Yes, spelling counts in novels also

You may write the most brilliant story with the most sympathetic characters, but if your manuscript is full of spelling errors and typos, you will struggle to find readers. ☐ Spelling is correct. English spelling is notoriously difficult. It is rarely phonetic, as Spanish is, and is not consistent, as French is. Honestly, the only …

Beware the nonrules

Last time I noted that there are lots of misconceptions about what constitutes “grammar.” There are also lots of misconceptions about what constitutes “rules” of writing. Adverbs modify verbs is a rule. Don’t use adverbs is a nonrule. You may use adverbs, as long as you do so judiciously.

Get your grammar in line

Most writers are, by nature, very good about their grammar. But there are lots of misconceptions. ☐ Grammatical errors have been eliminated. Grammar, contrary to popular belief, does not include punctuation or spelling, as we often see on lists of “common grammatical errors,” which usually contain things like misplaced commas (punctuation) the confusion of affect …

A punctuation primer

Editing for manuscript mechanics involves examining your manuscript closely for minuscule details like these: ☐ Punctuation is properly applied. The most common punctuation errors I see have to do with commas, which is why I created the Comma Cheat Sheet. Few people have trouble with periods. They go at the end of sentences. Period errors …

When editing, save mechanics for last

It’s worth emphasizing that manuscript mechanics are placed last on the Elements of Fiction Editing Checklist because, though they’re the things our critique partners often spend the most time on, they’re the least important element of fiction. If you get everything else right, a copyeditor can fix the mechanics. But if anything else is wrong, the …

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