, point of view, and voice. Basically, you are checking to make sure everything about your work sounds good and has a nice flow. You should be prepared to edit one piece three or more times.

I always write my initial drafts out longhand. When I am “in the mood to write” there is just something about pen and paper that completes the process for me. Through experience though I have found another benefit to my habit of having a long handed original. I have noticed that the work I have taken the time to write out first is more organized and has better quality overall. While the pieces that I type directly into the computer need much more editing to make them flow well. That’s because my work gets edited the first time around when I type the story up. As I read and type I naturally fix basic mistakes in structure, spelling and grammar. This makes a cleaner copy. Of course that doesn’t mean that you should stop typing your rough drafts if that is your habit. It is simply to say that your first edit can just involve a quick read over.

For your first time through all you should do is read the piece over and mark the basic errors that catch your eye. You’ll find spelling, typos, grammar, and the occasional sentence/paragraph structure problems. You can correct these changes as you go, but if you notice larger problems such as plot or character you don’t want to take the time to stop and try to fix them. Just mark where the problems are or where changes may need to be made and go on reading. I do this first basic type of edit as I type and again after it’s typed. This way I can catch typos and bigger problems I couldn’t see before.

Now that you’ve typed in your corrections you are going to do your second edit. You are going to need to read it over again, closely, looking for major problems. Check for consistency in point of view, voice and tense, among other things. You’ll also need to watch for the aforementioned issues such as plot and character development. If you had marked some problem areas on the first run through you will need to keep these areas in mind this time.

Watch for ideas for correcting the problems and complications that may arise from altering certain places. Think about what else will need to be removed or changed if you alter or remove the problem area. Also watch for conflict that may arise from your new idea. Once you’ve read it through and you feel confident you’ve found all the areas the rewrite will touch go ahead and start playing around with your new ideas and rewriting the troublesome sections as needed.

Once you’ve typed in those changes you’ll want to read it one more time for typos, spelling and grammar to make sure that your rewrites are smooth. If you are satisfied that you’ve solved the problem and you’ve caught all the small errors you can put the piece away for now. If you find it’s not working keep at it until you are happy, or until you are too frustrated to be effective. It happens that sometimes you get too close to your work. You will either become blind to the flaws or you will become frustrated with your inability to find a solution to the problems that you can plainly see. This is a normal reaction and comes from rereading and rewriting the same thing over and over again. Once you get like this there is no point in going on. Put the piece away for a few days, weeks or months, whatever you need to distance yourself and be able to look at it with fresh eyes. Then start editing and rewriting again. You’ll repeat stages one and two until you are happy with what you have and feel ready to send it out.

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High Hopes–Avoiding Common Mistakes

RESOURCES-TIPS: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.

If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn't matter a damn how you write.
- Somerset Maugham

All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary -- it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
- Somerset Maugham

Anecdotes don't make good stories. Generally I dig down underneath them so far that the story that finally comes out is not what people thought their anecdotes were about.
- Alice Munro

If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil -- but there is no way around them.
Isaac Asimov

To write fiction, one need a whole series of inspirations about people in an actual environment, and then a whole lot of work on the basis of those inspirations.
- Aldus Huxley

Get it down.  Take changes.  It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good.
- William Faulkner

Books aren't written, they're rewritten.  Including our own.  It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it.
- Michael Crichton

Any man who keeps working is not a failure.  He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he'll eventually make some kind of career for himself as a writer.
- Ray Bradbury

High Hopes–Avoiding Common Mistakes

by Margaret Terhune

Beginners are by nature inexperienced and prone to making mistakes. Part of any learning process involves working through trial and error towards achievement. Novice writers are no exception. There are, however, many common mistakes the beginner can avoid. I have grouped these into three main categories: not researching enough, not writing enough and not revising enough.

Any writing course worth its salt will teach the writer to research both the manuscript’s material and its ultimate destination. As far as the text goes, levels of fact-finding will vary depending on the subject. A non-fiction piece must be thoroughly researched, with all sources listed in a complete bibliography. Fiction writers should research the background to their story, unless the author is writing about something very familiar. For example, it’s hard to depict a cattle auction if the closest you’ve come to a cow is a hamburger. Ask questions, consult experts, take the time to get the little details right.

