Writing Guidelines

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“Wish I’d found you at the start of the series…” 

I’ve recently had the good fortune to proofread ‘The Point of Me’ by Rachel Davidson (which deservedly achieved best seller status very rapidly), and am currently honoured to be copy editing the final book of a rather wonderful series. (I’ll let you know more about this when the author is ready to publish.)

So when the second author emailed me to say, “Wish I’d found you at the start of the series”, believe me when I say it means a lot.

I love my job!

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Words and their meanings: Q-W

Continuing on from the Ps…

Query letter. A letter that is written to literary agents or publishers when an author seeks representation or publishing.

Rejection slip. A letter sent by an agent or publisher in response to your query letter saying no thank you. Frame it. Chalk it up to experience. Try again.

Reprints. Work that is published after having already been published somewhere else.

Rights. Ownership of a work and how it may be used.

Royalties. The percentage of revenues paid to the author by the publisher. Indie authors receive royalties via the channel they use to publish when their work is purchased.

Run-on sentence. A sentence that goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and shouldn’t. If you have one like this, re-write it.

S.A.S.E. (or SAE) Acronym for “self-addressed stamped envelope” and is sometimes asked for by publishers or agents when you submit to them so that they can send your manuscript back to you along with your rejection slip…

Satire. Used as a way of criticizing people in a humorous manner. Not to be confused with irony: hyphenated -v- non-hyphenated…!

Self-publishing. Used by Indie authors. This is where the author uploads their work (hopefully edited and proofread) to a channel that allows them to sell it. Can also be used for POD (see previous post).

Serial. Something published in several parts, one after another. Examples include trilogies or a run on series.

Short story. Fiction that typically has less than 5000 words and is published alongside other material, rather than as a stand-alone.

Simultaneous submissions. Sending a manuscript to multiple publishers or agents at the same time. If you intend doing this, be sure to check each publisher/agent’s submission guidelines. If they ask you not to do this, don’t!

Small press. A small publishing company rather than one of the ‘big 5’. Small presses often specialise in a particular genre (or in very few select genres – check before you submit to them).

Soliloquy. A monologue, usually in a play, where a character talks to the audience or him/herself. Check out ‘Hamlet’ and the ‘To be or not to be’ speech.

Spine. The part of a book that holds the front hardpage and back hardpage (covers) in place. It’s what shows when it’s on your shelf!

Style. The way a writer writes – their choice of words, the structure of sentences and literary devices that are particular to them.

Submission guidelines. Read them! These are the rules you must follow when submitting a manuscript to a publisher.

Subplot. A secondary story that develops within the main story.

Synonym. A word that means the same (or almost the same) as another. E.g. large, big.

Synopsis. A summary of a book’s plot, usually two to three pages long.

Tearsheet. A page torn from a published article that provides proof of publishing.

Theme. The subject of a book.

Thesis. A lengthy piece of writing on a particular subject – usually submitted by university students that shows their key argument and understanding of the subject.

Tone. The mood implied in a piece of writing.

Trim size. The width and height of a book’s pages.

Typeface. The font specifications (see Font).

Vanity publishing. A service that asks authors to pay to have their books published.

Verb. A ‘doing’ word that describes an action, condition or experience (walked, swam, touched, etc).

Voice. Every author has their own. This is the way that the author conveys his/her message shown in the style of the writing.

White space. The area of a page that holds no text or images.

Word count. The number of words in a manuscript.

Writer. The person who wrote the work, usually the author, but can be a ghostwriter.

That’s it folks – hope you didn’t mind the tongue-in-cheek additions!

If you’ve found this useful, feel free to contact me with any editing or proofreading requirements you have.

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We are currently very busy (which is great news for us!) but it does mean that if you would like anything proofed or copy-edited you’ll need to let us know as soon as possible in order to avoid disappointment.

Words you need to know when writing (and their meanings) N-P

Here are the next lot for you! N-P

Narrative. This is how you explain the events of your story; a description of a series of events that form the story.

Narrator. The character who tells you what is happening in a story, book or film. (In my opinion, ‘The Book Thief’ by Markus Zusak, does this beautifully.)

Noun. Denotes a person, animal, place, thing, event, substance or quality.

Novel. A fiction book with over 40,000 words.

Novella. A fiction book with under 40,000 words.

Outline. Where an author plots out what they want to happen in their book. Can be used as a table of contents. Good for those who like to be organized in their writing. (If you hear the question, are you a ‘plotter’ or a ‘pantser’, this is what it refers to. ‘Pantsers’ sit and write the story without an outline.)

Paperback. A physical copy of a book that has a soft cover rather than a hard cover (see Hardback).

Parody. The writer copies someone or something’s style (generally from a serious piece of work or an event) and deliberately exaggerates it for comedic effect. (The Scream films are an example.)

Passive voice. When the verb focuses on what is being done to the object of the sentence. (He was eaten by the lion.)

Personification. Human traits that are assigned to an animal or inanimate object. Think cat memes…

Pitch. When it all gets serious. This is what you do when you are trying to obtain an agent or editor. For a book, this is typically a query letter with a synopsis.

Plagiarism. Copying and using someone else’s words without permission. Don’t do it.

