I would be the first in line to admit, this is harder then it looks. I have dyslexia which makes writing accurately quite tough, but because of this I know a few tips to help write accurately.

Since writing has been so hard for me for many years, and basic spelling and grammar gets confused in my mind I made a cheat sheet that I use when editing my work. Most of my spelling issues can be fixed with online spell checks, things like Grammarly, but I like to know that my grammar is right, I do not like to rely overmuch on computers for this. With this in mind I set to work with a little notepad and wrote down guides for my main problems.

These are the solutions I would like to share with you, you may find them as useful as I did.

Commas

Writing Sunset Roma Italy Italia - Creative Commons by gnuckx

This has been a nightmare for me for many years. But it’s simple! Yes, yes it is simple, but it is easy to screw up. So here’s what I use to check all my work.

When you make a list use comma’s.

I like coffee cake mint and chips. Vs. I like coffee, cake, mint and chips.

Comma to separate adjectives. Notice the lack of comma after gentle. It feels like they should be one there, that’s one of the places I always mess up, it’s not needed there. Kind and gentle are two different aspects of the personality so the comma is needed between them.

He was a kind, gentle person. Vs. He was a kind gentle person.

Then you have commas for the purpose of breaking up sentences. It is here where you run the risk of using too many commas.

There are two main things to remember here. Comma before the FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet & so) and you must be able to read the sentence without the middle when using comma pairs.

  1. FANBOYS: Always use a comma before a fanboy, or use a comma after a connective like however.
  2. MIDDLEING: Writing books, which can be rather stressful, takes a long time. This still makes sense when we remove the middle: Writing books takes a long time.

Sentence Types

Sentences from the world

Here we are talking about the type of sentences needed for what you are talking about. Sentences are not all about keeping your grammar tidy, this is about bring your story to life. Let me explain:

Descriptive sentences can flow from one thing to the next and really bring a world to light, but will not work for an action scene. Why not? Well, read the following two examples.

With the bad guys hot on there heels they couldn’t risk slowing down, yet the running was getting to them and they were short of breath.

The bad guys are hot on there heels. They couldn’t stop. They couldn’t risk it. But they were running out of breath.

See how the short, sharp sentences force you to read quicker? Descriptive sentences lull you into the world the book is bringing to life. Short sharp sentences make great action scenes. Your sentences control the pace of your reading, this in turn controls the emotion of the reader which in turn brings your story to life. Use this knowledge well.

Paragraphs

Behind the Scenes: CNN's Declassified episode on the Kendall Myers case
View your paragraphs like a camera angle change on a set

The best advice I was ever given for wiritng is given from the point of view of watching a movie.

Change to a new paragraph every time the camera moves.

This makes perfect sense. The camera moves to a new subject, a new face, a new room, a new conversation. Watch a movie and jot down why the camera has moved each time. Reflect this in your writing.

If you read your work and see the camera move in your minds eyes while reading a paragraph split it up.

Passive Voice

Zombie Walk Paris 2015
Add ‘by zombie’ to check passiveness.

Most of the time we do not realise we are using passive voice. It just happens! If I were to check the information for this post here and now it is telling me that…. I am not using passive voice. Okay, that’s a first. Normally it tells me I have 5% passive voice or more, I spend hours trying to locate and fix. Normally fail.

Point. You don’t want passive voice in your reading. It sends people to sleep.

How do you check to see if you are writing with a passive voice? I found an answer that works for me on Twitter:

So, what’s a verb?

The verb means action, something done. To read and write, to jump and run.

Special Characters

062270:Gosforth Grammar School Gosforth Unknown 1965

The ones we think we know how to use. : ; – …

  1. … when used in speech it’s a trailing off. “I don’t know if I should…” Sentence unfinished, player gone into thought. In a paragraph it’s a pause for thought from the narrators point of view. and that sunset… wow, words do not describe.
  2. – it’s a sudden stop in a sentence. Being interrupted in conversation: “I was going to-” “But you didn’t!” To use this from a narrators point of view the scene would have to be interrupted. The sunset is the most beautiful – BOOM! The sound of the explosion shook the falling night.
  3. : & ;. I mention these together as they are often mixed up. First the colon :. Use this to further illustrate what you are talking about, give examples: It was obvious who was going to win: Sean. The Semicolon ;. Two sentences that could be used as one when both are related t the same thought: We made too many mistakes. We lost the game. VS. We made too many mistakes; we lost the game.

Stay Tuned

Coming up, we have articles on the fundamentals of chapters, narration types, novel openings and novel endings. To keep up to date with all this why not subscribe to the mailing list? or join our Facebook group?

If you are looking for some more handy tips, or some writing competitions. Check out these!


Kelly is an author and blogger who completed her first novel while still in high school.

She is currently a full time writer. Her works include the outlaws series (4 books), The Lady in the Loft collection (Anthologies), Gaming blogs and guides (hired work), travel writing and more.

While Kelly has been writing stories for many years she got her start at online blogging through a free online course. This is what led to her being a full time work from home writer. To this day she states “It’s the best move I ever made.”

To learn how to earn money from home yourself you can sign up here at no cost. (Premium options available.)

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