Posted in 2. Editing

Grammar Nazis!! A Confession

horse-grammar-meme
 

I have a confession to make:

I will not share/repost anything that has bad grammar. It could be the best sentiment, the cutest picture, or something I feel strongly about, but if it has misspellings, errant capital letters, or poor grammar and syntax, it’s not going on my wall.

My wall is relatively silent on those days.

Some people need a brush-up on their grammar!

For example, Dollar General stores all over have these horrifically bad signs posted out in front of every one: 

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NO NO NO NO NO NO NO

I did post this on my wall. It nearly makes me NOT want to shop there. 

Heroes

And WHY is the word ‘our’ in quotation marks???? You are being selective about who gets to be included in your community?? Does Dollar General now have bouncers at the doors, or membership cards to get in??

This sign is all kinds of terrible.

Send me some signs that make you cringe.

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Here’s a good grammar resource:

Top 10 Grammar Myths by Grammar Girl

I enjoyed this article and feel it needs mentioning as it is still relevant 5 years later.

Note, the dictionary just added irregardless as a synonym to regardless, which is WRONG, but now accepted.

 

Please use correct grammar. Impress me.

I dare you.

 


In other Grammar news, my own first drafts are littered with commas. They are EVERYWHERE! When I edit, I have to cut out so many commas, were they really falling to the floor around me, it would look like a haircut.

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But better to have commas, than to not!

Commas, semicolons, colons, and dashes are a pain sometimes. There are often multiple ways they can be used and still be correct.

Here is a guide for those: https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/semi-colons-colons-and-dashes/

Lastly, if you see poor grammar, the natural thing to assume is that is comes from a non-native speaker of the language or a bot. The grammar nazi in me wants to think negatively – that their poor grammar is a result of a scammer or an untrustworthy person. However, remaining open and swallowing that judgement has led to helping others learn and develop better language and writing habits.

The true confession here is in being a grammar snob and learning to be a grammar teacher. I have my grammar faults, too.

Posted in 2. Editing

Editing: How many drafts do I do?

How many drafts is acceptable when editing a novel?

It's Only A Rough Draft

There appears to be some debate in the editing circles about when the ‘eternal editing cycle’ ends. We certainly want to present our best possible work to the public, so we have to edit ourselves. We cannot present work with too many typos and mistakes – unless it’s artistically designed that way.

We can DIY our novels and make it the best we ourselves know how to make it, then ship it out. This route leads to heartache if we go public too soon. People are cruel with their reviews and will stop reading if you don’t have a quality story, then they will tell you about it.

We have to have others look at it. There seem to be a couple ways to do this. Traditional publishing requires you use an editor and certainly, self-publishers can hire one. This is costly. Traditional publishers will pay the editor for you, but that is on the promise that you sell a lot of copies for them. You have to get an agent and query and get a deal first, which can take years. Self-publishers may hire one, knowing that you get what you pay for. Some are very expensive.

Beta readers or critique partners seem to be the way to go. They will look at your content and offer up grammatical and content editing notes. Each person will find different errors. This is useful in polishing your novel to its final draft. You can put their notes side by side and see what errors they all caught and where their opinions differ.

When do you stop polishing your novel and call it done?

Some writers are never satisfied with their scenes. They look at the conflicting advice and they choose which person might be more right and they try it. They rewrite many times, calling each rewrite a draft.

Tip Number one: Don’t compromise your original vision.

You will make more work for yourself if you like someone else’s idea better but it changes too much of your book. If you really don’t like your book that much, do a complete rewrite and write it like it’s your final draft. Put everything in it. Don’t say “I’ll go back and fix that in draft 2” or “That’s what a second draft is for”, just write one draft.

Tip Number two: Rewrite the offending paragraph below it, with notes near you, then cut the original version out.

Don’t nuke your paragraph, rewrite it and mess up your story even more. Keep it where you can refer to it, then when you have created the replacement, delete it. You can also save older versions or older paragraph pieces in a document to refer back to later. If you are using Google Docs, there is an option to restore to a previous draft.

Tip Number three: Use an outline

If you didn’t outline your story to begin with (planners), then go and write one now that it’s finished (pantsers) and note the awesome tidbits you forgot you wrote that might be loopholes or might solve a problem you have later. For instance, I once wrote that a character had a brother. I forgot that morsel. I could use that later to solve a problem (or create one) and it wouldn’t seem like I threw in a deus ex machina.

Tip Number four: Know when to call it done.

At some point, you simply are going over tiny details that don’t even matter. Whether you are querying for traditional publishing or self-publishing, you have to allow your manuscript to be as good as it is going to be. You are human and you have limits. You will second-guess yourself and that’s when you have to stop.

Option number one is: Wait until a real editor comes along and tells you what to do with it.

Option number two: If you’ve sought outside eyes and they’ve left you good comments and you’ve made your changes, then it’s time to end the endless editing cycle of splitting hairs. Get that book baby out into the world!

Posted in 2. Editing

Two Views on Editing

  • Grammar IS important, so we can understand it, but in the first draft write what your heart has inside and go back and edit it later.
  • The heart of a writer beats with Story. The mark of a good Storyteller is being able to embellish it and polish it to an entrancing tale.
  • We’ve been editing ourselves since we first needed to impress another human. 🙂

I’m always growing and learning, but not only that, I change my mood between readings of my work and that alone can make me notice some errors!

It is true that when we write, we are too close to the work and need to step away from it. I cannot truly edit the same day. Sure, spelling, punctuation, typos are easy, but I have to take time away and look at it much later.

Sometimes I have even revisited a piece a year later, after I had nearly forgotten it, and things jumped out at me that were unclear in my writing, but clear in my head when I wrote it.

If you cannot wait, have others read it, others who are honest and not afraid to tell it like it is. Your part is to accept their words, not fight them.

Lastly, I have had some really awesome sparks of inspiration and been able to jot them down! Even when I build my outlines, I am editing. I write it all out, adding, and then going back to fix the beginning so it all makes sense.

Editing.

It’s what makes or breaks a writer.

Some of you may disagree. My good friend Lane does. He has been arguing his viewpoint  for a week that people who edit or focus on the elements on editing must obviously view writing as a system and never will see the beauty inside.

Sure, sometimes people get tripped up in pet peeves and refuse to read on, but the tolerant ones can find the good in the misspelled and grammatically incorrect passages.

My co-author also feels similarly, but as I pointed out, that actually makes us teaming up a fortuitous pairing. I smooth his rough edges with a bit of editing and he gets his thoughts out freely. My meticulous and metaphorical writing style gets balanced with the action and villainy of imaginative characters.

What do you think?

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Posted in 2. Editing

Simplest Editing Technique EVER!

Read Your Stories Aloud

This is particularly helpful for dialogue as J.L. Stratton points out in his blog post. Not only does he give us the ultimate facepalm with his simple revelation that reading dialogue aloud the way it’s meant to be heard is great editing strategy, but he also reminds us that there are ways to indicate the speaker INSIDE the quotes so you don’t have to use he said/she said all the time. Genius!

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.