Tag Archive | proofreading

random searches on the internet occasionally help me find very random treasures

So I was doing a Swagbucks search in hopes of earning a few quick cents on writing advice and I found Jeffery A. Carver’s advice to aspiring authors. To be quote honest, I don’t know who this guy is. I’ve never heard of him. That being said, normally I find this interesting. I don’t know why. I suppose I like to see what other people think.

So I’m reading through and he gives the typical advice, in fact, some advice that I have given you as well. Read constantly, write constantly, pursue experience (Haven’t said that actually), write what you want, ect.

How, there were two very interesting things that I would like to point out that he said. The first thing is that if you are not driving by some passion to write, then you probably not cut out to be a professional writer. This isn’t just Carver saying this either. Take these people for example.

A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.  ~Thomas Mann, Essays of Three Decades, 1947

But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.  ~Colette, Casual Chance, 1964

Having imagination, it takes you an hour to write a paragraph that, if you were unimaginative, would take you only a minute.  Or you might not write the paragraph at all.  ~Franklin P. Adams, Half a Loaf, 1927

Life can’t ever really defeat a writer who is in love with writing, for life itself is a writer’s lover until death – fascinating, cruel, lavish, warm, cold, treacherous, constant.  ~Edna Ferber, A Kind of Magic, 1963

Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.  One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.  ~George Orwell, “Why I Write,” 1947  (Thanks, Jennifer)

Writing is very hard. I know this. I have so many manuscripts from when I didn’t realize how hard writing actually was.

However, another thing that he said:

If your work is of publishable quality, sooner or later it will sell. Probably. There are no guarantees, of course. I’ve got some pieces of my own in the trunk that I thought would sell, but didn’t. But that’s what keeps us going–the belief that what we are doing is worth i

For all of us out there who wants to be published. This sounds great. However, he adds that people often THINK their work is of good, publishable quality, when, in fact, it is not.

Part of this is the maturing of a writer. I thought what I wrote when I was fifteen was great. Like, the next best thing that everyone would love and be stunned by. (Now, I’m not so proud / daydreamerish, although I do wish that was that case sometimes.) As you continue writing, your writing improves, and then slowly you start understanding more, analyzing more, and just being a better writer in general.

I posted a long time ago about how do you improve your writing or find writing support groups. And I got an answer, I talked with my, well, technical boss but she’s also an English teacher, but nothing really developed to help me.

However, I found yesterday not just one, but several writing critiquing groups on the internet for free. See, I’ve always thought that they cost money.  I joined one a while ago, but I had such a hard time figuring out things, figuring out if I can respond, and things like that that I just didn’t like it and I was so nervous.  But now, not only does it not cost money, but it solves a lot of my previous problems.

So, this is the link to the all of the writing workshop. Obviously, since I’m a science fiction writer, I have no problems with the links of SFWA  but for those of you who aren’t, well, that might prove a problem with some of them. Then, I actually decided to join Critters Workshop because it just looks like what I need. I’ll tell you all how it goes whenever I get signed up. It’ll take a day or so they claim and then a couple more weeks, but if it is as good as I hope, well, it’ll be nice, especially with summer coming. Update: I got signed up for it all within a few hours.

words–be gone!

If only banish words from your writing was that easy. The fact is that it takes a lot of a time and effort and careful writing to properly banish words.

Wait! Why would I want to ban words from my writing? Aren’t all words good?


See, some words are perfectly fine to use often. Said is actually one of these words. The word said is generally invisible to readers, especially once readers get involved in your story. If you don’t believe me, watch yourself next time you read. I skip over that word, using it merely to reestablish who is speaking.

However, there are some words that writers tend to use constantly in their writing and you really don’t want that. The word becomes overused and stale and just doesn’t hold the same umph that you want it to.

Well, that sounds easy. What’s the word?

Good question. There isn’t just one word that I can say that everyone overuses. Worse, it isn’t just one word usually. To make it even hardly, once you start controlling one word from your writing, another overly-used word will crop up and then you’ll have to delete that word and it will continue in very much a circular pattern.

So what I am to possible do?

1) Be aware of this when you edit your writing. If you realize that we tend to use words over and over again, you’ll be more likely to notice yourself doing this when you edit it.

2) Figure out how to replace it, or if you need the words in the first place. My current favorite words is just. He just needed to do this. He just didn’t like her. He just wished that the rain would stop. I don’t need it. But, remember that if you merely replacing the words with something else, say, I replace just with only, then only becomes my new banned word and I’m no better off.

3) Create a list somewhere of these banned words. This can be a mental list even, but for physical people, physical lists might be a good idea. And just because a word is banned for you doesn’t mean you can never use it. You do want to evaluate every single time you use it through to see if you really, really, really need to.

