Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Tipsy Tuesday

I had an author day on Sunday over at Love Romances Cafe, and had quite a list of questions to answer from the owner Dawn. One of the questions that's nearly always asked is "What advice do you have for aspiring writers?"

My response is always: Read, read, read. And then read some more. Not just the how-to/craft books, but also the books in the genre you're planning to write, whether that's romance, mystery, horror, sci-fi, etc. If you're targeting a specific publisher, read books by authors already published with them.

Another tip: Do *not* expect your editor to be your grammar/punctuation cop. You want your editor to be able to concentrate on the story--does it flow, are there sections that don't make sense or need more fleshing out, etc. (Having said that, each house has its own style, so you may see grammatical and/or punctuation changes even if you were very careful. Case in point is my manuscript for Kensington that just went through copy edits. When I wrote it, I followed the comma rules that Ellora's Cave uses, only to see that the copy editor inserted commas all over the place. Commas that, I might add, I would have had in there had I not followed Ellora's Cave rules. Other things you won't know until you get into the edit stage are the house rules on words like blond/blonde.) If you're unsure of yourself in this area, invest in a Strunk & White Elements of Style and a dictionary.

Plus, if you're using a word processing program like Microsoft Word, pay attention to the squiggly colored lines that appear under certain words. Red means the program thinks it's a misspelled word (sometimes it's not), green means there's a possible grammar glitch.

Turn in the cleanest manuscript you can and you're a step ahead of the rest of the pack.


Colleen Love said...

DOH! I'm going through the comma issue as we speak! Not over use of, but a very consistant placement of a comma before a quotation when it should be a period. At least I'm consistant. : )

Very interesting that each publishing house has it's own style.
Thanks for the book suggestion. I'm going to go find a copy.
I love Microsoft word, it has been a helpful learning tool for me.

Becoming an author is an ever learning process. I love it and couldn't imagine life without it now.

Thanks Sherrill! I love this section you have started including in your posts!!


Sherrill Quinn said...

I'm such a comma whore, Colleen, I'll admit. Usually it's a case of the editors having to take commas out. *G*

You're right about the writing process being one of continuous learning. That's one reason I don't like to miss my local RWA chapter meetings--I always learn so much that will make me a better writer!

I'm glad you're enjoying this portion of my blog, Colleen. :)