Grammar: Things to Remember

Numbers:

  • All numbers between 21 and 99 (except 30, 40, 50, etc) should be hyphenated. Examples: Twenty-three and two hundred and eighty-nine.
  • Numbers should be written in full at the start of a sentence.

One or Two Words:

anyone = any person
Hint: Try replacing the word anyone with any person. If it sounds right, it’s the correct word. If it does not sound right, use any one.

everyday = normal
Hint: Try replacing the word everyday with normal. If it sounds right, it’s the correct word. If it does not sound right, use every day.

everyone = every person
Hint: Try replacing the word everyone with every person. If it sounds right, it’s the correct word. If it does not sound right, use every one.

maybe = perhaps
Hint: Try replacing the word maybe with perhaps. If it sounds right, it’s the correct word. If it does not sound right, use may be.

Okay, I think you get the gist of it. Do the same thing for the following words:

nobody = no person (if it doesn’t sound right use no body)
everybody = every person (if it doesn’t sound right use every body)
sometimes = occasionally (if it doesn’t sound right use some times)

Confusing Words:

Affect = to change (Hint: Try using to transform instead of affect.)
Effect = outcome, consequence or appearance (Hint: Try using either outcome, consequence or appearance instead of effect.)

Allude = refer to indirectly
Elude = to avoid

Already = prior to a specified time
All ready = completely prepared
Hint: The word ready can replace all ready but not already.

Alright = is a nonstandard variant of all right and all use of the word should be avoided.

Bare = exposed
Bear = for every other use except when the meaning is exposed

Breathe (rhymes with seethe) = inhale and expel air from the lungs
Breath (rhymes with death) = the air inhaled or exhaled during breathing

Fewer = not as many, when there is more than one item (i.e. fewer animals)
Less = not as much, when there is one item (i.e. less time)

Lead (rhymes with seed) = to lead, being in charge
Lead (rhymes with bed) = a metallic element
Led (rhymes with bed) = past tense of to lead

Licence = UK/Aus use this word, relates to card/papers
License = US only use this word, relates to allow
Hint: Try using card or papers. If it sounds right use licence. If it doesn’t, use license.

Passed = past tense of to pass
Past = used at all other times
Hint: Try using went past. If it sounds right use passed. If it doesn’t, use past.
But: If the word has is before passed (might be a word or two before), try using gone past instead. If it sounds right use passed. If not, use past.

Moving on to the Next Writing Project

With The Land of Miu series complete, I can now move on to other projects. The next manuscript I want to work on is Domino Effect.

Having released three books for young readers, I now turn to writing for adults. Forget “cutesy” or “fun”. Those terms will not relate to my next book. Think more in line of dark, confronting and thought provoking. Domino Effect is dark fiction. The theme is depression, grief and suicide.

I know these three words well. I’ve lived them. Now I write about them. Some readers will read the book and turn away because they don’t understand. Others will read and weep tears of knowing and I hope my words will touch and help them believe they are not alone. But I’m not really aiming my words at those two groups of people, there’s another group I’ll be speaking to; and I hope my fiction will help them in real life. Regardless, the message for all readers will be clear.

The first draft of the manuscript is already complete. In fact, the first edit is done too. I am working on the second edit at present. There will be more edits to follow. But I expect the book will be published later this year. Watch this space. 😀

The Lion Gods Moves into Stage 3 of the Editing Process

I know it’s been a little quiet here lately. I’ve been busy editing The Lion Gods. Gone are the days when the website and my online presence took up all my time. These days, I write (or edit). I think I’ve got my priorities right … finally.

The second phase went well. I love the end results; which has to be a good sign. Yesterday, I printed the manuscript and will commence a line edit in coming days. Possibly tomorrow.

Today, I get a well-deserved rest day.

Editing: Phase 1 – Listen!

The Lion Gods has entered the first editing stage. Everyone does things different. My recommendation is to do what feels right for you. Normally, I would read through the story first, making notes as to problem areas such as random sub-plots that go nowhere, scenes that make no sense, and other ‘jump out and smack you in the face’ sections of the story and/or character plots.

This time I thought I’d try something different. I thought I’d use the text to speech function on my laptop and allow the computer-generated voice to narrate my manuscript back to me. I set the voice so it wasn’t too slow as that would be mundane and could easily put me to sleep. 😀 Yes, the voice is monotone and emotionless, but that worked well as it helps make problem areas really stand out. Actually, I was surprised by how well it works. I’d be listening to this expressionless voice just speaking the words at an even pace and suddenly weird stuff would be said and I’d think “Ah, what’s that supposed to be” or if the words were right “that sounds awkward”. I’d make a notation in my notebook and, I must say, I have a (big) list.

I’ve listened to the entire manuscript in this way, making notes. And now I’m ready to go into Phase 2 – Fix Up.

