Sunday, 12 May 2013

Before I Get My Hands On It...

10 Quick Grammar Tips:) 

If you are going to submit anything to be edited by me, or anyone else, or simply wish to improve your writing, here are a few tips for you!!!  (Note: if you apply these quick grammar tips to your story before sending your book in to an editor, you will save the editor much time, which is especially important, if they charge by the hour! Plus, you will receive your book faster, and the editing will be done more quickly!)

1. There are 3 main ways to write dialogue, tagged with the phrase, "so-and-so said", "so-and-so yelled", etc.

"I can't believe that just happened!" Claire exclaimed.
"What are you talking about?" Jenny demanded.
"I don't know," Claire admitted.

There's the exclamation mark, the question mark, and then...a comma? Yes, that's right, a comma. How often, in published books, do you see this?

"I don't know." Claire said. 

That's because if you're going to tag the quoted phrase with a "so-and-so said", then you don't need to put a period at the end of your quote. Instead, put a comma... "I don't know," Claire said.

2. It's hard to remember the difference between "its" and "it's". :) But try and remind yourself of the reason that "it's" is a contraction. It's because "it's" is two words. "It is". So if you can't figure out what to use, just try out "it is" in your sentence. For example, "It's alive!" or "Its alive?" Is it also grammatically correct to say, "It is alive"? If so, you should use "it's" (a contraction). Use "its" when using a more possessive form, such as, "The dog bit its tail." The tail belongs to the dog. You wouldn't say, "The dog bit it is tail." 

3. You can use the same methods with "Who's" and "Whose". Just try saying the sentence using "Who is", and see if it fits. If not, use "Whose". If so, use "Who's".

4. You use an "apostrophe, s" if something belongs to someone. 

Example: Rachel's guitar

However you would not say, "Rachel's two guitar's", because you're not talking about anything that belongs to the guitars. You would simply say, "Rachel's two guitars". (And for the record, you would also not say "guitar's", you would say "guitar's"...)

5. Don't forget to make and indent your paragraphs!

6. To capitalize or not to capitalize...
If the word (example: "sonny") can be replaced with a proper name (example: "John"), then capitalize the word ("sonny").

"What are you doing there, sonny?"
Try it!

"What are you doing there, John?" works, so capitalize "sonny".

"Look at my dad!"
Try it!

"Look at my John!"
That does NOT work. In that case, then, do not capitalize "dad".

7. This something I learned recently... don't change tenses in the middle of a sentence!

8. Something ELSE I just learned... Comma and, a semicolon, and two complete sentences can all serve the same purpose. Sound confusing? Here's a handy example.

I don't like ice cream; I don't like cookies.
I don't like ice cream, and I don't like cookies.
I don't like ice cream. I don't like cookies.

All of the above should be correct. "I don't like ice cream" and "I don't like cookies" are complete sentences, so they can be separated by a semicolon, a comma and, or, they can be made into two sentences. However, you CANNOT have ONLY an "and". You must have a "comma/and"!

9. "There's" means "there is". "Is" can only refer to one object. "There's Tony!"
"There's potatoes" is not correct. One should say, "There are potatoes" because potatoes are plural. I don't actually see this mistake in books very often, but it's very common in every day speech! I'm trying to use correct grammar when I talk, but I still make many mistakes!

10. Okay, I need to think of another one...
If you change the subject or the person talking , you need to make a new paragraph. Example...

     "Where are we?" I wondered.
     "I don't know," Anna replied.


     I don't like potatoes, whether they be mashed, boiled, fried, or turned into French fries. My friends think I'm insane, but I enjoy my potato-free life.
     I also do not like calculators...

There you go - ten handy grammar tips! :) If you have any questions, please ask!
(By the way, I love French fries and potatoes. I also am very thankful for my calculator). 

-- Klara C.