Plot. Simply put, your plot is your story.

Point of view. (POV) The perspective through which a story unfolds through a particular character’s eyes. Can be first or third person. (‘I felt’ as opposed to ‘Tom felt’.)

Premise. The idea on which you based your story.

Print On Demand (POD). The process of printing books as they are ordered. Used by the majority of indie authors.

Print run. The number of books (or newspapers/magazines) that are printed at one time.

Pronoun. Used instead of a noun or a noun phrase. (He, she, it, who. They refer to a noun that has already been mentioned. Example: The cat (noun) sat on the mat. It (pronoun) stared at me.

Proofreading. Checks spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar and related items, but does not check style or structure.

Protagonist. The main character in your story. The reader should identify with them.

Pseudonym. A pen name that an author uses if they do not want to use their real name.

Public domain. Anything in the public domain is not protected by copyright.

Words you need to know when writing H-M

Words to know when you’re a writer: H to M

Here are the next lot of word meanings:

-H-

Hard copy. A printed version on paper of written projects, emails etc.

Hardcover. Also known as hardback; a physical book that is bound and printed – see paperback.

Half title. The page at the beginning of a book that contains the title and nothing else.

Historical Fiction. A fictional story set in the past. If you write in this genre, make sure you don’t inadvertently put in something current – there were no mobile phones in Victorian times…

Hook. The thing we all struggle over – that one line that entices (hooks) the reader into the book from the get go!

House style. A publisher’s preferred style.

-I-

ISBN. Stands for International Standard Book Number. This is a unique number and it identifies each published book.

-J-

Journalist. Someone who writes for newspapers, magazines, news websites, or a person who prepares news that is to be broadcast.

-K-

Kill fee. Payment made to a writer if an article is written, but not published.

-L-

Lead paragraph. The hook – your first paragraph of your book, article or chapter.

Literary agent. Someone who has faith in your writing and will represent you (the author) to publishers.

-M-

Manuscript. An original copy of your book or article before printing.

Mark up. Used during editing – notes made on a manuscript that is not yet ready for printing. In Word, this is done via ‘Tracking’.

Memoir. Writing that is based on a writer’s personal knowledge of somebody else (usually famous – think kiss and tell!) or an event or a place.

Mood. The tone or feeling the writer is trying to convey in the story. (Not to be confused with your own emotions when you’re having a bad day and the words won’t come…)

Words you need to know when writing (and their meanings) D-G

For A-C please see previous posts.

-D-

Denouement. The end of your story where everything comes together.

Dialogue. Words spoken by characters.

Draft. Your first, unedited, unchecked, version of a piece of writing.

-E-

eBook. A book that is published electronically (usually read on an eReader).

Edit. To make changes to written work to make it ready for publication. Don’t do it yourself – you’ll miss things.

Editor. The person who edits written work. Hire one!

Editorial. An article that expresses the editor’s opinion (generally in a newspaper in regard to current trends/news).

Endnote. Found at the end of a book, this is an explanation of a point/points within the work.

eReader. Device for reading eBooks.

-F-

Fair use. The right to use a small piece of a work (usually less than 10%) for educational or illustrative purposes. Attributable, and must not infringe copyright.

First rights. A publisher may ask for this – it gives them the right to publish first but does not preclude others from publishing at a later date.

Font. Different forms of typeface (e.g. Times New Roman, Calibri, etc). Use of different fonts alters the appearance of written work. When submitting to an agent/publisher, check their font requirements (if any) and make sure you submit using what they want.

Footnote. Placed at the bottom of a page as an explanation of a point within that page.

Format. How a manuscript is laid out. Includes font, spacing, margins, and indentations.

Front matter. These are the pages at the beginning of a book, for example, the title page, table of contents, etc.

-G-

Genre. The type of book written. Examples are fantasy, romance, horror etc.

Ghostwriter. Is hired by someone to write for them. The ghostwriter remains anonymous and the hirer receives credit for the completed work.

Alphabetical List of Meanings when Writing B – C

Back matter. The pages at the end of a book.

Back matter. The pages at the end of a book. (Bibliography, acknowledgements, links, etc.)

Backlist. Previously written books that are still in print.

Backstory. Gives an idea of what has happened before the events of the main story – a brief history of characters or events – sometimes written as character memories or flashbacks. Be aware that giving too much backstory can take away from the main story – so less is more.

Beta readers. Authors send their work to beta readers for feedback before publishing. These are usually the second port of call for a check on their work, the first being to an alpha reader.

Bibliography. The place to give credit to the people/books/articles which gave you your answers in your research for your own book or article.

Biography. The life story of someone that is written by someone else.

Blurb. A short description of a book intended to ‘hook’ a reader into buying it.

Boilerplate. Cliched or predictable writing.

Byline. Where you are credited as the author of an article. (Newspaper/magazine articles.)

Citation. A piece of information taken from a written work. (Usually attributable in the bibliography.)

Climax. The high point of your story.

Clips. Samples of a published writer’s work .

Copy editing. Editing (checking) text for errors in spelling, grammar, and consistency.

Copyright. The legal right of ownership of your work.