Before You Submit: Who or That

Do you have a draft of your novel or short story and are thinking of submitting to an agent, publisher or writing contest? My series called Before You Submit might help. This series contains hints and tips I’ve received from professionals in the publishing industry. Each week I’ll share a new tip.

This week I’ll write about the use of who.

I’m loving going through my old notes from an editor. I mean, if can’t laugh at myself and the silly mistakes I made in the early days of writing, what’s the point. Writing should be fun, at least some of the time, maybe even most of the time. Even the hard work of editing can be fun.

Now, to the topic of Who or That, and what I needed to know. Here’s the sentence I wrote:

“I’ll need a list of everyone that had the combination to the safe.”

Yikes. Did you catch the error? The sentence should read:

“I’ll need a list of everyone who had the combination to the safe.”

Funny enough, who is used when referring to people. Every little correction makes the novel a better read. Thank you to the editor who pointed this out to me.

I hope this helps improve your writing.

See Before You Submit:Likeable Characters for the first blog in this series and an introduction the benefits of submitting even if you get a rejection letter.

Thanks for reading…

Before You Submit: The Use of ‘That’

Do you have a draft of your novel or short story and are thinking of submitting to an agent, publisher or writing contest? My series called Before You Submit might help. This series contains hints and tips I’ve received from professionals in the publishing industry. Each week I’ll share a new tip.

This week I’ll write about the use of that.

My editor thought ‘that’ should only be used if it was needed to keep the meaning of the sentence clear. Here’s an example of where it’s not needed.

Kendra smelled the odour of sweat coming from the ski boots that were resting askew on the floor.

The easy fix my editor recommended was to remove ‘that were’ from the sentence. The new sentence becomes:

Kendra smelled the odour of sweat coming from the ski boots resting askew on the floor.

I think the editor was reminding me to cut back on words. There are many places on the internet to get find the detailed rules, but I thought a quick example would give you something to check for in your writing.

I hope this helps improve your writing.

See Before You Submit:Likeable Characters for the first blog in this series and an introduction the benefits of submitting even if you get a rejection letter.

 

 

Thanks for reading . . .

 

Before You Submit: Dialogue, Narrative and Repetition

Do you have a draft of your novel or short story and are thinking of submitting to an agent, publisher or writing contest? My series called Before You Submit might help. This series contains hints and tips I’ve received from professionals in the publishing industry. Each week I’ll share a new tip.

This week I’ll write about Dialogue, Narrative and Repetition.

Combining dialogue and narrative is where style, or dare I say art, comes into your writing. 

We all know you don’t want to bore the reader with repetition, but sometimes it’s easy to do without even noticing. I tend to repeat something in narrative that I’ve already said in dialogue.

Here’s what the editor didn’t like in one of my manuscripts:

“You have a choice to make,” Sarah said. “You can walk away right now, or  I’ll call the cops and see what they have to say about the drugs.” Sarah stood her ground.

The editor recommended removing ‘Sarah stood her ground.’ Her thought was that it was obvious Sarah was standing her ground. The dialogue indicated this, and there was no need to hit the reader over the head with it.

Her overall point, if you repeat things, make sure you have a reason to. You might repeat for style or for emphasis, but don’t repeat for filler.

To figure out if you have a similar problem, you can analyze your writing, checking for areas of repetition, or you can ask someone else to read your work and check for you. A reader other than myself can often see things I can’t, so I like asking for help on this one.

I hope this helps improve your writing.

See Before You Submit:Likeable Characters for the first blog in this series and an introduction the benefits of submitting even if you get a rejection letter.

Thanks for reading . . .

 

 

Before You Submit: Run-on Sentences

Do you have a draft of your novel or short story and are thinking of submitting to an agent, publisher or writing contest? My series called Before You Submit might help. This series contains hints and tips I’ve received from professionals in the publishing industry. Each week I’ll share a new tip.

This week I’ll write about Run-on Sentences.

Was I embarrassed when an editor corrected a line a narrative by commenting that it was a run-on sentence, and I didn’t know what a run-on sentence was? You bet. I had to look it up.

