Hints and tips on writing by John Silkstone  (Silky) 

 

Stage two.  An editor is not going to read your full story, they might read about half of the first page, but that half has got to grab them.  If it does, they will pass it on to a reader.  That is someone who reads the story and makes a decision on if it is saleable. They will also look out for grammar and spelling mistakes, therefore it’s very important that you MS is correct.  Get another writer to read it before sending it off.
 
Another thing to do is read you work out loud, if you stumble over a word or words then something is wrong.
 
Watch out for the following mistakes that new writers tend to make.
 
Speech marks.  In the UK it is common to use double quotations “ as speech marks and singles ‘ when giving titles of: books, songs or plays etc i.e.  Shakespear’s play ‘The Tempest’.
 
At the end of speech marks make sure you place your comma or full stop in the right place always inside the speech marks.
 
“Yes,” she said. You will note that there is a comma before the end speech mark, this is because you are using something else after the speech as ended i.e. she said, she replied, etc. Also note that the letter is lower case.  However, if you use something like, She gave him an icy stare.  Then it’s a full stop and a capital letter.  If you are not sure, look in one of your books.
 
Do not rely on the computer spell checker and make sure you are on UK English and not USA English.  Spell checker will not high light words like to, too or two, - were, where or wear, etc. because these words are correct, but not used in the right context. 
 
It’s not just a matter of spelling, it’s also about the author using good strong words and decluttering the story i.e.
 
Whenever possible, avoid words like just or was. It’s amazing the number of time writers will use the word was when it should be were or we’re.  It's bad English, don’t use it.
 
It’s amazing what dribble we put into our stories, so they need to be edited and tightened up.  We often use TAUTOLOGY.  That is saying the same thing twice.
Dry desert.                  Do we know of a wet one?
10 pm at night.            P.M. tells us its night time.    
£100 pounds.              £ tells us its pounds.
Morning sunrise.         We never see an evening sunrise do we?
           
 
It’s okay to write this into the first draft.  We need to get the words on paper so it doesn’t matter what words we use. Remember, the first draft is written by your heart. The second draft is written by your brain.
 
There are other things that we can use that are called MENONYMY.  Metonymy literally means a change of name. In metonymy an object is denoted by the name of something which is generally associated with it.  We say the Crown to represent Royalty or Westminster, for parliament.
 
A good book to get is Teach Yourself Correct English by B.A. Phythian            ISBN 9780340772256.
 

 

HINTs and TIPs on WRITING
 
Welcome to this page where I hope the hints and tips I gave you will help to improve your work.
I’m starting with the basics so that anyone who doesn’t know how to submit a manuscript (MS) will get some idea on what an editor is looking for and what he/she doesn’t want.
 
The following is a short history of my writing and editing abilities.
 
I have always been a writer and in 2000 I decided to enrol on a creative writing course. I have run two writing groups in the past and belong to one called Riverside Writers’, here in Gainsborough.
In 2004 I became editor of a short story and poetry magazine titled ‘Longford Writers’.’ I remained editor until 2009, when I’m sorry to say the magazine cased to be published due to lack of funds. I have had five short stories, 73 poems and one book published.
In September of this year (2011) I passed the foundation course in creative writing at Hull University .
 
In the past you may have sent off a MS or poem to a competition and you either received a rejection slip or nothing at all. If you receive a rejection slip, the odds are it didn’t tell what was wrong with your submission, so you are left in limbo, not knowing if anything was wrong with your work. I have seen good stories rejected because they did not conform to the editorial rules. I hope these few tips will get you past the rejection stage.
 
First and foremost, never fully justify the page of text. If an editor sees this, he will not read your MS. The reason being, when your work is transferred to their printing press, it will not format to their printing specifications.
 
Never indent the first line of a chapter, even if it contains speech marks, i.e.
“Hello there, how are you?”    This is correct
“Hello there, how are you?”  Is incorrect.
 
Never use the tab key to indent. At the top of the page in word, is a ruler. Once you have written the first few words. High light them by right clicking your mouse and running it over the words. At the start of the ruler is an object that looks like an hour glass. Take your curser to the top piece of the hourglass and right click your mouse. Then holding it down, move it right to the 3/4 mark and let go. The bottom piece will remain at the front of the ruler.
When you get to the end of a paragraph or speech marks, press the enter key as normal and the curser will move to the correct indent space for the next line.
 
Only use Times New Roman or Arial at size 12. Never use fancy fonts
 
These are the top four common faults with new writers. Give your MS or poem the best chance by doing thing right.
 
More to follow next month
 
Silky

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