blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
Ages ago, the lovely [livejournal.com profile] georgia_hawkins  asked how people sit down and actually write: the brass tacks practical version of things. I've been an editor, writer and journalist for over 20 years, so I waved my hand loftily at the ease of answering such a question and then started to jot down a few notes. Then a few topics to cover at more length in my response, which quickly grew beyond the limit of a comment. And then beyond the limit of a single post. And then I needed to research it more and provide more examples ... and suffice to say that now, what must be coming up on a year later I have still not come close to finishing the bugger and have 11,000 words of practical writing, technical and editing tips languishing on my hard drive, helping nobody.

So, as part of Operation Finish Things, I am going to start posting bits when I have finished them up to something approaching my satisfaction. They will be, as the trains say here, late and out of timetable order. But I hope, also like trains, of some use.

There are two very important caveats. Firstly, nothing I say represents the One True Way. There is no One true Way, these are just things that I have seen work for myself or others over the years. Please feel free to comment with things that work well for you, too. 

Secondly, everything I have written below and everything that will come in future parts in this series is written from the perspective of the advice I would give someone who was planning to publish their work (because I cannot turn off my work brain to write this). Not all of it is appropriate for every occasion or for everyone in fandom. Do not think that you need do any more than you want to, because fandom is first and foremost about the enjoyment of participants. Needless to say, I sometimes fail at everything I am going to advise all through these posts. They represent an ideal, like five serves of veg and an hour's exercise every day. But like all ideals, they are good goals.

All quotes are given with attributions, all unattributed quotes are made up on the spot for the purpose of the exercise and should not be judged too harshly. Annoyingly for the lovely [livejournal.com profile] georgia_hawkins , I've begun at the end with my section on editing your own work, which is of absolutely no use in answering her original question, but may be of some help for some of you. Inevitably there will be an appalling typo or two below, as there is in every 'how to edit' post. I apologise in advance and submit that it cannot be worse than the time I received a rejection from a Political Figure telling me that my freelance copy was far too easygoing for the Pubic Service.


THE EDITING PROCESS
Spotting blunders )

Put it aside for a time )


Basic beta checklist )
blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
Ages ago, the lovely [livejournal.com profile] georgia_hawkins  asked how people sit down and actually write: the brass tacks practical version of things. I've been an editor, writer and journalist for over 20 years, so I waved my hand loftily at the ease of answering such a question and then started to jot down a few notes. Then a few topics to cover at more length in my response, which quickly grew beyond the limit of a comment. And then beyond the limit of a single post. And then I needed to research it more and provide more examples ... and suffice to say that now, what must be coming up on a year later I have still not come close to finishing the bugger and have 11,000 words of practical writing, technical and editing tips languishing on my hard drive, helping nobody.

So, as part of Operation Finish Things, I am going to start posting bits when I have finished them up to something approaching my satisfaction. They will be, as the trains say here, late and out of timetable order. But I hope, also like trains, of some use.

There are two very important caveats. Firstly, nothing I say represents the One True Way. There is no One true Way, these are just things that I have seen work for myself or others over the years. Please feel free to comment with things that work well for you, too. 

Secondly, everything I have written below and everything that will come in future parts in this series is written from the perspective of the advice I would give someone who was planning to publish their work (because I cannot turn off my work brain to write this). Not all of it is appropriate for every occasion or for everyone in fandom. Do not think that you need do any more than you want to, because fandom is first and foremost about the enjoyment of participants. Needless to say, I sometimes fail at everything I am going to advise all through these posts. They represent an ideal, like five serves of veg and an hour's exercise every day. But like all ideals, they are good goals.

All quotes are given with attributions, all unattributed quotes are made up on the spot for the purpose of the exercise and should not be judged too harshly. Annoyingly for the lovely [livejournal.com profile] georgia_hawkins , I've begun at the end with my section on editing your own work, which is of absolutely no use in answering her original question, but may be of some help for some of you. Inevitably there will be an appalling typo or two below, as there is in every 'how to edit' post. I apologise in advance and submit that it cannot be worse than the time I received a rejection from a Political Figure telling me that my freelance copy was far too easygoing for the Pubic Service.


THE EDITING PROCESS
Spotting blunders )

Put it aside for a time )


Basic beta checklist )
blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
Right, back to the task that I thought would be a fun exercise for an evening. I really should drink more, then I wouldn't have ideas like this ...

