Basic Writing and Editing Tips

Basic Writing and Editing Tips

Photo courtesy & OCAL

Photo courtesy & OCAL

By Andrea Merrell

As writers, we must invest our time, effort, and money to learn all we can to make our work as excellent as possible. As you prepare for Boot Camp, here are a few tips to help you polish your manuscript and get it ready for submission.

 Learn the lingo of the writing and publishing industry. This will be very important when you converse with other writers and meet with agents and editors.
 Know your subject. Do your research and be sure to document your sources.
 Know how to:
 Hook your readers.
 Set the scene.
 Show—don’t tell.
 Use POV (point of view) correctly.
 Create memorable characters.
 Construct proper dialogue.
 Build your plot.
 Creatively use backstory.
 Write tight.

Whether you’re a new writer or seasoned author, catching pesky typos and using correct grammar and punctuation may make the difference between acceptance and rejection. Even with a great story, the little things can spoil our manuscripts. Take the following quiz and see how many little foxes you can catch. The answers will be available at Boot Camp.

1. The acceptable size and font for manuscripts is: 10 pt. Times New Roman, 12 pt. Times New Roman, and 12 pt. Verdana

2. A manuscript should be:
Single-spaced Double-spaced Triple-spaced

3. Serial Comma Usage: True or False? All publications call for a serial comma if leaving it out could cause confusion.

4. One or two spaces at the end of a sentence?

5. Which word is correct in each sentence?
Whose/Who’s turn is it to wash the dishes?
My dad/Dad is a football fanatic.
I asked mom/Mom if I could buy a new dress.
Is this your/you’re wallet?
If your/you’re late to the meeting, you will miss the keynote speaker.
Stacy and Rick were going to their/they’re cousin’s birthday party.
Its/It’s supposed to rain the night of the big game.
Grace said, “To/Two/Too bad you can’t make it to the workshop this week.”

6. Hyphenated words are tricky. Some words are hyphenated depending on the usage.
Which word/phrase is correct?
(Example: Maxine’s manuscript was high quality. That was a high-quality manuscript.)
Stephanie asked an open ended/open-ended question.
Do you like suspense-filled/suspense filled novels?
Research is time consuming/time-consuming.
Audrey’s daughter is very self sufficient/self-sufficient
Ben has a two-year-old girl/two year old girl/two-year-old-girl.

7. Confusing words: (Fill in the blank.)
I am not letting you out of my _________ (sight, cite, site).
My favorite _________ is chocolate cake (desert or dessert).
You must _________ your classes at the writers’ conference (chose or choose).
Mary was _________ her hands while she waited for the verdict (ringing or wringing).

** For more writing and editing tips, check out Andrea’s book, Murder of a Manuscript available from Amazon.

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