By Valerie Routhieaux
Day Seven – Grammar
Yesterday, I posted about editing, leaning more towards what to leave and what to take out of your manuscript, with a little about passive and active voice. I will continue with editing today, with the emphasis on grammar and punctuation.
If there was ever an area that needed more help than any other, it’s punctuation. You know what I mean. Where and when do you use the comma and the semicolon? From what I’ve noticed, the semicolon is the most unused of all punctuation. It has its moments, but they are few. Use a semicolon between two main clauses not linked by and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet. (Harbrace College Handbook page 152).
Do not use the comma to separate the subject from its verb or the verb from its subject. (Harbrace College Handbook page 147) With those definitions, it should be easy to determine where to put the comma or the semicolon.
One thing I’ve been grateful for is Microsoft Word. It helped me with my punctuation and grammar in the early stages of editing my work. It might seem annoying, but those red underlines were useful, and I learned a lot about comma placement.
Do I get it right every time? No. I need to rely on the editing tools at my disposal, and the book cited above is an excellent resource for everything punctuation and grammar.
Another aspect of editing is grammar. As the publishing world advanced, so too did the area of grammar, particularly with voice or point of view (POV).
In many earlier manuscripts and bestselling books, you see a universal POV. You know what everyone is thinking. One book that comes to mind is Heidi. You know what every character thinks. That can get complicated and messy. It also leaves you wondering who is talking in a particular scene.
One common mistake is getting the POV cluttered with too many voices in one scene, where you should have only one. You know who is in charge of the dialogue because you also hear the person’s thoughts. You should have no more than two main POVs in a book. Three is acceptable, but no more than that.
It’s easy to get both POVs mixed up in a scene. You need to determine which character you’re focusing on in that scene and use only that POV. When you change POV add a line space to alert the reader for the change of POV.
If you’ve noticed the line space but didn’t know why, that’s the reason, a change in POV. We also use the line space for change in time whether it’s a few hours or days.
Good grammar is more than POV. It’s also an active voice versus passive voice. Examples of passive voice are: is, was, are, were, to be, has been. Eliminating those words from your text, causes your text to go from passive to active.
When you change passive to active, you create a document easy to read. I put this post against both Grammarly and Prowritingaid to give you a good example of good grammar, punctuation, and POV in editing.
If you have anything to add, I appreciate your comments on the subject of editing. It’s always good to learn more from your given vocation.
Tomorrow’s perspective: Revisions