Basically a run-on sentence occurs when two or more independent clauses are connected without the correct punctuation or coordinating conjunction.

Here is an example of what not to do.

After the avalanche, Darren changed, he’s been getting into fights at the bar.

As you can see, I liked commas at the time. 🙂

The corrected version is:

After the avalanche, Darren changed. He’s been getting into fights at the bar.

The second comma changed to a period. The second sentence starts with a capital letter.

Everyone has to start somewhere, and I was lucky to have an editor who took the time to correct my writing during my early days of crafting a novel.

I hope this helps improve your writing.

See Before You Submit:Likeable Characters for the first blog in this series and an introduction the benefits of submitting even if you get a rejection letter.

Thanks for reading . . .

Lesson Seventeen from a Manuscript Red Line: Who are we talking to?

Before You Submit: Do you have a draft of your novel or short story and are thinking of submitting to an agent, publisher or writing contest? My series called Before You Submit might help. This series contains hints and tips I’ve received from professionals in the publishing industry. Each week I’ll share a new tip. This week, I’m reblogging a post from Jennifer Eaton. She’s talking about how to start a scene and let the reader know who has the point of view. Her explanation is so clear, I thought I’d share it with you. Thanks Jennifer 🙂

Jennifer M Eaton

      

For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?  You can also click “Rant Worthy Topics” in my right navigation bar.  Choose “Gold Mine Manuscript” to see all the lessons to date.

We’ve been on Point of View for a little while now.  No need to break a trend.  This particular publisher harped on it a lot, so here I am passing their wisdom on to you.  The next POV comment they made was to make sure it is immediately obvious when you start a chapter whose POV you are in.

I was a little surprised by this.  One of the things that I admired in the Gold Mine Manuscript, was the beautiful imagery.  The author is so much better at building the “view” of the scene for a reader than I am.  The problem…

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Before You Submit: As If Versus Like

Do you have a draft of your novel or short story and are thinking of submitting to an agent, publisher or writing contest? My series called Before You Submit might help. This series contains hints and tips I’ve received from professionals in the publishing industry. Each week I’ll share a new tip.

This week I’ll write about As if versus like.

Learn the difference between ‘as if’ and ‘like’. That was the clear message from an editor. 2008 was the year, and wow, did I have a lot to learn.  How embarrassing that my very first draft was full of errors when it came to using ‘like’.

I’ll give you an example:

On his way out the door, Darren turned back to me. He looked like he might say something …

Really, what it should have been was:

On his way out the door, Darren turned back to me. He looked as if he might say something 

I found a clear definition of ‘Like versus as if’ on Clifford Garstang’s blog, Tips for Writers. You can also check out GrammarErrors.

I hope this helps improve your writing.

See Before You Submit:Likeable Characters for the first blog in this series and an introduction the benefits of submitting even if you get a rejection letter.

Thanks for reading . . .

Before You Submit: He – She – They

Do you have a draft of your novel or short story and are thinking of submitting to an agent, publisher or writing contest? My series called Before You Submit might help. This series contains hints and tips I’ve received from professionals in the publishing industry. Each week I’ll share a new tip.

This week I’m going to highlight advice I received last week when I posted my blog. One reader kindly pointed out my mistake, and to me it re-enforces how important it is to have someone else edit my work before submitting the words. Of course, I don’t have an editor for the blog, so I’m on my own.

The rule I broke: Plural and singular must match in a sentence.

The sentence containing my error was:

As usual, this advice is coming from an editor who knows what they are talking about.

If it’s not clear whether the editor is female or male, the corrected sentence is:

As usual, this advice is coming from an editor who knows what he/she is talking about.

I know the editor was a female. so I could also have written:

As usual, this advice is coming from an editor who knows what she is talking about.

I mixed the singular ‘an editor’ with the plural ‘they’. Even at this stage I’m making errors when I know better.

I hope this helps improve your writing.

See Before You Submit:Likeable Characters for the first blog in this series and an introduction the benefits of submitting even if you get a rejection letter.

 

Thanks for reading . . .