Sunday, December 10, 2006

Know your basics

A good number of writers, or wannabe writers, seem to think they can get by without knowing things like ... oh, like grammar, or spelling, or formatting. Some seem to think editors will take care of all this for them.

It's not true. You have to know these things. You don't have to be Shakespeare, but you need to be a decent speller and to at least learn the basics of grammar. You also need to pay attention to formatting your stories.

First, why do you need to know this stuff. Simple: Because if you don't, then you will never be published. Editors receive hundreds or thousands of stories or books a month; often they are looking for reasons to NOT publish your story. Don't give them any solid reasons. Keep your work professional, and they will treat you as a professional. And you will eventually be published.

Second, how do you learn grammar and spelling and formatting. I'm guessing if you are interested in being a writer, you likely already know the basics from school. But even if you don't, you can still learn. Go to your local library or book store, then head to the reference section. There should be some books on grammar and spelling. I know there will be a number of books on how to get published, and most of them will have a section on formatting.

Here's some tips from me:
1.) Always keep a dictionary and thesaurus next to your writing space. A little book on basic grammar and punctuation couldn't hurt either. Whenever you are unsure about something, turn to these books.
2.) Don't trust spellcheck in your writing software. Use it, but don't trust it. There's a lot spellcheck won't catch.
3.) Edit, edit and edit. Then edit some more. Read over your own material until you're bored to tears with it. Find mistakes, fix them, then keep looking for more.
4.) Have others read your work. This is important. A while back I was making pdf files of my first novel and to do so I had to switch between a couple of different softwares also while switching my files from Mac to PC formats; for some reason, some of my punctuation went missing. Friends of mine caught this. Thank goodness.

I'm sure there are other things I could add, but I'll keep it short.

Also, I know I'm not perfect, so I don't mean to come off as a know-it-all. I make mistakes with my grammar and spelling too. I just keep working at it.


Howard von Darkmoor said...

Good post, Ty, and thanks for taking the time to continue helping out all writers. Your words are appreciated!

Ty said...

Thanks, Jason. I sort of think of it as helping others by helping myself. My blog helps me to keep focused.

Ty said...

Oh, and another thing for Jason ... been wondering, why are you so interested in reviewing?

Not that I don't appreciate reading your blog, and not that I have anything against reviews or reviewing ... I'm just curious.

Figured it would be better to ask here than at your own blog, though you might want to post a reply there instead of here.

Howard von Darkmoor said...

Duly answered, my good man, duly answered.

Howard von Darkmoor said...

No comment, Ty? And after all the thought I put into that just because of you.

Ty said...

Huh? I did respond, over at your blog. But I see it didn't show up. I'll fix that.