Editors complain that authors frequently send out manuscripts with no regard to the specialty of a particular publishing house or magazine. Research the publishers before you send them your work. Visit libraries, book stores, book fairs, writing conferences and write down lists of publishers who produce work in a similar genre and vein to your own. Consult the Writer’s Market listings for details of submission procedures. Write or phone publishers for their submission guidelines. Many list their guidelines on-line for immediate accessibility. Pay attention to limitations: if a publisher or journal doesn’t accept submissions during a specific time of the year, save yourself the postage and don’t send them something until they’re reading again.

The most important thing that a writer can do is write. This may sound obvious, but many beginner writers spend too much time preparing to write, thinking about writing or explaining why they don’t have time to write. Writing, like any craft, improves with experience. Manuscripts don’t fall from the sky – at least they don’t in my neighborhood – but must be produced. Writers who spend the majority of their time in classes or at conventions won’t have the time to put what they learn into practice. Writing courses and conferences are wonderful tools for support and knowledge but cannot become the full extent of a writer’s experience.

The final area for mistakes is in the revision process. Many beginning writers do not revise their work thoroughly but send it out full of errors. After writing a piece, put it away for a short time then go through it for spelling and grammatical errors. Run a spell check, but verify everything yourself again. Spell checks don’t pick up many common spelling mistakes or missing words. Leave the piece alone again for a longer time. When you feel ready to look at it with a fresh perspective, examine the work line by line for mistakes and also for content. Read it aloud. Which parts need amplifying? Which parts need shortening or cutting? Often the revision process calls for a complete re-write; this is all part of writing. Take the finished product, check it for spelling and grammar mistakes once more. Be sure to check your cover letter for mistakes, too, as this is the first thing the editor reads. First impressions are all-important in the busy world of publishing.

With a little extra effort and attention to detail, the new writer can avoid many of the common mistakes described here. Remember, only through practice and patience can a writer perfect his or her craft.

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And Sammy, too? Oh, No!

RESOURCES-TIPS: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.

If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn't matter a damn how you write.
- Somerset Maugham

All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary -- it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
- Somerset Maugham

Anecdotes don't make good stories. Generally I dig down underneath them so far that the story that finally comes out is not what people thought their anecdotes were about.
- Alice Munro

If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil -- but there is no way around them.
Isaac Asimov

To write fiction, one need a whole series of inspirations about people in an actual environment, and then a whole lot of work on the basis of those inspirations.
- Aldus Huxley

Get it down.  Take changes.  It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good.
- William Faulkner

Books aren't written, they're rewritten.  Including our own.  It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it.
- Michael Crichton

Any man who keeps working is not a failure.  He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he'll eventually make some kind of career for himself as a writer.
- Ray Bradbury

And Sammy, too? Oh, No!

By Jane MacDonald

You think I don’t have trouble with grammar? Everybody has trouble with grammar. But my biggest problem is with punctuation.

When I was a little tot, I was taught that when you put “too” at the end of a sentence, you put a comma in front of it. Simple. Here’s an example. “I like artichokes, too.”

Life went on. I wrote a couple of million words. Being a dutiful person, I always put a comma before the “too” at the end.

After many years, I took up writing fiction and joined a world-renowned writers’ group — the Internet Writing Workshop. It was, and is, wonderful. Most of the critiques I write are, and always have been, line by line, and part of that has always been correcting bad punctuation. As time passed people began asking me to help them with that arcane subject. Because I am a cautious person, careful to avoid doing anything that might harm my spotless reputation, I began to try to learn more about it. I came to think I was pretty good at it, and a few other people thought the same. But everybody knows that pride goeth before a fall.

