Capitalizing Deity Pronouns

One more post on editing books for the Christian market, and this one’s a touchy subject. The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style calls for lowercase deity pronouns (that is, he and his when referring to God). This deeply offends some people, who see it as a sign of disrespect, despite the fact that for 1800 …

Take Extra Care with Scripture Citations

Quoting Shakespeare is one thing. It’s easy enough to open a copy of Hamlet to get a citation right. Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.—William Shakespeare. The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark. The Harvard Classics 1909–14. Act V, Scene I. Via http://www.bartleby.com/46/2/51.html. But when …

Q&A: Quotations versus Dialogue

Q: I have literally hundreds of quotes in my autobiography, and after reading your post about them, I’m really confused. Most of what I’m writing about is not quoting a known source like Mark Twain. Rather, it’s in the form of he said, “blah, blah, blah” when I’m relating a story or incident. I don’t …

Verify the Sources of Your Quotations

One of the most common problems I see in new writers’ nonfiction manuscripts is quotations that are either inaccurate, insufficiently sourced, or both. ☐You have in your notes, if not in the text, citations and links for your sources. Sites like BrainyQuote, Great-Quotes.com, and even Goodreads, which should know better, propagate quotations without verifying the …

Avoid Ambiguity in Your Nonfiction

Today’s post applies mainly to academic, prescriptive, or expository writing. Narrative nonfiction, especially memoir, can leave room for ambiguity. But if your book is meant to instruct, it needs to be clear. The main cause of incomprehensible prose is the difficulty of imagining what it’s like for someone else not to know something that you …

Ensure Your True-Life Anecdotes Are Really True

We finished the Voice section of the Elements of Nonfiction Editing Checklist, and now we move on to Information. You might think the information would come first—and it does, when you’re writing. This part of the editing process is an opportunity to double-check your facts. Writers and motivational speakers often use true-life anecdotes to illustrate …

Write With Clarity

When writing for a general audience, we want to ensure that the language we use is clear—the opposite of the kind of bafflegab we looked at earlier. ☐ Language is clear and vocabulary is appropriate to the audience. The key to keeping your language clear is ensuring that everything can be understood in context. This …

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