Learn Writing with Uncle Jim, Volume 1

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

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Duncan J Macdonald

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I don't see where there would be any confusion. 14'23" S 134'45" W doesn't look like anything but coordinates. If nothing else, the "S" (south) and "W" (west) give that away.
It's like guns. You'll always find a reader who knows enough to figure out where your mistakes are.

Take the coordinates above -- yes, the "S" and "W" give it away, but the numbers themselves don't make sense. Lat and Long are written in degrees, minutes, and seconds of arc. What's written here are just the minutes and seconds part -- and just like time, there are only sixty minutes in a degree, so the West coordinate doesn't make sense - you can't have 134 minutes of arc.

So, to me, this passage would tell me that the author either didn't know what he was saying, or that he was just guessing.

Full Disclosure -- One of my tours of duty in the Navy was as the Navigator on a Fast Frigate (FF), and later I spent a three year tour teaching navigation and piloting.
 

James D. Macdonald

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One of my tours of duty was as Navigator on an FF as well.

More and more these days you see lat and long listed with minutes of arc, and, rather than seconds, decimal minutes. Thus: 20[SUP]o[/SUP] 12.85' N 74[SUP]o[/SUP] 44.36' W.
 

maestrowork

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Also phone numbers. It's silly to write "five five five one eight two five."

Currency. If it's less than $100, I write it out. If not, numbers.

And any numbers that have more meaning as numbers than as texts: dates, secret codes, coordinates, social security numbers, etc.

Addresses are kind of weird. Again, if it is larger than 100, I'd probably just write the number.
 

smsarber

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Maybe until it gets to an even million, or an even hundred thousand? One million seems easier on the eyes than 1,000,000. But writing 134,000 is easier than writing it in words. I guess I should be glad my MC isn't a millionaire.;)
 

James D. Macdonald

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I italicize (and italics are indicated with a single underline, thus).

Use this sparingly. It verges on giving stage directions. If you've written your characters well the readers will know how they'll deliver a line of dialog.
 

smsarber

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Do all agents/publishers still want you to underline italics? I read in a couple different books that is not a standard practice anymore, and up to said agent/publisher. But if I'd be better served to go back and change any italics I will. And I would hate to look like an idiot asking which way they like their italics-- sunny side up, or over easy;)
 

FOTSGreg

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Duncan, Sorry about the coordinate mistakes. I was pulling numbers out of my nether regions just to illustrate the question. In the real work I'd be much more careful about using actual longitude and latitude coordinates.

The grid coordinates are accurate though, coming as they do from an actual grid coordinate system for a network in my universe.
 

Berry

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As long as you're consistent, the publisher will regularize 'em to house style somewhere in the copyediting stage.


And further, if you've written a brilliant, gripping story with compelling characters and a clever plot that everyone wants to read, whether you've formatted your numbers correctly WILL NOT MATTER.

If your story is dull, your plot hackneyed and your characters cardboard, absolutely perfect formatting WILL NOT SAVE IT.
 

James D. Macdonald

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I've never understood why you would underline in fiction?

You would underline in fiction if you intended some word or words to be set in italic.

Uncle Jim,

One more question. Is it:

To comfort the ache
To help you comfort from the ache.

Neither?

I have no idea what you're trying to get across. More context?
 

Rushie

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It's like guns. You'll always find a reader who knows enough to figure out where your mistakes are.

Oh guns are my pet peeve. If you're going to use guns in your fiction, you better become a gun nut yourself, or you will step in it. Buy guns, go to the range and shoot guns, talk to other people about guns, make sure you learn the right language. Nothing annoys me more than seeing the wrong gun terminology in a novel. It's not a "clip", it's a magazine. You don't load "bullets" into it, you load rounds. The only time you're going to have a handful of "bullets" is if you reload your own cartridges. And on and on and on...
 

James D. Macdonald

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Oh, and here's agent Jessica Faust on whether you should write short stories or keep a blog as part of your effort build a platform to sell your novel: http://bookendslitagency.blogspot.com/2009/04/building-platform-for-fiction.html

I’ve received a lot of questions about the importance of building a platform for fiction writers. Should you write platform-building pieces under your real name or the pseudonym you want to use? What if you wrote mystery short stories, but now want to write romance novels? Do those short stories even count toward your platform? Do you need to worry about blogging now to build a platform or should you just write?

Bet you'll never guess what she recommends.
 

smsarber

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Before I even read it I am going out on a limb to say I bet she recomends that it is very helpful to your platform.

Now off to read it.

I was pretty close to right. The blog may not help, but if you are discretionary about what you post in the blog I would say it couldn't hurt.
 
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Calliopenjo

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Sorry about that. The more I think about it the more puzzling it becomes. That's why I'm asking for help. In an attempt to write "To help with the pain" another way so that I'm not repeating the same line ten times over, I'm trying to reconstruct it so that it reads the same way with different words. I looked in the thesaurus and came up with comfort for help and agony for pain.

[FONT=&quot]This is the line I came up with: I will give you a tea to drink first to comfort the agony.

Or would it be: I will give you a tea to drink first to comfort away the feeling of agony.
[/FONT]
 

Berry

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[FONT=&quot]This is the line I came up with: I will give you a tea to drink first to comfort the agony.

Or would it be: I will give you a tea to drink first to comfort away the feeling of agony.
[/FONT]

Hm. I'd say neither. "Comfort" is, I think, a transitive verb whose object is a person. So I'd comfort Calliopenjo by easing the pain, or something similar.

There, "ease the pain" is perfectly good.

That said, what's going on that a character has to say "it will help with the pain" ten times? *THAT* sounds like it may need attention, unless they're working in an ER or field hospital treating casualties.
 

Berry

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Call me stupid, but why not just italics?

It's "Standard Manuscript Format". It was developed back when we all used typewriters and there WERE no italics. It's what editors expect to see from professionals. If you do it that way, the editors who are making the snap decision whether to read your second page or not will at least not stop reading because the manuscript format is something weird.

Call it a convention of the industry.

That said, when the book is printed the text that is underlined in your MS will be in italics in the book.

And as always, check the submission requirements. If they say 24 pt Comic sans in red ink on green 4x6 paper, do it that way. Otherwise use one of the many excellent guides to standard ms format you can find in 20 seconds with Google.
 

Berry

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Oh, and cooeedownunder, I just noticed your book, Australian Flavour, is non-fiction. We're talking about fiction manuscripts here. Non-fiction can be way different. For my non-fiction technical books I submitted near-camera-ready formatted FrameMaker files using templates the publisher supplied.
 
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James D. Macdonald

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Also, the fellows who are typesetting your book know that underlines are set in italics. If you don't underline the italics the copyeditor will have to underline them by hand before the book goes to typesetting. It's easy to miss italics in a manuscript. It's hard to miss underlines.

========

How about "this will make you feel better"?
 
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