Tag Archives: All Things Editorial

The Exclamation Mark

The exclamation mark (!) is used in place of a period to add emphasis. The exclamation mark is used to express surprise, disbelief or extreme emotion and can turn a statement into a powerful one. It is used to grab your attention, and is used primarily in dialogue text to indicate excitement or astonishment. (“No!” he yelled. “I want it now!”)

The exclamation mark is used in place of a question mark to end a rhetorical question when no answer is expected. (“Isn’t she adorable!”)

The exclamation mark can be used following a single word to express intense feeling.

(Congratulations!) When using the word “oh,” an exclamation mark can be used to follow the word to add emphasis. (“Oh!  I didn’t see that!”)

The exclamation mark is used with words that describe sounds. (All day long the dog’s woof! could be heard in her garage.)

To add extra emphasis, a non-standard punctuation mark called an interrobang (^), which was created in the 1960s, merges the question mark with the exclamation mark. This punctuation mark was first used in publishing and advertising firms, and was not readily available on a typewriter. Therefore, it did not become a standard punctuation mark. Microsoft has it available in their Wingdings 2 set of fonts.  In some publications, you will see a question mark followed by an exclamation mark. (“Can you believe what he’s done?!”)

Many publishers do not use the exclamation mark at all, claiming strong writing will make it unnecessary and down-right distracting.

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Revision Tips for Writers

  1. Revise big stuff first, make small edits later. This doesn’t mean you should not correct obvious typos and grammar errors as you notice them. However, you shouldn’t be actively tinkering with word choice until after you’ve nailed down the structure of your piece.
  2. Put the manuscript down and walk away. Writers need at least a little distance from their manuscripts before jumping into revision.
  3. Scan the whole manuscript without reading. Scanning can make big problems more obvious than a writer might not notice when reading closely.
  4. Read carefully. Take your time and read every word. Then, read it out loud. This will help you catch obvious errors and check for smoothness or the “flow.”
  5.  Look for ways to be more concise with your language. Can you turn a 15-word sentence into an 8-word sentence? Can you turn an 8-sentence paragraph into a 5-sentence paragraph? Less almost always means more for the reader.
  6. Use active voice over passive voice. There may be occasions for using passive voice, but for the most part be active.
  7. Vary sentence structure. Even if it’s grammatically correct, using the same pattern over and over again will make your manuscript boring. Don’t feel like you have to be creative with every sentence; just check that you’re not falling into a monotonous pattern.
  8. Save each round of revisions as its own file. Saving these files provides a record of your changes and shows your development of the story.
  9. Have someone read the manuscript. The more eyes the better, because they’ll be more objective when reading. It is always best to ask someone other than a relative, who naturally will be biased.
  10. Print the manuscript for a final edit. There are things you’ll catch on paper that you won’t on the screen.

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Et al.

Origin of et al.

Latin et alii (masculine), et aliae (feminine), or et alia (neuter)

That is why et al. is used—simpler, right?

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Polish Your Work Before Submitting: Six Revision Tips

1. Listen to your critique group. When I first began to write, I was fortunate to meet some wonderful writers who became fabulous friends. We met regularly to work on our manuscripts. We worked to give constructive feedback to one another and because we listened to each other, our writing got better. We listened when the group told us the funny parts weren’t really all that funny. We listened when the group thought our chapters were too long. We listened when the group couldn’t relate to our characters. Listening to the group’s honest feedback made us dig deeper into our stories, making them stronger and better.
2. Listen to other authors. Most writers know that writing begins with reading, but some writers don’t take that to heart. If you want to write funny picture books, read funny picture books. If you want write a mystery series, read mysteries series. If you want to write children’s poetry, read the children’s poetry that’s being published. But when you read the genre you’re trying to write, don’t just read it as a reader would, read it as a writer would and “listen.” Really listen to the way the author tells the story. Then go to your story and see if yours sounds the same way when you really listen to it. Doing this might help you see how your story is falling short.
3. Listen to writing teachers. If you have the opportunity, take a writing class or go to a writing workshop or conference. Learn everything you can firsthand from experts, but don’t just go and take notes and network. Really listen to what the experts are trying to teach you about writing and then go home and do it in your own writing. If the classes, conferences and workshops are out of your reach, read books about writing or watch a DVD. You can learn plenty if you really listen and apply what is being taught to your own manuscript.
4. Listen to your editor. When you finally get your big break, and an editor wants to work with you, be sure you’re ready to listen. Don’t be defensive. Don’t be argumentative. Listen. Listen to their feedback. They love your story or they wouldn’t be working with you. They want what’s best for you and your story, and good editors always have a vision for what your book can really be. Listen to them and let them guide you. If you do, in the end, your book will be more than you ever imagined it could be.
5. Listen to yourself. Throughout all this listening, as you are learning and taking advice from all of these sources, don’t forget to be true to yourself and your story. You don’t always have to take everyone’s suggestions. If after you listen, you realize someone’s advice is not what’s truly best for your story, stand your ground and stay true to yourself. But remember, standing true in this way, can only be done if you’ve first taken the time to really listen.
6. Listen to reviews. When your book is finally published, lots of people will have lots of things to say about it. Some good. Some maybe not so good. Listen to it all and glean what you can from it. Use it as a learning experience for the new project you’re working on. Maybe the reviews of your present book will teach you things that will make your next book even better.