More and more writers seemed to ignore that rule about putting commas before “too.” Inserting them where needed, I used up my comma supply many times, and had to get more from a cut-rate online discounter in Switzerland. But I persevered. And then one day the worst happened. I saw a “too” without a comma in a published novel. Of course I charged it up to bad editing; it was obviously an aberration. Surely.

But it happened again. And again. Finally, to my utter horror, I found my attention riveted on a story in the New York Times–even there a writer had omitted that sacred comma. I fell prostrate with grief. I knew the political world was a shambles; my church was falling apart; the economy had nosedived. Even Martha Stewart and Sammy Sosa were in trouble. But this! O tempora.  O mores.  When punctuation begins to slip, Hell is the next stop.

I am not, however, the helpless type. It was time to bring in reinforcements. From the shelf over the computer came Bryan A. Garner’s “A Dictionary of Modern American Usage.” Looked up commas. Nada–not a word about “too.” Hauled over R. W. Burchfield’s “Fowler’s Modern English Usage: Third Edition,” the best currently available across the pond. Nothing. Now, this was getting serious. Back to Wilson Follett’s “Modern American Usage,” old but worthy. I look up “too”–nothing. “Also”–still nothing. “Commas”–zilch.

Amid all this, I am reading, a chapter at a time, for fun, David Crystal’s “Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language.” This guy is a player–a famous linguist. And I run across a sentence without that comma where it belongs. I’m shaken, but I rally–can’t trust them damn limeys.

Somewhere, no telling, I hear about “disjuncts.” None of my books talks about them, but I’m hot on the trail. I’ve already checked the Commnet grammar guide on the Net http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/ and found nothing useful, but I find “disjunct” in the index. Oh, goody!

“Although it usually modifies the verb, we could say that it modifies the entire clause, too. Notice how ‘too’ is a disjunct in the sentence immediately before this one . . . .” Joy abounding! I am exonerated! Now when I stick that comma in, I know what I’m doing, and anybody who gives me trouble, I can shoot them down the way an F-16 does some crappy prop job. Fire off a URL and watch them spin in. Disjunct–a beautiful word.

But you know, I am not totally comfortable. I can’t quite ignore that Crystal fellow. His book is so good. I’m learning so much from it! I wonder–could he be right? And then usage is so sloppy; it does change. Maybe ten years from now all the respectable houses will have lost that comma, and then where I’ll be? Oh, well. Until that day comes, I’ll keep fighting the good fight. And I’ll win, too! I think.

P. S.  I’m now working on proper usage of “blonde.”

_________________

Editors note:  The rule for using Exclamation Points is only one in every 450 words.  Think of them like canned laughter.  If you need one then the point written was not strong enough.

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Achieving 250 Words / 25 Lines Per Page

RESOURCES-TIPS: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.

If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn't matter a damn how you write.
- Somerset Maugham

All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary -- it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
- Somerset Maugham

Anecdotes don't make good stories. Generally I dig down underneath them so far that the story that finally comes out is not what people thought their anecdotes were about.
- Alice Munro

If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil -- but there is no way around them.
Isaac Asimov

To write fiction, one need a whole series of inspirations about people in an actual environment, and then a whole lot of work on the basis of those inspirations.
- Aldus Huxley

Get it down.  Take changes.  It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good.
- William Faulkner

Books aren't written, they're rewritten.  Including our own.  It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it.
- Michael Crichton

Any man who keeps working is not a failure.  He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he'll eventually make some kind of career for himself as a writer.
- Ray Bradbury

Achieving 250 Words / 25 Lines Per Page

Formatting Manuscripts

By Deanna Lilly

These are generic formatting options to achieve the basics.  Always check with the Editor/Publisher’s Tip Sheet for formatting options and the style they want.

General Typing

Remember do not put an extra line between paragraphs.  Hit the return. Indent the first sentence 5 spaces (use the Tab key).  If you manually add 5 spaces it makes it a nightmare for the publisher to convert you manuscript to their publishing format.  You don’t’ want them angry at you for not knowing the basics.