Communication Skills

All parties working on a project need to work as a team. They must also respect each other’s point of view. If everyone is working in different directions then the project will not succeed.

Point of View

Everyone has a point of view. Often everyone thinks their point of view is the right one. This is only natural because we all see things/situations differently. However, it doesn’t mean we are always right and it can be that part of or all of the other points of view are also correct.

The key is to be objective. It’s OK to have a different point of view which you are willing to put aside because the majority thinks another way. However, never compromise your ethics.

Compromise

As the editor, you must learn to compromise. And, remember, you are not the author and should not be attempting to change the author’s style.

Remember quality and profit from the last post? Ask yourself will compromising make either of these things suffer.

Key Communication Skills

Active Listening means to respond and question. All parties need to be able to question without fear of reprisal.

Consideration must always be given to the author’s goal. The publisher/editor/copyeditor/proofreader should not become so intent on grammar and correctness that this is forgotten. This means the other parties (publisher and editors) must never become narrow-minded. And, if you are wrong…admit it!

Non-Verbal Language will tell other parties what you think even if you don’t say it. This is true on the phone too. The other person cannot see you, but they can hear the smile on your face or the roll of your eyes, and they respond to these things. They also feel the distance if they can hear you doing other things. They may feel hurried if you speak fast. Where possible, learn to adjust your tone, pace and vocal range to the person you are talking to.

Communicating the Editors Role to the Author

As an editor, the best thing you can do is define your role to the author at your first meeting. This will help develop a good editor/author relationship.

Some things you should do are: explain your role in the company; advise that your suggestions are just that suggestions and the author has the final say; explain the manuscript must comply with the publisher’s in-house style; talk about the importance of readership and what they want and expect; and, briefly explain the publishing process. Be sure to mention that once the manuscript goes to print, no more corrections can be made.

Editing Course: Developing Good Working Relationship

Before I get started on the course notes, I’d like to mention that the last two months has been hectic. I’ve been too busy to post or to do my courses. I’ve taken up the editing course again this week, but will defer the writing course until after the editing course is complete. That way, both courses will get my full attention, which will ultimately be better for me.

Unit 6: The Importance of Understanding

Relationships with anyone are delicate. They need to be worked on. The important factor for success for a partnership between two people, especially in a work relationship, is understanding the ultimate goal. All parties need to know they aim for quality and profit.

Quality: the end product needs to meet standards expected by the author and publisher.

Profit: there is no point publishing something if there’s no profit. Publishers need profit to survive.

The Editor/Author Relationship

Many works are edited three or more times. Yet it is not uncommon for an error to be found even after numerous edits. It’s also not uncommon for someone else to find an error after the work is published.

The editor must work ‘with’ the author and not ‘against’ the author. The number of edits is not a reflection on the author and does not indicate poor quality.

To obtain a more objective viewpoint, the author must be able to take a break after the first draft is finished. When they return to the work they will see things much more clearly.

The editor has a more objective eye because they are not as close to the work, they have not invested hours and hours of time working of the manuscript. And they are not emotionally connected with the work. Because of this, the editor easily spots the faults.

Where the author immerses themselves into the work, the editor must remain detached and objective. This does not mean, however, being cold and unfeeling.

The author and editor must understand what will be accepted and wanted by the audience. Because if disappointed, the audience may never purchase anything by that author again.

The Editor/Proofreader Relationship

The proofreader’s role is to help the editor bring the project to a stage of completion. The key to success here is communication.

Proofreaders need to stay up-to-date with language and style changes, new printing procedures and changes in industry standards.

And editor needs to be able to trust the proofreader in this regard and will expect an acceptable degree of accuracy.

A proofreader must detach themselves from the content and read character by character, line by line. They do not look for plot/story faults and will never be held responsible for not spotting these faults.

The Editor/Publisher Relationship

The level of responsibility will be determined by the publisher. It can be a difficult job as you may end up the ‘middle man’ between the publisher and the author. Remember, you are accountable to the publisher and that’s where your loyalty should be. You’ll need to be aware of deadlines, profit margins, sales etc but you will also need to be conscious of the author’s professional position.

Writing Course: Self-Editing Your Work

You have written a story – short story or novel, it doesn’t matter. Now it is time to self-edit it. It is easy to find flaws in other people’s work, but quite difficult to recognise them in your own.

There are three components of self-editing:

1. line/copy-editing,
2. sentence editing,
3. content editing.

Line/Copy-editing

A point to remember, whilst the spell check in word processors will identify some misspelt words, you should never rely on it when self-editing as they do not pick up words that are correctly spelled but used in the wrong context (such as to, too, two, their, there, would, wood).

