Monday, March 14, 2011
Things I Wish I'd Known BEFORE I Started The Manuscript: Part 2
Last week, I did a blog talking about the very first copy edits from my publisher. I listed a few of the rules she mentioned along with the corrections. This week, I’m going to finish up with some of the things I learned. So, grab a cup of coffee and read on.
I’ll start with commas: Before I get to her corrections, I want to rant a little and prefix this by telling you I am a self-proclaimed comma freak. It drives me crazy when I’m reading a story, and I find all kinds of comma errors. I can’t tell you how many contest entries and manuscripts I edit from “seasoned” writers with misuse of commas. Before two independent clauses, there must either be a conjunction PLUS a comma or it must be two sentences. We’ve all heard that if you have a short sentence, you can get by without one, but for the most part, put one in.
Here’s the way some people do it.
Jordan stopped by Food Warehouse on her way home from work, she picked up a loaf of ninety-nine cents bread, which suited her budget and her culinary skills.
No, no, no! Here’s the way it should be.
Jordan stopped by Food Warehouse on her way home from work, and she picked up a loaf of ninety-nine cents bread, which suited her budget and her culinary skills.
If you take out the pronoun after and, it makes it a dependent clause, and you don’t need the comma.
Jordan stopped by Food Warehouse on her way home from work and picked up a loaf of ninety-nine cents bread, which suited her budget and her culinary skills.
Again, the rule is – if the verb in the second clause has a noun in front of it, it either needs a comma and a conjunction or it needs to be a new sentence.
I know authors get away with some things in our writing, like:
Jordan stopped by Food Warehouse on her way home from work, wishing she didn’t have to, hoping she’d be quick. (I know - crappy sentence but you get the point!)
But the comma rules still apply.
One of my most common comma (tongue twister) errors is when I use the word then.
Jordan stopped by Food Warehouse on her way home from work then picked up a loaf of ninety-nine cents bread, which suited her budget and her culinary skills.
The rule still applies – no comma here. If I said and then she picked up – I’d need the comma.
I may have mentioned I am a complete idiot when it comes to hyphenated words. Those I do hyphenate shouldn’t be and those I do should. Here is the rule she sent and a list of the words I screwed up on.
Leave adjectival; color compounds unhyphenated before the noun. (Ex. jade and black necklace, reddish brown hair)
light-colored (since the color modifies the adjective instead of the noun??)
Olive-skinned (same reason as above)
Another rule – blond is for men and blonde is for the girls!! Really?? And fiancé for men and fiancée for the ladies.
And it’s backward, forward and toward –no “s” at the end.
Now on to punctuation:
Punctuation appears in the same font –roman or italic-as the main or surrounding text. Exception: Exclamation marks set italic if the word preceding it is Italics. (Smart girls like me never knew that!!)
Italicize direct thought, imagined words, and words that are mouthed but not spoken aloud. Indirect internal thoughts set roman.
She grabbed my hand and mouthed Help me!
Italicize written letters and notes.
Foreign proper names, including recipe title, set roman. (I thought this was just the opposite!)
Now on to numbers:
Spell out whole numbers one to one hundred and any of these numbers followed thousand, hundred thousand, million, ‘etc. Spell out all numbers beginning a sentence Spell out numbers in dialogue unless awkward construction, (EX: years, phone numbers, numbers with decimals, numbers that are part of a proper noun, colloquial expressions in which figures generally appear.
Money: $6.52 and six dollars
Highways – Highway 82
Time: eleven fifteen
Percentage – fifteen percent
Anyway, I hope this hasn’t confused any of you. I found it terribly enlightening and will keep the rules by my computer when I’m writing. And from now on, I will Google every word I think I should hyphenate.
Oh, and one last note – it’s for goodness’ sake with an apostrophe!! Who knew??
So, now that I feel like a total grammar nerd, does anyone else have a good grammar rule we can use. Where’s the former copy editor who commented on last week’s blog? Now would be the perfect time to assure me I don’t need to go back to school like you did last week. And where's the Grammar Divas when you need them?
All I have to say is thank goodness Berkley liked my story!!