The apostrophe
No punctuation symbol attracts as much hatred and passion as the apostrophe. I have had people swear, cry and throw things over this little curly squiggle. But it really and truly is not that hard. There are three simple rules. You will find them easy to remember. And then you will know which rule to check under to see if there's an example to fit your case since you have forgotten what the rules mean.


blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
Right, back to the task that I thought would be a fun exercise for an evening. I really should drink more, then I wouldn't have ideas like this ...

The apostrophe
No punctuation symbol attracts as much hatred and passion as the apostrophe. I have had people swear, cry and throw things over this little curly squiggle. But it really and truly is not that hard. There are three simple rules. You will find them easy to remember. And then you will know which rule to check under to see if there's an example to fit your case since you have forgotten what the rules mean.


blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
Just a few quick comments before I settle down to the long haul of the remaining punctuation symbols.

Someone asked a question that I have been asked by many writers in the past: 'should I concentrate on editing what I have already written, or writing what is left?'

In almost every case, you are best to keep writing. This is because there are only two tricks to writing a book: having an idea, and finishing it. Once you start getting that idea down, you should keep going. You can edit it later, Or someone like me can do it for you. But no one else can write it for you.

There are three exceptions to this rule:
1. When you have Writer's Block of Doom and cannot create another word even with a gun to your temple. It can be handy to go back and remember why you loved this book at the beginning, and doing some editing is a good excuse for a read-through.

2. You are posting it chapter-by-chapter on the internet as it is being written.

3. You suddenly realise that you would rather write it from a different POV or other such major change.  Because this can change major sections of your novel, you should at the very least go back and mark up the changes you will need to make to each chapter, especially any parts of your narrative that will need to be cut or shifted elsewhere.

Thanks to everyone who has brought an "I was taught X" discussion to the comments on the previous post, they're fascinating, and a lot of fun. While in some cases I am answering with something on the lines of Y is correct, and better than X because … in most cases the replies are along the lines of, actually, X and Y have both been acceptable, and this one may be currently stronger, because …

This is not a cop-out. As [profile] blindmouse says, it's depressing how much of grammar all boils down to being a matter of style. Style changes across countries and through time. For example, Mr. Draco Malfoy, Esq. is perfectly acceptable 17th century usage, but not acceptable in formal 20th century usage (and just barmy in 21st). But it's better in a snarky sense than D. Malfoy, Esq, regardless of when you say it.

Similarly, "Hi Ron, hi Hermione, hi Remus." may cause conniptions in those who insist on "Hi, Hermione", and so on, but I would rather they froth than construct a sentence with five commas and six words. This is why I can't submit to that archive that insists all speech be perfectly granmmatical. It's not. It never has been, never will be. We talk in fragments, are discursive, lose track, faff ... Even Jane Austen used ungrammatical speech at times. (Shakespeare would be dying of laughter at this whole discussion. "Just make it up!" he would say. "I do that all the time!")

There are editors and subeditors out there who would be horrified to hear me say that. They are members of this league. They are possibly moderating an archive or modding a fest near you. Treat them gently. They have terrible frown lines and are not happy people.

Above all, don't panic. I am writing this series so that when you have one of those three in the morning moments, when you cannot recall if the punctuation should go inside or outside the brackets, you have a handy, free reference that is shorter than 40 pages and covers most common mistakes (because I am familiar with most of them).

You do not need to punctuate perfectly. All you need to do is convey the meaning that you intend. If your punctuation is clear and does not change the meaning of what you want to say, then it's fine. Even if the National League of Pedants would frown. Back to apostrophes, I may be some time.
blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
Just a few quick comments before I settle down to the long haul of the remaining punctuation symbols.

Someone asked a question that I have been asked by many writers in the past: 'should I concentrate on editing what I have already written, or writing what is left?'

In almost every case, you are best to keep writing. This is because there are only two tricks to writing a book: having an idea, and finishing it. Once you start getting that idea down, you should keep going. You can edit it later, Or someone like me can do it for you. But no one else can write it for you.

There are three exceptions to this rule:
1. When you have Writer's Block of Doom and cannot create another word even with a gun to your temple. It can be handy to go back and remember why you loved this book at the beginning, and doing some editing is a good excuse for a read-through.

2. You are posting it chapter-by-chapter on the internet as it is being written.

3. You suddenly realise that you would rather write it from a different POV or other such major change.  Because this can change major sections of your novel, you should at the very least go back and mark up the changes you will need to make to each chapter, especially any parts of your narrative that will need to be cut or shifted elsewhere.

