Do hyphens drive you crazy? Did you know that the Chicago Manual of Style has a hyphenation table for compound modifiers and commonly used prefixes*? Not only is it in the Manual, it is also available online. I love being able to reference this on my computer, especially if I’m not sitting right next to my copy of the Manual. Click here (PDF – new window) to check it out.
Compound modifiers are those multiple-word phrases that modify a noun (also called phrasal adjectives or adjectival phrases). The Manual‘s general rule is that if the modifier comes before a noun, it is hyphenated, and if the noun comes first, no hyphen is needed. Of course this is just a general rule, refer to your style guide or dictionary if you’re ever unsure.
*These are not the only times that hyphens are appropriate. The main function of a hyphen is to aid in clarity and readability.
What’s your experience with hyphens? Does their usage come easily to you, or is it something you struggle with?
Writing a novel (or anything, for that matter) is quite a lot of work. There are quite a few “rules” and “styles” of English that ultimately become the choice of the author/editor/publishing house, with the key to “correctness” being consistency. Whether you choose to employ a serial comma is up to you, but do it consistently throughout. Whether you choose to put a character’s thoughts in italics, single quotations, or leave them to be inferred by the reader, do it consistently.
But what about things like names of people and places? Especially if you’ve made them up? I’ve worked on several projects where a person or place’s name has changed throughout. Here’s my solution. Choose which one is “correct.” Do a search and find for any other alternatives that might have turned up. Make sure they are consistent.
You may also want to do the same for commonly misspelled/misused words and words that you know you have a tendency to overuse.
Remember, an editor should catch these things, but the cleaner the manuscript you send to an editor, the more they can focus on catching the bigger problems (check out #4 on this list from Katie McCoach, and read the rest of it, too).
Have you ever found an inconsistency such as these in your own works? How did you go about correcting it?
I have previously admitted to having some issues with dialogue, and I thought it would be useful to have all my reminders in the same place, so why not share those with you? My problem mostly comes with capitalization, and it gets tiring to keep looking these up. Frankly, while there are some sites I like, I don’t like having to sort through a bunch of places to find what I’m looking for. Continue reading “[Writing] Dialogue – The Basic Mechanics”
I finished the first draft of my novel, now what?
Much like the writing processes and habits, the revising process varies from one person to another. No matter what order is the most effective for your process, there are some shared steps to take. Continue reading “Finding the Right [Writing] Revision Process”
Why I picked it up: This book actually is listed as a recommended resource in The Copyeditor’s Handbook, and I’d been curious ever since I heard of it. I finally made an excuse to buy it (it’s inexpensive, but if you don’t know already, I’m fairly spend-conscious) and I’m really glad I did. I purchased the paperback copy, because when it comes to reference books, I like to be able to flip back and forth easily.
Elements of Style gets straight to the point. It is a nice reminder–or introduction, depending on who you are–of the rules of writing in the English language. It deals with punctuation, clarity, concision, and effective sentences, among other things.
Once the examples were introduced as the incorrect/less-preferable on the left, and the correct/more-preferable on the right, I felt like sometimes I needed a reminder as to which was which, especially if I took a break in reading it for a while. I could have used some more examples and more thorough explaining of the existing ones.
Elements of Style is not the be-all-end-all definitive guide to the English language, and certainly not a guide on how to write fiction, but it is definitely a good resource to have on hand. As a guide, Strunk and White may have some views on writing that not everyone agrees on, but the basics are there for the easy taking.
Have you ever used this resource? What others do you suggest?