Sentence Fragments: To Use or Not to Use?
Sentence fragments are common in fiction, but what are they and how should we use them? In this post, I’ll break down what a sentence fragment is, theorize why authors use sentence fragments, discuss their pros and cons, and finally suggest some tips for using them.
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The Pros of Simple Prose
Lately, I’ve been working with several authors who’ve come to me after receiving feedback about bad “grammar” in their books or reviews citing difficult, clunky prose. I’ll rant and rave about the public’s misunderstanding of grammar some other time, but here I want to make a case for why you should keep the language (not the themes or plot) in your book simple.
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Do You Need a Proofread?
I see this discussion a lot on message boards like Reddit and Kboards: if your manuscript has been copy edited, do you need to get it proofread, too? The short answer is yes, most likely. I’m an enormous advocate of doing two or more editing passes. In this post, I’ll outline why.
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How Bad Are Adverbs Really?
The advice that writers should never use adverbs gets thrown around a lot. Every couple of days I see a post about this so-called “rule” on /r/writing, and the responses are always the same: “But I like adverbs!” Adverbs aren’t inherently bad, but they can make for weak and uninteresting writing. In this post, I’m going to talk specifically about adverbs as they pertain to describing emotions.
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About Misplaced Modifiers
A common stylistic issue I come across while editing is misplaced modifiers. In short, a misplaced modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that is separated from the word it modifies, causing awkwardness or confusion. Misplaced modifiers can also change the meaning of a sentence or be totally illogical. In this post, I analyze some examples of poorly placed modifiers and discuss the best practice for using modifiers.
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On the Subject of Grammar “Rules”
This afternoon, I was thinking, as I often do, about grammar rules. After speaking with a client and giving some feedback, I was struck by the blurry and subjective nature of English grammar. We often speak of grammar “rules,” but to what extent are the rules actually “rules”? Who even makes the rules? It’s not as clear as I once thought, which has made my life as an editor more challenging but also far more interesting.
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How to Use an Em Dash
The em dash (the longest of the three types of dash) is a useful piece of punctuation, but it’s often misused (though not as much as commas) and not typographically rendered correctly. In this post, I’ll discuss how to use an em dash and how to correctly format it in your text. Also, all my examples in this post are space-themed, so buckle up!
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Using commas with and and but
About a month ago, I wrote a post about a common comma mistake: separating the subject and the verb with a comma. Here, I’m going to tackle how to use commas with the coordinating conjunctions and and but. Of course, we use commas with these coordinating conjunctions in lists, but I’m not here to discuss the serial comma today. I want to talk about using commas with and and but to separate independent clauses.
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Why I started using Grammarly
I used to cry out against Grammarly and similar “proofreading” software. I argued that these programs were no substitute for proper editing. While I still support that assertion, I’ve come around on Grammarly and now incorporate it into my editing work.
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How to use myself and other reflexive pronouns
Authors often misuse reflexive pronouns like myself, yourself, and itself. Usually, they use them interchangeably with I, me, you, it, etc. (maybe because they sound fancier). In this post, I’ll define reflexives and discuss how to use myself and other similar words in a grammatically correct way.
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