However, you should use the ‘find and replace’ function to check the following:

[table style=”1″]

What to Look For What to Do
Words ending with ‘ly’ Adverbs tell rather than show. A lot of the time if you strengthen the verb, you can eliminate the adverb.
and, so, but, however, because Avoid connectives where possible. Try a full stop and make two sentences, or rearrange and shorten the sentence.
that If the sentence reads well without it, delete it.
thing, stuff Don’t be lazy! Be specific.
he, she, him, her, his, hers If you have two or more characters, don’t rely on pronouns as the reader can become confused as to who is doing/saying what.

[/table]

Sentence Editing

Once you’ve completed the basic line/copy-edit to correct spelling and grammar, you will need to examine your sentences and the words used. Ask yourself these questions:

Is the language specific, strong?
Do your words allow visualisation?
Is the main character well developed, convincing?
Will the reader sympathise with the main character?
Is there jargon or cliches that should be removed?
Are you too wordy or concise?
Is the word choice supportive of the setting?
Is the tone consistent?
Are there shifts in tone, tense, style or voice?
Is the dialogue convincing?
Does the dialogue move the story along?
Does the dialogue reveal character, conflict or emotion?

Content Editing

The course tackles this last but I feel this should be the first thing you do as major changes could result which may mean the work you’ve already completed in the line/copy-edit and sentence edit has been wasted.

Some more questions you should ask yourself:

What is your story about?
Can you sum up, in one sentence, what you story is about?
Are you saying what you want to say?
What does the main character want? Is this clear from the start?
Where is the story set? Is it important?
Will the reader relate to the main character?
Does the story have direction?
Is there a catchy beginning?
Is the conflict clear from the beginning?
Do the characters face interesting obstacles and make difficult decisions?
Does every action have cause and effect?
Is the main character well developed and interesting?
What is the character’s ruling passion or fatal flaw?
Does the character struggle, grow, change, make a stand?
Is the right character telling the story?
Does the setting create the right mood, have a strong sense of time and place, further the theme and plot?
Is there continuance, consistency and credibility?
Has the point of view or tense changed?
Are the characters believable?
Is the narrative voice right for the story?

Professional Presentation

Once the story has been written, rewritten and edited until it is the best it can be, it is time to take steps to ‘present’ your work in a professional manner.

I would recommend you using William Shunn’s Proper Manuscript Format Website as a guide, but here’s a quick checklist:

  • Use A4 good quality white paper
  • Use no less than 12 point black font
  • Never use colour ink
  • Use double spacing for manuscript content
  • Use a title page, or more often these days, insert the following onto the first page of the manuscript:
      story title
      author’s name
      approximate word count
      full name, address and contact details
  • Insert into top header, except first page, right aligned, in the following format:
      story title/ author’s surname / page number
  • Left justify content.
  • Make sure there is no extra white space between paragraphs and the first line of each paragraph is indented up to five spaces (3 is a good number).
  • Never bind pages.
  • Always keep a backup copy on disk (or, do what I do, email yourself a copy for safe keeping).
  • Most important, always read the publisher guidelines and do as directed. Always!

 

Editing Course: Be Aware of What You Edit

As an editor it is part of your job to watch out for things like offensive language and discriminatory wording — but only when it is out of context.

Most of the time, the author does not intend harm or it may be a case of misinterpretation, but the editor must be objective and consider the ramifications of inappropriate use and bring it to the author’s attention.

There are many grey areas that make this difficult such as cultural differences, freedom of speech and inconsistent laws, but the key here is keeping it within context. Ultimately, it is the author’s decision if the wording is changed or not.

Professional Integrity

It’s important to maintain objectivity and independent judgement in thinking when working as an editor, copyeditor or proofreader.

This means being able to think for yourself and being able to discuss potential problems with your clients, and remain professional when doing so.

Objectivity means being impartial, intellectually honest and free of conflicts of interest. An editor must be able to put their personal views aside and approach their work on an individual basis. It may mean that you do NOT take on a particular job because you feel so strongly about the topic. Whatever the case, you must always stand back, keep a clear head, do not pass judgement on what you are reading and stay professional.

Confidentiality means that you must never disclose information about the editing project to a third person. Never discuss manuscripts, never share company details, never gossip about your clients. If you do, your client can take legal action against you.

Cultural Awareness means understanding that groups of people have patterns of behaviour and beliefs that may impact on the way they do, say and write things. Words and meanings can be totally different with the groups. What does not offend one group, may highly offend another group. The editor should arrange a client pre-brief (in person or by phone) before editing material to discuss what the author’s intentions are as this will often be beneficial to the editor.

Some Terms You Should Know

Defamation is ‘the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government, or nation a negative image’. Source Wikipedia.

Slander is the spoken form of ‘defamation’.

Libel is the written form of ‘defamation’.

Discrimination is the unfavourable or unfair treatment of a person based on their sex, age, religion, physical appearance, sexual orientation or race.

Blasphemy is ‘irreverence toward holy personages, religious artifacts, customs, and beliefs’. Source: Wikipedia.