Thanks to everyone who has brought an "I was taught X" discussion to the comments on the previous post, they're fascinating, and a lot of fun. While in some cases I am answering with something on the lines of Y is correct, and better than X because … in most cases the replies are along the lines of, actually, X and Y have both been acceptable, and this one may be currently stronger, because …

This is not a cop-out. As [profile] blindmouse says, it's depressing how much of grammar all boils down to being a matter of style. Style changes across countries and through time. For example, Mr. Draco Malfoy, Esq. is perfectly acceptable 17th century usage, but not acceptable in formal 20th century usage (and just barmy in 21st). But it's better in a snarky sense than D. Malfoy, Esq, regardless of when you say it.

Similarly, "Hi Ron, hi Hermione, hi Remus." may cause conniptions in those who insist on "Hi, Hermione", and so on, but I would rather they froth than construct a sentence with five commas and six words. This is why I can't submit to that archive that insists all speech be perfectly granmmatical. It's not. It never has been, never will be. We talk in fragments, are discursive, lose track, faff ... Even Jane Austen used ungrammatical speech at times. (Shakespeare would be dying of laughter at this whole discussion. "Just make it up!" he would say. "I do that all the time!")

There are editors and subeditors out there who would be horrified to hear me say that. They are members of this league. They are possibly moderating an archive or modding a fest near you. Treat them gently. They have terrible frown lines and are not happy people.

Above all, don't panic. I am writing this series so that when you have one of those three in the morning moments, when you cannot recall if the punctuation should go inside or outside the brackets, you have a handy, free reference that is shorter than 40 pages and covers most common mistakes (because I am familiar with most of them).

You do not need to punctuate perfectly. All you need to do is convey the meaning that you intend. If your punctuation is clear and does not change the meaning of what you want to say, then it's fine. Even if the National League of Pedants would frown. Back to apostrophes, I may be some time.
blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
A long time ago I wrote the first in what was going to be a regular series of posts looking at all the magical little bits that come together to make a good piece of writing. I had intended the delay before the next installment to be less than 10 months, but you've all met me and my inability to remember to finish things.

SO, punctuation marks: the footsoldiers of communication. I've called them pixies because they are a tricksy little bunch. They look all friendly and sweet, but if not treated with respect, they can reveal their gnashy little teeth and go you.

That said, the rules of punctuation are not difficult. There is some room for flexibility and personal style, and some degree of interpretation on the basis of nationality and formality of communication. I'm going to give a basic introduction and rule set below, but with a slant towards fiction. And while 20 years ago I would have given a long description of the differences between English and American standards, the internet has seen those differences start to crumble. In addition, some styles that are rigidly adhered to in books are not used at all in newspapers or magazines. I'll mention a few, but for the most part I am using the styles most commonly used in publishing.

There are two levels of 'rules' for punctuation. The first level consists of actual rules, the second level is a matter of style. While most of the below are rules that should be followed, I have mentioned some style points beyond just the national styles, each is marked as such.

Learn the rules and use punctuation clearly and your beta will be happier, your writing smoother, and the mods at certain archives will have nothing to whine about.

Now I am writing from my position as a professional writer and editor of over 20 years' experience, but the one thing that experience has taught me as a certainty is that whenever one makes declarations on this topic, there will be others who disagree passionately. If you have a serious disagreement with any of the following that you would like to discuss at more length that the comments allow, feel free to get in touch via blamebrampton at gmail dot com and yes, there are almost certainly typos in this entry, my typing is rubbish. Feel free to mention them and I'll edit.


Part B will be written shortly (er, probably) and will look at the apostrophe, the quotation mark, the dash, the hyphen, the parenthesis, the square bracket and anything else that I can remember I've forgotten between now and then.
blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
A long time ago I wrote the first in what was going to be a regular series of posts looking at all the magical little bits that come together to make a good piece of writing. I had intended the delay before the next installment to be less than 10 months, but you've all met me and my inability to remember to finish things.

SO, punctuation marks: the footsoldiers of communication. I've called them pixies because they are a tricksy little bunch. They look all friendly and sweet, but if not treated with respect, they can reveal their gnashy little teeth and go you.

