Sunday, June 12, 2011

Deviating from the tense of majority since 1999

With the exception of 11pm to midnight yesterday, I spent all day thinking about other people's writing. (During the last hour I thought about my own.) In addition to a morning class and a meeting in the afternoon, I volunteered to help edit a private anthology.

It was a great experience, but time consuming. I spent two hours on Friday and five hours on Saturday tracking changes in Word. Reminded me of all those years I spent as a Technical Writer, marking up documents. Fewer bullet points in fiction though.

What did I learn? It's a good idea for everyone to brush up on their comma usage, myself included. Commas were the number one issue in the draft, particularly commas around dialogue tags and between multiple adjectives preceding a noun. For example: "This is a sentence." She said. (Incorrect.) "This is a sentence," she said. (Correct)

Deviating from the tense of majority (ha, sounds like a heinous crime) was the second biggest issue. For example, if you start in past tense, you need to stay that way. You generally shouldn't write, "He leaned against the fence. He walks to the street."

Mostly I was line editing, but I did throw in a few suggestions to improve flow or word choice. In the improvement context, the third issue was a lack of clarity around pronouns. You should generally only use "he" or "she" when it's clear who is the subject.

Okay, so I know I make a lot of grammatical mistakes on this blog, and I'm still working out the rules for myself, but these are a few common mistakes we can all work on together.

Cue rainbow shooting across the sky with a star at the end. And can I have a xylophone, what what?


Dan said...

I, for one, enjoy the use of a good comma, possibly too much.

Folly said...

,I, see your comma, and raise you, Dan,,,