are a few general writing tips for writers.
Most editors prefer the following:
Times Roman 12 point typeface
Right margin not justified
Page numbers in the upper right-hand corner
beginning 1/3 down the page
Your last name, slash and title (name/title) in the upper left-hand corner of every page
the beginning of each chapter and each section break (hiatus, etc.) begin paragraph flush left
Several asterisks (**** ) are used to denote a hiatus—a break in time
or movement to a different place.
is something wrong?”
not sure. It’s complicated.”
“We need to talk. Why don’t you come into the city tomorrow?”
the landscape appear and disappear through the
He should arrive at his sister's apartment by mid-
Extra spaces and transition sentences versus Hiatus:
When the scene falls within the same period of time (later in day), a hiatus
isn’t necessary. Just add a few spaces.
“Jim, is something
sure. It’s complicated.”
“We need to talk. Come on over. I’ll make a pot of coffee.”
Jim stood at
the front door of his sister’s apartment. Should he tell her
The same is true if you use a "transition" sentence.
"Jim, is something wrong?"
"I’m not sure. It’s complicated."
"We need to talk. Why don’t you come into the city tomorrow?"
The next morning, Jim watched the landscape appear and
disappear through the train window. He should arrive at his sister’s
apartment by mid-morning.
writing tip is for those writers who don’t want to read academic explanations, which only confuses them. It may not fit into the classroom, but it works for me, so I’m going to share it with you. It’s an easy way to remember when to use a comma in a sentence.
a sentence has a noun and verb in the first part and a noun and verb in the last part, you must have a comma. When you just have a verb in the last part of the sentence (no noun), you don’t need a comma.
Examples: I saw the car coming, and I jumped out of the way.
I saw the car coming and jumped out of the way.
also, need to set off prepositional phrases. Writers often use those phrases
to start a sentence.
Example: Seeing the car coming, I jumped out of the way.
are also used for pauses, a list of things, etc., but if you remember just the above rules, you are ahead of the game.
dash is stronger than a comma. In dialogue, it is used to show breaks in thoughts
and for emphasis. At the end of the sentence, it also denotes interruption. Do not use dashes when commas will do. Too
many dashes on a page can distract the reader. There are no spaces between the
dash and the letters on either side of a dash and make sure you use the em dash—a long dash (length of an “m”),
not two short dashes or one short one. In some versions of Microsoft Word
for PCs, you can form an em dash by typing the first word, hitting
the hyphen key twice and then typing the second word (no spaces between letters). The
program should turn the two hyphens into an em dash for you.
Examples: She needed to do this—for the sake of her family.
told you before that I’m not going to—”
“I know, I know, you’ve made it clear that you don’t want
to get involved!”
using an ellipsis—those three little dots that indicate a pause in the middle of a sentence or an incomplete thought—make
sure you add punctuation (period or question mark) when the ellipsis falls at the end of the sentence. There should be a space between the last letter before and after the dots and between each dot.
Examples: "I don’t want to do this, but . . . it's time."
"If they were going to break up anyway . . . ."
Points of View (POV) in fiction:
The following definitions for narrative points of view are:
First Person: The story
is told from the point of view of the narrator, using the pronoun “I” and only the main character sees and experiences
Second Person: The narrator tells the story using "you,"
however, it is seldom used except in Self-Help books.
Third Person: Most novels
are written in this point of view. The story is either told through the perspective
of one character, using the pronoun “he” or “she” or several characters with different perspectives.
Omniscient: The story is
told through an observer who knows everything, hence—omniscient—god-like.
For first time writers, I recommend using either First or Third Person point
of view. Third Person allows a writer to get inside the head of the characters. Authors can go into different points of view within a chapter or write one chapter
in one character’s POV and the next in another’s POV. Occasionally,
you will read a book where the author jumps from one person’s POV to another person’s POV within a paragraph or
page. This can be disorienting and confusing.
Agents and editors are now saying, “Cool it with the adverbs. You don’t need them.” So check all adverbs to make sure they are absolutely necessary.
example, the adverb, “absolutely” in the above sentence is not needed. However,
adverbs are often used in fictional dialogue for emphasis. Example: “The doctor says it’s absolutely necessary for you to take this medicine every day.”
suddenly actually undoubtedly
Tags denote who is speaking.
In the old days, authors worked hard to use words other than “said.”
Now editors want the tags to be invisible. They want he said/she said,
believing that the dialogue should speak for itself.
There are exceptions, of course.
If the character is saying something under his/her breath, it is necessary to write, “I’m not going to
do it,” she mutters (or whispers).
Writers avoid using them like the plague. (That sentence alone should convince you not to use clichés.) What
characterizes a cliché is its trite connotation. It may take more time to come
up with the right words to express an emotion or situation, but good writing is never trite.
The definition of trite is “hackneyed with overuse,” and writers are always striving for freshness and
There are two instances when clichés can be appropriate: fictional
dialogue and in blogs. Why? Because
people use clichés when they talk. Dialogue should be as realistic as possible,
and a blog is basically a monologue.
When writers send out query letters (snail mail) with attachments, they should never staple them. Agents and editors don’t like staples.
That is why you always type your name and title at the top left corner of each page.
If your letter and attachments fall on the floor and get mixed in with other letters and attachments, everything can
easily be reunited.
hope these general writing tips are helpful to you. If you have a question about any of the tips, please feel free to