[Writing] Resource – CMOS Hyphenation Table

[Writing] A Byers Editing Blog Series for Writers, Inspiring confidence and imparting the skills for success

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?

 

Checking Your Own [Writing]

[Writing] A Byers Editing Blog Series for Writers, Inspiring confidence and imparting the skills for success

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?

[Writing] Dialogue – The Basic Mechanics

[Writing] A Byers Editing Blog Series for Writers, Inspiring confidence and imparting the skills for success

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”

[Writing] A Byers Editing Blog Series for Writers, Inspiring confidence and imparting the skills for success

Finding the Right [Writing] Revision Process

[Writing] A Byers Editing Blog Series for Writers, Inspiring confidence and imparting the skills for success

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”

Resource Review – Elements of Style

Elements of Style
by William Strunk and E.B. White

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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?

Do More With Your Kindle!

Did you know that you can do more on your Kindle than purchase and read e-books from Amazon/Overdrive/Smashwords/etc.? I’m here to offer another way to utilize this beautiful piece of technology.

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Please note: my experience is based on personal use of a Kindle Keyboard and a Kindle Paperwhite. Other brands and devices may vary.

The following is based on using one simple feature: emailing documents to the device (instructions and link further on).

As a college student, I used this to view the many documents my professors liked to share with us. Not only did it save time, money, and paper, but it was also much lighter and easier to carry around.

As a beta-reader and editor, this feature is super convenient. My experience with Word (.docx) files is pretty easy. Once it has arrived on my device, the highlight and notes features work well for me to record short thoughts or highlight problem areas. While this system isn’t perfect (I haven’t yet seen a way to export the document with highlights and notes), it’s still very convenient. I am able to make my first read-through of a client’s manuscript without being attached to my computer. This has an added benefit: I read their work on more than one type of screen, which is good for catching a better percentage of errors (I am human, after all).

Here’s the technical part of sending documents to your Kindle.

Your Kindle has its own unique e-mail address. On the Amazon website, go to the “Your Account” menu, “Manage Your Content and Devices,” and click “Settings” (the far right choice). Scroll down a bit, and Amazon will list your Kindle e-mail address(es) and their associated device. Recently I’ve found that as long as I send it to one of my kindle addresses, the document is available in the cloud for whichever device I decide to use.

Wait! This isn’t the only information you need. Scroll down just  a little more. “Approved Personal Document E-mail List” contains a list of the e-mails that your Kindle can ACCEPT e-mails from. If you don’t add your address (or wherever your documents are coming from), they won’t get to your Kindle! You really don’t want to know how long it took me to figure out why they weren’t sending at first…

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Amazon’s help page for “Kindle Personal Documents Service” has specific instructions and file types supported.

I hope this has been a helpful tip on another way to use your Kindle. Happy Reading!

Resources! Punctuation and Capitalization in Dialogue

Have you ever said a word over and over again until you aren’t even sure what the word is? Until it loses all meaning and you begin to question the meaning of words at all, to question the meaning of life?

Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration.

Dialogue is one of those things for me. I know how to capitalize and punctuate dialogue, but when I think about it too much, I start to second-guess myself. It’s one of the things I find myself looking up from time to time because my mind has warped my thoughts to the point of feeling like I’ve never known a single thing about it. Usually, when I do look it up, I’ve been doing everything correctly, but it sure is crazy the power of the mind to make you second-guess something you know you know.

This post, Punctuation in Dialogue from The Editor’s Blog by Beth Hill is one I keep coming back to. In a single article it answers most of the questions I find myself asking, and is written clearly. I love that I can easily discern between examples and explanation.

There are some follow-up posts, More Punctuation in Dialogue–A Reader’s QuestionsEven More Punctuation in Dialogue–A Reader’s Question, and a downloadable Punctuation in Dialogue (PDF). I haven’t invested the 99 cents for the PDF, the articles are usually sufficient for my needs.

So, if you find yourself, like me, sitting cross-eyed and contemplating dialogue, I think these articles are a good place to start.

Resources! National Novel Writing Month – NaNoWriMo

November is National Novel Writing Month. Also known as NaNoWriMo, the idea is to challenge yourself to write a 50,000 word novel within the 30 days of November.

When I first heard of NaNo, I thought it was a great idea, how could there be any cons to such a productive month!? While I find myself planning to attempt this idea again, I thought I might share some of the pros and cons that I’ve come across in the time between first learning of NaNo and now. I think that ultimately, it comes down to who you are and how you work that determines whether NaNo could be right for you. So here are some things to consider:

Pros Cons
  • An opportunity to form a daily writing habit or set numerical word count goals
  • Both online and local writing communities to engage with/in
  • Pep talks and tools to help increase creativity and productivity
  • Feeling of accomplishment at having finished the challenge
  • For some, numerical goals are more harmful than good–they can stunt creativity and productivity
  • Focus on quantity over quality
  • An added amount of stress to daily life that can become unhealthy
  • Feeling of inadequacy if you don’t finish the challenge

When I set out to write this, I felt like I had a lot more to say on the subject…

How about you? Do you participate in NaNoWriMo? Why or why not? Do you agree or disagree with the points above? Do you have anything to add?