This is the first issue of our Grammar School Newsletter, designed to give authors quick and easy tips to improve their understanding of grammar. No fluff. No filler. Just straight grammar talk.
In this issue of Grammar School . . .
1→Using the Semicolon
Many authors get semicolons wrong, technically. So, if you’re a stickler for using things correctly, here’s some great advice for you:
Either side of your semicolon should have an independent clause—meaning, it should also work as a short, complete sentence. These two abbreviated sentences typically talk about the same thing/topic and would read a bit monotonous out in the wild on their own.
She didn’t agree; his argument didn’t make sense.
2→To Em-Dash or Not to Em-Dash
Here are the three dashes and how they should be used:
– This is a standard hyphen that’s used for compound words and numbered dates (1-2-13)
– This is an en-dash that’s used for number ranges (5–10 times per month)
— This is an em-dash that’s used to separate text (It’s important to work on your grammar—your readers will thank you for it later.)
The hyphen and the en-dash look similar on a website; however, they will be different sizes in an actual manuscript.
3→Crimes of the Dialogue Tag
Here are some basic dialogue rules to live by:
1. It’s fine to use “said” repeatedly. The only people who notice are picky authors who need something to complain about.
2. You can use a character action in place of a dialogue tag.
3. Each speaking character should get their own paragraph.
4. Smile, laugh, sigh, and breathe are not ways of speaking.
One of the biggest complaints we see in book reviews has to do with proofreading. Not going through this important step is one of the biggest reasons you will lose potential loyal fans. (At least, for manuscripts riddled with them.)
5→Breaking the Rules
With all that said, you can take these “rules” with a grain of salt; however, we recommend being picky about the ones you take as gospel and the ones you take for granted.
Happy writing! (And see you next Tuesday!)