Revision requires patience and can even be painful at times, but it’s the only way your writing will ever improve. Following these six keys to revision will help you find the path that leads to making your story as wonderful as it can be.

From: Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents Blog

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Writing Creative Non-fiction

There are many different genres within creative nonfiction: memoir, biography, autobiography, and personal essays, just to name a few.

Here are six simple guidelines to follow when writing creative nonfiction:
1. Get your facts straight. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing your own story or someone else’s. If readers, publishers, and the media find out you’ve taken liberty with the truth of what happened, you and your work will be ridiculed and scrutinized. You’ll lose credibility. If you can’t help yourself from lying, then think about writing fiction instead.
2. Issue a disclaimer. Most nonfiction is written from memory, and we all know that human memory is deeply flawed. It’s almost impossible to recall a conversation word for word. You might forget minor details, like the color of a dress or the make and model of a car. If you aren’t sure about the details but are determined to include them, be upfront and plan on issuing a disclaimer that clarifies the creative liberties you’ve taken.
3. Consider the repercussions. If you’re writing about other people (even if they are secondary figures), you might want to check with them before you publish your nonfiction. Some people are extremely private and don’t want any details of their lives published. Others might request that you leave certain things out, which they feel are personal. Otherwise, make sure you’ve weighed the repercussions of revealing other people’s lives to the world. Relationships have been both strengthened and destroyed as a result of authors publishing the details of other people’s lives.
4. Be objective. You don’t need to be overly objective if you’re telling your own, personal story. However, nobody wants to read a highly biased biography. Book reviews for biographies are packed with heavy criticism for authors who didn’t fact-check or provide references and for those who leave out important information or pick and choose which details to include to make the subject look good or bad.
5. Pay attention to language. You’re not writing a textbook, so make full use of language, literary devices, and storytelling techniques.
6. Know your audience. Creative nonfiction sells, but you must have an interested audience. A memoir about an ordinary person’s first year of college isn’t especially interesting. Who’s going to read it? However, a memoir about someone with a learning disability navigating the first year of college is quite compelling, and there’s an identifiable audience for it. When writing creative nonfiction, a clearly defined audience is essential.

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Conflict

Does your story need conflict? Maybe, maybe not but conflict is the one aspect of a story that is sure to raise interest, cause a reader to take sides and, in general, portray a true-to-life situation. Much of our lives, from early childhood, have involved some type of conflict, be it sibling rivalry, teen competition, adult competition and rivalry for jobs, mates and other facets of our lives. So, to speak, conflict is a normal part of life.
Conflict boils down to five main areas:
a. Man against self: A person deals with conflict within him/herself when ones decides whether or not do “do the right thing”. Do I keep that beautiful ring lying on the sidewalk or try to find its owner?
b. Man against man: We are well aware of the conflict of man against man—just watch the evening news.
c. Man against society: People have fought to break from social mores since we lived in caves. There have always been do’s and don’ts, often called taboos. Women, for generations, were raised to believe that ‘decent’ women wore dresses. Now, that is no longer true, women wear dresses, slacks, jeans, shorts or whatever is comfortable or fitting for the occasion.
d. Man against nature: Humans have conflicted with nature since time began. The most notable conflict comes from the weather. We have conflict with dust storms, tornadoes, blizzards, floods, hurricanes and all other manner of foul weather that can be damaging or life threatening.
e. Man against God: This is the trickiest one, in that it assumes a belief in, or at least a grudging recognition of, the Almighty. No God, no conflict, no problem, right? No so fast—there are always forces that cannot be explained, whether they’re supernatural, chance or “dumb luck”. These areas of conflict are covered here.

The examples given for each of the five areas are meant only as that, just examples, not all-inclusive descriptions. Think about it. I’m sure you’ll come up with more, even better ones. If you have some that byou think will help other writers, please share them.

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The Delayed Subject with There

by Maeve Maddox
From Daily Writing Tips

In conversation we’d probably find ourselves tongue-tied if we couldn’t begin sentences with the grammatical subject there:
There are only three eggs left in the refrigerator.
There’s a lot of traffic on the freeway this morning.
In each example there begins the sentence, but the true subjects– eggs and a lot of traffic –are delayed until after the verb.

There is nothing grammatically wrong with this construction. Did you notice that I just wrote a sentence beginning with “There is”? Simply placing the true subject first would create Yoda-speak:
Nothing grammatically wrong with this construction is.
Rewriting an expletive sentence (the kind that begins with a subject place-holder like “There”) requires a little more effort than simple reversal. That’s probably why we let so many of them creep into our first drafts.

Compare the following:
There is research that shows that phonics is the most important component of beginning reading.
Research shows that phonics is the most important component of beginning reading.
Not only is the delayed subject pattern wordy, but it can also lead to a lack of subject-verb agreement. Here are some examples from websites offering professional services:
There’s good reasons EmCare is the industry leader
There’s areas of freezing drizzle/mist out there this afternoon.
There’s schooling costs, there’s health costs and they’ll continue to be provided out of the centres for those who are being temporarily resettled…(This was a government minister.)
Informal conversation is one thing, but writing for a professional purpose is something else again. If the “There is” opener is the preferred stylistic choice, then the delayed subject should agree with the verb that precedes it:

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