That said, the rules of punctuation are not difficult. There is some room for flexibility and personal style, and some degree of interpretation on the basis of nationality and formality of communication. I'm going to give a basic introduction and rule set below, but with a slant towards fiction. And while 20 years ago I would have given a long description of the differences between English and American standards, the internet has seen those differences start to crumble. In addition, some styles that are rigidly adhered to in books are not used at all in newspapers or magazines. I'll mention a few, but for the most part I am using the styles most commonly used in publishing.

There are two levels of 'rules' for punctuation. The first level consists of actual rules, the second level is a matter of style. While most of the below are rules that should be followed, I have mentioned some style points beyond just the national styles, each is marked as such.

Learn the rules and use punctuation clearly and your beta will be happier, your writing smoother, and the mods at certain archives will have nothing to whine about.

Now I am writing from my position as a professional writer and editor of over 20 years' experience, but the one thing that experience has taught me as a certainty is that whenever one makes declarations on this topic, there will be others who disagree passionately. If you have a serious disagreement with any of the following that you would like to discuss at more length that the comments allow, feel free to get in touch via blamebrampton at gmail dot com and yes, there are almost certainly typos in this entry, my typing is rubbish. Feel free to mention them and I'll edit.


Part B will be written shortly (er, probably) and will look at the apostrophe, the quotation mark, the dash, the hyphen, the parenthesis, the square bracket and anything else that I can remember I've forgotten between now and then.
blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
No, that is not an H/D title, it's one of my crazed ways of explaining How Things Work.

The wacky world of fandom is a richly imaginative one, with a lot of talent leaping about, but not a whole lot of input on the craft of writing. As I mentioned in a friend's journal, this is crazed, because for any other craft, we're all about teaching the technique, yet for some reason we just expect people to make their own way with writing.

Writing fiction is something that comes very naturally to some people and is hard-wrung from others, but it's a natural imperative. We're a narrative-based species. When we talk about ourselves we do it in terms of our personal stories, when we meet people, we judge them on theirs.

But although narrative is one of our most basic human impulses, written narrative is not something that comes without a raft of issues. It's analogous to running: some people head off like a gazelle in bare feet, others need corrective shoes, others look like ducks, and others sprain their ankles after three paces. Yet with an awareness of why problems come about, most people can run happily. Some just need to spend more money at the shoe shop, others need a trainer to show them style, others need glasses to spot the pot holes.

The issues that plague narrative writing are more complex, but they can similarly be fixed with a bit of awareness and effort. I like to think of them all as a series of fairies, good and evil, that flutter around our sweetly bowed creative heads as we scratch nib to paper [which may have started off as an original idea for me, goodness knows, but certainly wasnt a unique one; it's like the lightbulb ...]. You should probably be warned at this point that I'm also the woman who began a description of how hair dye sticks to hair with: "Imagine a lettuce dipped in melted chocolate ..."

blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
No, that is not an H/D title, it's one of my crazed ways of explaining How Things Work.

The wacky world of fandom is a richly imaginative one, with a lot of talent leaping about, but not a whole lot of input on the craft of writing. As I mentioned in a friend's journal, this is crazed, because for any other craft, we're all about teaching the technique, yet for some reason we just expect people to make their own way with writing.

Writing fiction is something that comes very naturally to some people and is hard-wrung from others, but it's a natural imperative. We're a narrative-based species. When we talk about ourselves we do it in terms of our personal stories, when we meet people, we judge them on theirs.

But although narrative is one of our most basic human impulses, written narrative is not something that comes without a raft of issues. It's analogous to running: some people head off like a gazelle in bare feet, others need corrective shoes, others look like ducks, and others sprain their ankles after three paces. Yet with an awareness of why problems come about, most people can run happily. Some just need to spend more money at the shoe shop, others need a trainer to show them style, others need glasses to spot the pot holes.

The issues that plague narrative writing are more complex, but they can similarly be fixed with a bit of awareness and effort. I like to think of them all as a series of fairies, good and evil, that flutter around our sweetly bowed creative heads as we scratch nib to paper [which may have started off as an original idea for me, goodness knows, but certainly wasnt a unique one; it's like the lightbulb ...]. You should probably be warned at this point that I'm also the woman who began a description of how hair dye sticks to hair with: "Imagine a lettuce dipped in melted chocolate ..."

Profile

blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
blamebrampton

May 2017

S M T W T F S
 123456
7891011 12 13
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031   

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 20th, 2017 05:35 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios