Monday, October 1, 2012

Style Manual 4RV Way - Part 2

by Vivian Zabel  

Continued from Friday post, September 28:

Paragraphs and indention
             Use tab to indent. Do NOT use space bar to space over for indention.
             Use a separate paragraph for each time a different person has dialogue.
             Have only one topic per paragraph. Avoid long rambling paragraphs whenever possible.
Point of View
         There are only three points of view: First person; Second person; and Third person (which has two
              sub-divisions - limited and omniscient) 
                First person: The narrator tells the story, can only report what he hears or sees personally unless
                      someone else tells him something that happens when he isn't present.
                Second person: Used for instructions or directions since the reader is involved. Seldom used in fiction or
                       nonfiction successfully,
not wanted used for 4RV.
                Third person: The narrator sees and hears and knows what is happening, although he is not a part of the
                 Limited: The narrator can only know what one character feels or knows, reports from that character's
                 Omniscient: The narrator can see, hear, know what more than one character feels or knows. The
                        narrator sees all and knows all from more than one character's perspective. Good use of
                        omniscient doesn't confuse the reader by jumping between characters too quickly, only changes
                        perspectives between scenes or chapters. Never should have more than one perspective in a single
Quotation marks and punctuation 
always use “curly” quotes, not straight
             In dialogue, all punctuation goes inside the end quotation marks, if part of the dialogue.
             If the phrase, clause, or words inside the quotation marks is not dialogue, commas and periods go inside
                 end quotation marks. Question marks and exclamation marks go outside the end quotation IF not part
                 of material quoted.
Incorrect:         “I’m not sure”, John replied. “Maybe you should ask Mary”.
Correct:            “I’m not sure,” John replied. “Maybe you should ask Mary.”
            Incorrect:         John turned to Tim. “Did you say, ‘I’m not going?’” or “Did you say, ‘I’m not going’”?
            Correct:            John turned to Tim. “Did you say, “I’m not going’?”
Incorrect:         My favorite short story is “Hidden Lies”.
            Correct:            My favorite short story is “Hidden Lies.”
Incorrect:         Mary yelled, “Get away from me”!
Correct:            Mary yelled, “Get away from me!”

            A long quotation, not dialog:  The quoted material, when more than two lines, should be a block with each
                       line indented from both sides, but no quotation marks used. Example:

                    Maria Jones, “Writing the Watson Way,” gave the following information to writers:
Tom Watson was one of the best authors of all times found in the British
                        Empire.  He believed that all writers were responsible for making readers
                        a part of the action and for them to feel as if they are included.

            Quotation punctuation:  Commas and periods go inside a final double or single quotation mark.
                    Question marks and exclamation marks go inside the final quotation marks IF part of the dialog.
                    Question marks and exclamation marks go outside the final quotation marks if NOT part of the

                                 Incorrect: Mark asked, “Did John say, ‘I’m not part of that’”
                                                    Correct: Mark asked, “Did John say, ‘I’m not part of that’?”
Incorrect: “That’s not correct”, Mark said.
                                Correct:  “That’s not correct,” Mark said.                

              Quotation marks
are used around the titles of articles, short stories, and one-act plays when those are used
                        in a
sentence or paragraph. Quotations are not used when the titles are at the top of a work.
Spelling and Grammar 
U.S. spelling rules will be used, and U.S. grammar, punctuation, and structure usage.
            Remember, authors and editors, helping authors improve their writing does not change their voice. Good writing is good writing, but sometimes it needs help to be the best it can be. Editors should give suggestions and show where there are problems in a manuscript, but authors need to do the revising and fix any problem areas, should do any actual rewriting or revising. If the suggestions are not what the author prefers, he/she needs to find a way to revise in his/her way, but the problem or problem areas MUST be repaired.
Writing Tips      
            Indent every paragraph, using the tab. Do not leave extra blank lines between paragraphs unless the scene changes or time passes. Then leave three (3) blank lines between the paragraph at the end of the previous scene or time period and the first paragraph starting the next scene or time period.
            Avoid using second person except for directions or in dialog.
            Italics: Thoughts of characters are to be italicized.
                        Title of books, magazines, newspapers, movies, and full length plays, when used in a sentence or
                              paragraph are italicized. Those titles when used as the title at the top of a work are not.

            Show, don’t tell:
Use action verbs and active voice to allow the reader to “see” what is happening. Long
                               boring descriptions and background shouldn’t be written in long, detailed paragraphs, but
                               scatter throughout to hold the attention of readers and not bore them.   

            Avoid using passive voice unless absolutely necessary, and then seldom.     
            Time references:  Use AM and PM, all capitals and no periods, when needed.
Using references such as I want you here by 3:10 PM, no excuses, is fine. But I want you back
                             home in three hours or by three o’clock this afternoon, not three o'clock AM or PM.

Write Tight Tips
             “Write tight, delete unnecessary words and phrases.”  Let’s look at the words and phrases which, if we eliminate them, will tighten our writing.
              Note: to discover these in something already written, use the “Find” application under Edit in your word processing program.

 Down: A verb that implies down doesn’t require the use of the word.
            The boy fell down.
            The boy fell.

