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”