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Posts Tagged ‘grammar’

I was recently reading “Style – The Basics of Clarity and Grace” by Joseph M. Williams for an English class.  The author states using the word “he” as a generic pronoun could become a problem of biased language.  “Common sense demands that we not gratuitously offend reader, but if we reject he as a generic pronoun because it’s biased and they because some readers consider it ungrammatical, we are left with several bad choices.  We can try a first person we.  Some writers use one.  For years to come, we’ll have a problem with singular generic pronouns, and to some readers, any solution will be awkward.  I suspect that eventually we will accept the plural they as a correct singular.”  (p. 24- 25 – Style by Joseph M. Williams)

I don’t know how many times I have seen children’s magazines for parents with articles that use both he and she to describe a toddlers growth and so forth.  I just accept it because they are trying to write an article that encompasses both genders without using a they.   I have had instructors tell me to be more specific when I use a generic pronoun and it seems to help the story line.  Replacing a they with a different description helps too.  I don’t know if I agree totally with Williams about pronouns being biased.  I don’t get offended when I read articles that just use he.

So I guess the lesson here is seeing what works for you and your audience.

 

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Have you ever wished you could edit your manuscript like a pro?  Well who doesn’t?  I have been reading some editing tricks and there are many out there.  Here are a few that some authors have shared:

1.  Try looking at your manuscript from an objective point of view.  (This is not so easy because this is your baby after all!)  But if you look at your novel like a publisher would then you will likely see what they do.  Even if you have had friends or family members read your book and have given you excellent reviews they are all biased.  Only because they know you and like you already.  A stranger reading your novel for the first time is getting to know you through your writing.  Your voice needs to be unique and not annoying. “The writer’s voice sells books. You don’t get there by selling one manuscript. It takes a lot of writing to find your rhythm. Steve sees glimpses of this in beginning manuscripts.” Read more: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2010/11/14/editing-novel-steve-parolini/

2. Track your changes to the manuscript so if you don’t like the new changes then you can easily revert back to the original.  “With a huge manuscript, it’s so important to see the changes in process, and to be consistent. Using the “Edit” and “Find” tabs, I can quickly find a key phrase I’m looking for, or a character’s name, and edit from there.  If your changes are major, your manuscript’s tracked edits may end up being more confusing than helpful.  What I’m doing with DRAWN, since my revisions revolve around a few very different issues, is I tackle one type of revision at a time.” – author, Maria Lamba – http://marielamba.wordpress.com/2010/01/24/tricks-for-editing-your-novel/    Maria Lamba gives some great advice in her post on editing and she was generous in her sharing her ideas.

3.  Read your novel backwards.  Okay this might sound weird but you get a different feel of the writing.  You might find mistakes with grammar and style.  There could even be inconsistencies with a character or the plot. “This stuff is important because you want your plot to make sense logically to  the reader, your characters need to stand out from one another and the  characters’ dialogue needs to be appropriate and distinct; you don’t want all  your characters to talk exactly the same because it’s boring to the reader.”
Read more:  http://writinghood.com/writing/basic-tips-for-editing-your-novel/#ixzz1iKCfwi9f

4. Take some time away from editing and give your self a break.  Sometimes having time to think on things helps you find any loose ends when you pick it up again to edit. “Can an edit ever be finished? A book can be considered unfinished forever and you can continue making changes over and over again. But at some point the writer/publisher must decide that it is done. There is a process through rewrites, editing, proof reading, beta readers, line edit, copy edit etc but eventually it has to be put out there.” http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2010/11/14/editing-novel-steve-parolini/

Hopefully this gives you an idea on how important it is to edit before you pitch your idea to an agent/publisher.  I know when I have received a rejection letter from an agent it wasn’t until I read my query letter I understood why.  I had written some things that were a big turn off  to this agent.  Not offensive.  But something she felt would not fit in the category for which I was writing.  It is good to look at everything with a critical eye.  Because you can bet that someone else you sent it to is.

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