 Up: A verb that implies up doesn’t require the use of the word.
            The bird flew up to the tree branch..
            The bird flew to the tree branch.

 Out: If the verb implies out, using the word is not necessary.
            She spread the bedspread out across the bed.
She spread the bedspread across the bed.

Then: If action follows, the word then is implied already.
            He aimed the gun, then fired.
He aimed the gun and fired.

 Began – started:
            He picked up the book and began to read.
            He picked up the book and read.
He lifted the pen and started to write.
He lifted the pen and wrote.

 Felt – feel: Weak words should be replaced to created a stronger, clearer image.
            The chill of the night air had little to do with the cold she felt.
The chill of the night air had little to do with the cold swirling inside her.

 Back:  If the subject of a sentence is doing one thing and then another, back is usually unneeded.
            Jessie shook her head as she frowned back at her friend.
Jessie shook her head as she frowned at her friend.

 Back – returned: Sometimes “returned” signals going back to a previous action.
            He turned his attention back to the raging storm.
He returned his attention to the raging storm.

 Instead: If it’s a given that some action would occur, then “instead” is not needed.
            If he misses the chair, he will land on the floor instead of the chair.
He will land on the floor.

To the:  Using the phrase often causes wordiness.
            She opened the door to the office.
She opened the office door.

Suddenly: If  the next action follow, writing as the next action eliminates the need for the word.
            Suddenly the bull lurched forward.
The bull lurched forward.
            Suddenly the boy yelled.
The boy yelled.

or    Without warning, the boy yelled.

 Be-ing:  Sometimes using the present participle of verbs causes longer and weaker sentences.
            I should be writing her.
I should write her.

Could: If the sentence conveys information without the word, don’t use.
                  He could see her walking toward him.
He saw her walking toward him.

better    She walked toward him.

Would: Decide if the sentence with the word is stronger or the one without.
            Occasionally, he would catch her watching him.
Occasionally, he caught her watching him.    

There: Generally using there results in a weak sentence, and it should be removed if possible.
            There were men too close.
Men were too close. 
Even better would be using an action verb: Men stood too close.
If there were men that close, they would clog any escape.
If men were that close, they would clog any escape.

 Seemed: The word seemed should only be used when creating doubt.
            Harry’s presence seemed to dominate the camp.
Harry’s presence dominated the camp.

Was and other linking or to be verbs: Sentences are stronger when strong action verbs are used. Of course at times,
        linking and to be verbs must be used.

            His only fear was the dark.
He only feared the dark.

To be:  The phrase results in wordiness.
            She needs to be doing her homework.
She needs to do her homework.

That: Sometimes that is necessary, but often is isn’t. Try the sentence without it and see if the meaning changes                              or not.
The reason that we …
The reason we …

Just: Just is an overused word. We need to try synonyms like merely, only, nearly, or don't use anything, just

Avoid passive voice – use active voice: Passive voice does not show action by the subject, uses state of being verbs
(was, were, am, are, etc.) as the main verb or helping verb, or uses have, had, has as a helping verb.
           When possible, replace  with action verbs. Also passive voice has the subject not doing the acting, but
                  receiving the action.  Avoid state of being verbs when possible. Show, don’t tell.

            The ball was thrown by the boy.
The boy threw the ball.

Beginning sentences with it, this, that, there: It must refer to a noun used closely before the pronoun, with no other nouns between them (or unclear pronoun reference). The other words shouldn't begin a sentence unless they are used as adjectives before a subject. Using these words correctly results in stronger writing.

(NOTE: A special thanks to Margot Finke’s "Secrets of Writing for Children" and the comments on her forum for the Muse Conference for a portion of the previous tips.)
            In other words, authors need to cut anything that does not add to the story, plot, characters, and/or conflict. Extra words and/or phrases, passive voice, or long, unnecessary descriptions weaken writing. We all need to write tight and write right.

REPEAT: Use Strong Action Verbs and Active Voice – Part of Show, Don’t Tell
          Avoid using passive voice as much as humanly possible (using had or have or has as a helping verb equals
                   passive voice).
             Example: Jerry had stolen the book off the desk. – passive voice
             Correct:   Jerry stole the book off the desk. – active voice

            Avoid using state of being verbs except for absolutely necessary (is, are, was, were, am, be, being, been),
                     even avoid using as a helping verb.
                        Example: Jerry is known for stealing everything he can. – state of being helping verb
               Correct:   Most people know Jerry steals everything he can. – rewritten to avoid state of being verb
NOTE: when to use capitalized common nouns
            When a common noun (such as dad, mother, momma) is used as a name, it is capitalized. When a possessive pronoun or noun comes before the common noun, it is never capitalized. Usually common nouns are not capitalized unless it is the first word in a sentence, except used in place of a name.
                   Incorrect: Tilly told her Mother she would be home soon.
                   Correct: Tilly told her mother she would be home soon.
                   Incorrect: Tilly said mother told us to be home soon.
                   Correct: Tilly said Mother told us to be home soon.

           Authors and editors, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of strong writing. I will refuse something quicker for telling when showing is the stronger writing  than for most any other reason.

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