Fonts and Margins

In order to achieve the ideal format for novel submission, your must strive for 250 words per page, with margins at one inch all around (some editors want a left margin of one and one-half inch) using either Courier 12pt or Times New Roman 14pt fonts. Several editors have told me that Courier 12pt is easier to read. And, the last thing we want to do is give an editor a headache from eyestrain as he/she reads our manuscript. I am sure some of the following “tricks” can benefit even the seasoned writer.

You sit down at your computer, set your margins and begin counting lines. The tips of your fingers smudge your nice clean screen with the oozing chocolate you’ve just eaten as a source of inspiration. Unbelieving, you go to another page and count again only to discover a variance of 23 to 28 lines per page depending on the word processing program you use (MSWord or WordPerfect). Don’t panic–there’s an easy solution to achieving exactly 25 lines per page.

Line Spacing

SOLUTION – MSWord: Click on FORMAT in the menu bar, trace down and select PARAGRAPH, make sure you are on the INDENTS AND SPACING tab and go to the center section of the dialog box that says SPACING. Find the little box that says LINE SPACING and click on the down arrow. Then, click on EXACTLY and in the little box to the right change the 12pt to 24pt (you can double click on the number or drag select it or simply delete the number part. If you remove part of the “pt”–remove all of it), then type in the number 24. When you press enter or click on OK the “pt” will return. (Note: this number could vary depending on your printer’s internal setups.)

SOLUTION – WordPerfect: Click on FORMAT in the menu bar, trace over and down to LINE then click on SPACING and change the 1.0 to 1.86 and that will guarantee you exactly 25 lines per page.

Counting Lines

For a quick and easy solution to the problem of counting lines, turn your line numbering on until you are ready to do the final print of the manuscript to send to the editor. (Turning off line numbering–you follow the same steps and remove the check mark, or deselect the option.)

SOLUTION – MSWord: Click FILE in the menu bar, trace down and click PAGE SETUP. In the dialog box, click on the LAYOUT TAB then click on the LINE NUMBER button in the lower left corner. In the next dialog box place a check, or click, in the ADD LINE NUMBER box. The default is to number the lines on each page from 1-25 (or more if your setups are off). You can change that option to sequentially number every line but it makes tracking on the page a little harder.

SOLUTION – WordPerfect: Click FORMAT in the menu bar, trace to and select LINE, then trace over and select LINE NUMBERING. In the dialog box select TURN LINE NUMBERING ON. You may want to adjust the position of the line number so that it is closer to the paragraph margin–the options is located in the center of the dialog box (POSITION FROM LEFT EDGE OF PAGE). Use the up arrow to reduce the distance from the margin edge.

Windows and Orphans

There is one more trick you want to make sure and do to insure you get 25 lines per page. You MUST turn off the widows and orphans lines. Widows and Orphans cause the paragraph to automatically move at least two lines to the next page to prevent a single line ending a paragraph on a page. Editors are not concerned about the single line; they want the 25 lines per page regardless of an orphan line.

SOLUTION – MSWord: Click FORMAT in the menu bar, trace down and click on PARAGRAPH. This time in the dialog box you want to click on the LINE AND PAGE BREAK tab. Deselect (remove) every check so that all boxes are empty. The Widow and Orphan option is the top box, but you do not want any of the options active for this type of manuscript typing.

SOLUTION – WordPerfect: Click FORMAT in the menu bar. Trace down and select KEEP TEXT TOGETHER then deselect (uncheck) all the remaining options in the following dialog box.

Now your lines will end up exactly at 25 lines per page and your word count will average 250. Some pages will have fewer words, some a few more but that is acceptable. Good luck and good writing.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Special Instructions for Harlequin/Silhouette submissions: The standard 1″ margin/250 wpp doesn’t work with the way H/S calculates words per page. To them, a page with one-inch margins all around averages up to 12 words per line, times 25 lines per page, is 300 wpp (no matter how much of the page is dialogue instead of narrative). If you are submitting to H/S, go with their word count formula and set both of your side margins to 1.25″ to get 10 words per line and thus, 250 wpp.  — Contributed by Shrley Jump

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