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Writing Tip: Author Advice


Lugh

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Tip Tuesdays is being lead off with a short article written by one of the hardest working editors on the site, Sharon. In the future, on Tuesdays, you can look forward to writing, editing, site, or other tips that we think you may find useful. If you have something you would like to share, drop a PM and let me know.

 

Good for you! But take it from a veteran editor and reader, it takes more than the desire to put pen to paper. Or keys to screen. Trust me…it took me two days to write this article. And it’s not very long.

If I could give just one piece of advice to a new author, it would be to brush up on the basic rules of grammar. We’re not talking about anything fancy here, just good old spelling and dialog punctuation. If these are not your strong suit, find a good book or website to use for reference. There are plenty of them out there that present information in a fun and entertaining way. Find one, or like me, ten that works for you. Also, check the options on whatever word-processing program you use and set the spellchecker, grammar, and style functions to the highest level. Don’t take the suggested corrections at face value, though. Most spellcheckers won’t catch everything. But at least things that may need a second look are highlighted. Spend the time to understand what these tools are telling you. Correcting mistakes in spelling, grammar, and style will make your writing more enjoyable to read.

As a reader, these basic errors act as speed bumps for the eyes. They break a story’s ebb and flow. You may think your plot is wonderfully entertaining, your characters extremely well developed. And they very well may be. You could have the next Pulitzer winner for fiction all ready to flow off your fingertips. But if a reader has to stumble over the incorrect use of ‘there’, ‘their’, and ‘they’re’ too many times, you’ll lose them in the first chapter.

So you want to be an author? Then do it. Write. Write with passion, heart, and flair. But learn your craft first and give your future readers your best effort.

Copyright © 2011 sat8997; All Rights Reserved.

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Some excellent advice! You've helped me break some unpleasant grammar habits over the years. One thing I've found that really helps is to re-read your chapters at least twice before publishing them. It's amazing how much you can find, especially in terms of style, with a simple re-read.

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So true. Also, sometimes waiting for a few days or more before re-reading the chapters helps to look at the text with fresher eyes. For me it would be ideal to wait for weeks before second and third check ups.

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Most spellcheckers won’t catch everything.

 

Sadly true; spellcheckers aren't complete. They don't contain all the words you will use, just the most common ones. To make matters worse, they don't hesitate to give you a lot of useless suggestions. A writer needs to use other sources to assure a correct selection.

 

Remember that a spellchecker only checks the spelling of the word you typed. If you typed a homophone, it will never catch that you used the wrong word altogether. Instead of a mispelling, you may have the correct spelling for the wrong word.

 

Learn from your editor or proof reader. Study the suggestions they provide, use the correct word and try to remember what you have learned.

 

Thanks Sharon.

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The same thing goes for the grammar checker. I've had some really bizarre suggestions thrown up. Everything needs to be double checked, before you take the advice.

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