Tag Archives: editing

“Secret Writing Rules” and Why to Ignore Them…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

by Anne R. Allen

Somerset Maugham famously said, “There are three rules for writing. Unfortunately, nobody knows what they are.”

But pretty much everybody you meet in the publishing business will give you a list of them. (One is “never start a sentence with ‘there are’” —so watch yourself, Mr. Maugham.)

Some of the rules show up in any standard writing book or class, but others only seem to get circulated in critique groups, conference workshops, and forums.

They’re a secret to everybody else.

But you’ll run into them sooner or later. In a forum or workshop, somebody will tell you with schoolmarmish assurance that you MUST follow these secret writing rules to be a successful novelist.

Nobody knows exactly where these rules come from, or why so many great books have become classics without following a single one.

Don’t get me wrong: many “secret writing rules” involve useful tips…

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5 Tips For Successful Proofreading

K.M. Allan

For someone who is a writer, I’ve done very little of it lately. This is because I’ve been spending the last few months editing and proofreading the four books that make up my YA supernatural series. As a result, I’ve become pretty apt at revising drafts, or at least I’ve learned enough about proofreading to share some valuable tips.

Make A List

Before you start proofreading, you should have a list of what you want to tackle; such as…

  • Spelling
  • Grammar
  • Punctuation
  • Physical Character Descriptions (eye color, hair color, tall, short, etc.)
  • Settings/Locations
  • Dialogue

Make a basic list of common proofing goals (like those above), as well as a list of things to check that are specific to your book. No one knows better than you which words or phrases you repeat, or that Timmy fell down the well in chapter three so he can’t be at school in chapter…

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EDITING 101: A series of 64 FREE Editing Tips – INDEX – For your future reference…

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EDITING 101: 64 – Story Organization…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Story Organization

We talked briefly about this in Article #21, “Plotting.”  But now I’d like to go into a little more detail about it.

Whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, you’re simply going to have to keep track of some details, especially if your book deals with the passage of time. And that’s just about every book ever written—whether it’s only one day throughout the whole book or a number of years, or even decades or centuries. You must keep track of what is going on when. In addition to tracking time, you can also plot out your story arc (to be the theme of a future article), false clues (red herrings), foreshadowing, and other details.

As I said in Article #21, some authors use white boards or bulletin boards, notebooks or pads of paper, sticky notes, index cards, or…walls. And then there are those who avail themselves…

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EDITING 101: 63 – Are you overwhelming your social media followers?

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Are you overwhelming your social media followers?

Yes, yes—all authors are told to market. You need sales! You need reviews! You need readers! You need beta readers! You need to catch the eye of an agent or publisher! So off you scurry and spend as much time as possible reposting your blog articles or inserting links to them everywhere you can.

Unfortunately, there is something known as “too much of a good thing.” Even your most loyal followers may unsubscribe if they get tired of seeing the same posts everywhere. This is called “social media fatigue,” and you definitely want to avoid it! Think of any popular commercial that seems to play endlessly on several channels for months at a time. You may be able to quote it word for word, but how likely is it that you’ll actually purchase the item?

Linking all your accounts may be easy for…

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The Only Comma Rules You’ll Ever Need!

Just Can't Help Writing

The five basic comma rulesCommas are among my favorite tools for building meaning. Used intelligently, commas are wonderful signposts that tell readers which part of a sentence they’ve stumbled into—and then help them make their way out again. I like commas so much I’ve written multiple posts about them.

If comma rules confuse you, take heart! If improving reader comprehension is your goal, there are really only a few “rules” to remember:

Use commas:

Rule 1: After introductory elements.

This is the one most people seem to know about. But I argue that commas are really only necessary when the introductory element gets long enough that readers may miss the lane change back into the main part of the sentence.

So:

After a moment he left the room. (No comma needed unless you want to emphasize a pause.)

But:

After he spent  an extended vacation in a remote village in the Alps, where did…

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EDITING 101: 62 – Using the Wrong Song Lyrics…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Using the Wrong Song Lyrics

If you’re going to go against standard editorial advice (given in Editing 101 post #8) and use song lyrics in your book, for heaven’s sake, be sure you have the CORRECT lyrics!

Well, duh, Editor Lady. That’s what all those Internet lyric sites are for, silly.

Umm, no.

Do not trust lyric sites on the Internet to have the true, accurate lyrics. Most of them are not any more accurate than the mondegreen you may have heard.

What the heck is that??

A mondegreen is a mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase—as a result of near-homophony (go back and visit post 16 for an explanation of homophones)—in a way that gives it a new meaning. What you heard may not be correct.

An example would be a line in ZZ Top’s song, “Sharp-Dressed Man,” which apparently some people have heard as “Everybody’s crazy…

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