4) If you really want to banish a word, and  you don’t see that word in your writing, I would advise doing a find and replace all. I did this once when I was told that I had too many wases/weres in my writing. I replaced all wases with 12345667890 and all weres with 0987654321. This made these words obvious to me, but for areas like dialog, that I don’t want to change, I can do a change all and replace them back.

5) You’ll have to be on you guard at all times. Words are sneaky and want to be used. Be on guard for another word slipping into your writing, because it probably will happen.

This sounds really hard. I don’t know if I want to do all that editing.

Well, in that case it’s your choice, but no one ever said that writing is easy. in fact, the general agreement is that writing is one of the most challenging things to understand. So happy writing.

Question of the Week due tomorrow night. No answers mean you get to only hear my opinion still.

please know the following terms: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, sentences

I have been writing for almost eight years now, I’ve taken an English class at school (and did well enough that the teacher recommended that I apply for a tutoring job) and I have worked at the writing center editing students’ papers for a whole semester. So I have some clue about grammar.

The fact is that you don’t need to know everything in grammar. Who cares what a complex-complete sentence or a past perfect verb is?  (Well, I do, but I don’t know off the top of my head. And honestly, very few people who came to me at the writing center cared to know either.)

However, there are some basic parts of grammar that you need to know in order to edit your paper.

Nouns: Simply, an noun is any visible object. A name is also a noun (properly called a noun of direct address). However, nouns can also be things like virtues and emotions. Nouns are what do the action in the sentance.

Two things to understand with nouns. Although not always, nouns can either function as subjects or objects in a basic sentence. In general, subjects come before the verb and objects come after the verb. (They also function quite commonly as objects of the preposition, but, because I don’t think you need to know what a preposition is, I won’t go there.)

Verbs: Verbs, simply, are action words, like jump, type, listen, talk, said. Other verbs, called passive verbs, are words like was, were, has, had, ect. A passive word means the action was not done by the subject. (“My comb was broken,” vs. “Someone broke my comb.”) Whenever I mention avoid passive words, I particularly mean you should delete “was/were” from your writing.

Verbs and nouns are the basic building blocks of sentences.

Adjective: Adjectives modify or describe nouns. Take a noun–girl–and put an adjective on it–tall girl, short girl, fat girl, skinny girl. Adjectives almost always go before the noun. Sometimes adjectives will come after the noun in a prepositional phrase, such as, dashboard of the car. These should be changed to read “car’s dashboard.”

Adverbs: The difference between adjectives and adverbs is that adjectives describe nouns while adverbs describe verbs. So if we take a verb–typed–and put an adverb on it–typed quickly.  in general, the way to recognize an adverb is if it ends in -LY. Also, adverbs, unlike adjectives, can be found in a variety of locations, from the beginning to the end of a sentence. Examples:

Quickly, she ran to the store.

She quickly ran to the store.

She ran quickly to the store.

She ran to the store quickly.

Although adverbs can go anywhere, as seen above, most people agree that adverbs are better the closer they are to the verb.

Conjunction: These combine two similar thoughts or phrases together to form one unit. Coordinating conjunctions are simple:  For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So.  However, there are also subordinating conjunctions, which are much more common as you shall soon see.

Now, let’s put this all together. In order to be a reasonable proofreader, you need to be able to recognize a complete sentence.

Sentences: In a sentence, you need a noun and a verb. If you have more than one of either of those, you need a conjunction, a semi colon or a period. Confusing? Yeah, probably. Just hang with me.

You can have something called a very simple sentence  which is five words long at most. An example would be:

She ate the cake.

She (noun, subject) ate (verb) the cake (noun, object)

Or you can have a very long sentence.

Sue ate the cake and Bob drank the soda while they walked to the park.

Sue (noun, subject) ate (verb) the cake (noun, object) and (conjunction) Bob (noun, subject) drank (verb) the soda (noun, object) while (conjunction) they (noun, subject) walked (verb) to the park (noun, either subject nor object. It’s actually an object of the proposition, like I mentioned earlier. To can be an preposition.)

Why is this important? Because say I have a sentence:

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog, he ran across the field too.

You think it might look right but just to be on the safe side, you decide to check it.

The quick (adjective) brown (adjective) fox (noun, subject) jumped (verb) over the lazy (adjective) dog, (noun) he (noun, subject) ran (verb) across the field (noun) too.

When you analyze it like that, you find that you actually have two subjects, two verbs and no conjunction. You need to place a conjunction in the sentence, or a period, and make it two separate sentences or else you have a comma splice. (Two sentences joined with a comma.)

The other reason why you need to know these parts of speech is because once you realize that one word is an adjective, if you decide that you don’t like that particular adjective, you can replace it with any other adjective found in the dictionary.  It’s very much like the mad lib idea. But, you can’t replace one type of word for another type of word.

So now perhaps you understand not only why your teacher cared so much about nouns and verbs but how to use them while writing.