Setup of manuscript for editing:
a) Use the serial comma.
For example, write “I had bacon, eggs, and toast for breakfast,” not “I had bacon, eggs and toast for breakfast.”
b) Commas should set off names in direct address:
“But, Laura, I don’t understand!”
A participle is said to dangle when it is not grammatically related to whatever you intend it to modify. This is most common in but not limited to opening adjective participial phrases.
Incorrect: Driving to the store, Sarah’s tire blew out.
Correct: While Sarah was driving to the store, her tire blew out.
Incorrect: Though only fifteen, the university accepted Jen’s application.
Correct: Though Jen was only fifteen, the university accepted her application.
a) Use ellipses to indicate incomplete sentences or a speaker’s voice trailing off.
b) Use ellipses when presenting one side of a telephone conversation:
“Yes?...I see...I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
c) Always use three-point, unspaced ellipses.
d) Capitalize the first word in a complete sentence after ellipses.
Use an em dash (formed by typing two hyphens, then “Enter”) to indicate breaks in dialogue and to indicate when one character interrupts another’s speech. No spaces should appear before or after em dashes.
Refer to Merriam-Webster’s and Chicago for compound words.
a) Colors: do not hyphenate adjectives when they modify a color before a noun:
light blue eyes; dark brown hair; bluish green eyes, but blue-green eyes
b) Do not hyphenate –ly adverb/adjective combinations before nouns:
a highly prized commodity
c) Spaces should not appear before or after hyphens.
a) Use sparingly to indicate emphasis; do not use bold or uppercase.
b) Do not use with foreign words that are commonly used in English. Italicize foreign words that are not commonly used in English. (Refer to Merriam-Webster’s 11th edition, if necessary)
c) Use to indicate internal monologue.
d) Use for unfamiliar foreign phrases and words. If used often in ms, italicize only its first occurrence. If used rarely in ms, italicize each occurrence.
e) Use to indicate the name of a book, periodical, newspaper, play, movie, television program, music CD/album/video, and radio program. Use quotation marks to indicate a short story, poem, or single episode in a television series.
f) Titles of long musical works such as operas require italics. Use quotation marks for songs.
g) Italicize titles of paintings, drawings, statues, cartoons, and comic strips. Titles of photos are enclosed in quotation marks.
h) Do not italicize the names of scriptures and other highly revered works, such as the Bible.
i) Do italicize the names of specific ships and other vessels, such as Apollo II.
a) Spell out numbers from zero to one hundred.
b) Spell out numbers in dialogue unless they’re very large or have decimals.
a) The possessive forms of words ending in sibilants are formed as follows:
Texas’s; Rogers’s; the Rogerses’ (try to avoid this form wherever possible)
b) The possessive ending of an italicized proper name is set in roman:
a) The subjunctive is used when there is no possibility of a statement being true:
I wish I were in Prague. If I were you, I would do that differently.
But: If I was rude, I apologize.
b) Do not use the subjunctive after if meaning whether:
She looked out the window to see if it was cloudy.
But: Treat this china as if it were your own.
The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition.
Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition.
Avoid extraneous details. First ask yourself, how is this detail, sentence, paragraph, or scene important to the emotional framework of my novel OR how does it advance the plot. If it’s not crucial, delete it or shorten it drastically. If it is a significant emotional moment, make sure that the feelings that you want to convey don’t get clouded by the surrounding details.
Always focus on emotions, especially in a romance. Ask yourself how you would feel in a similar situation or how the character feels, and convey that to your reader.
In erotica, there are no rules regarding language or plot with the exception of no nonconsensual sex, sex with children, or abusive emotional or sexual interactions.
Can be used to make your sentences glide, but don’t overuse them. They can be very useful in sex scenes to create a sense of flow.
Can be used, along with narrative insights, to draw the reader into your character’s world. Let the reader be privy to the character’s feelings and thoughts with this method. These thoughts should be in the first person, present tense, and are indicated with italics. These are potent tools and if used too often can disrupt the flow of the narrative.
Can be used, along with internal monologue, to draw the reader into your character’s world. Let the reader be privy to the character’s feelings and thoughts with this method. These thoughts should be in the narrative voice and should not be italicized.
a) Avoid using identifying phrases such as “the older woman,” “the raven-haired woman,” “the tall woman,” etc. to refer to any of your characters. These tags are sometimes depersonalizing and almost always unnecessary. Instead, use the character’s name or the appropriate pronoun. Occasionally “the other woman” or “lover” can be substituted.
b) Once characters establish a physically or emotionally intimate bond, they are no longer “friends.” This appellation tends to trivialize the sexual nature of lesbian love.
Sexual euphemisms or trite references:
Should be avoided when referring to body parts.
a) A clitoris is not a “nubbin” or a “love button” or a “nub.” Likewise, it rarely grows up to be a flower or a tree, so “bud” is out, too.
b) A vagina (usually too clinical) is not a “love tunnel.” The action, such as “entered her” or “took her inside” or “urged her inside” or “slipped inside,” etc. can often substitute.
c) Clitoris, labia, lips, pubis, center, crotch (especially in erotica), buttocks, hips, butt, ass are all fine; try to stick with them. “Mound” is okay in a pinch but never “love mound” or “netherlips” please.
d) Breasts are not “orbs” (actually, neither are eyes).
She was a blonde.
She had blond hair.
Double-check the proper spelling of any trademark and famous name. Check the spelling of any brand name or any famous person you reference. It's not Ozzy Ozboure or Ebay or Levis, and it's a simple matter to check them.
What confuses everyone is that “ lay ” is the present tense of the verb “to lay” AND the simple past tense of a different verb: “to lie”.
A good way to figure out when to use “to lie” and when to use the other verb, “to lay” is this:
If you could replace the verb with “put” , the right verb is probably “to lay”. If using “put” would not make sense, then you probably need “to lie”. Here’s an example in the present tense:
I lie on my bed when I’m tired (correct)
I lay on my bed when I’m tired (incorrect)
If “lie” were replaced with “put” that would not make sense, so the right choice of verb is “to lie” not “to lay”
BUT: if you are using the simple past tense:
I lay on my bed when I was tired (correct)
I laid on my bed when I was tired (incorrect)
Why? Because “lay” is the simple past tense of the verb: “to lie”
LET’S LOOK AT THE VERB: “TO LAY”
You could replace “lay” and “laid” with “put” in these present and simple past sentences and they would still make sense, therefore the correct verb is: “to lay” (and the past tense of this verb is “laid” )
I lay my puppy on my bed when he is tired
I laid my puppy on my bed when he became tired
|PRESENT||SIMPLE PAST||PAST CONTINUOUS||+ PAST PARTICIPLE|
To lie(meaning on a bed etc)
|To lie (meaning tell a lie)||
|To lay (or “put” )||
PRESENT: I lie on the bed when I’m tired. Janice lies with me.
SIMPLE PAST: I lay on the bed because I was tired. Janice lay with me.
CONTINUOUS: I normally hate lying on the bed, but I make an exception when Janice is there.
PRESENT: I lay my puppy down on the bed whenever he gets tired. Janice lays her kitten next to him.
SIMPLE PAST: I laid my puppy down on the bed because he got tired. Janice laid her kitten next to him.
CONTINUOUS: The hen was laying eggs all through summer.
to lie ie. tell a lie
PRESENT: I never lie about my lovers behind their backs.
SIMPLE PAST: But I lied when Katy’s mother asked if we had plans to come for Thanksgiving.
+ PAST PARTICIPLE: It was not the first time I had lied to cover her ass.
CONTINUOUS: I hate lying, normally, but I make an exception for Katy’s mother.