Editors spend a lot of time attending to the smallest of details. And though many of us also take care of the bigger stuff—rewriting for clarity, checking facts, formatting for different media, and so on—the little things will always be there, in every document, to keep us busy.
For this month’s quiz we return to the grammar chapter—specifically, paragraphs 5.172–95, which cover prepositions. The main job of prepositions is to set up other words, an important job that usually goes unnoticed (except, maybe, at the end of a sentence).
If you work with words, you’re probably familiar with the related but supposedly antithetical concepts known as prescriptivism and descriptivism. And people take sides. Either you’re a stickler (you’re a prescriptivist) or you go with the flow (you’re a descriptivist).
Do you sometimes dither over whether to put a comma between two or more adjectives? Although the guidelines for deciding in CMOS work well for any kind of writing, there are times when creative writers prefer to ignore them.
This month we return to chapter 5, on grammar—specifically, paragraphs 5.156–71, which cover adverbs. Adverbs are not only amazingly versatile; they’re also incredibly useful. Find out how useful by taking this quiz.
We learn from CMOS 6.23 that “a comma is not normally used to separate a two-part compound predicate joined by a coordinating conjunction.” In other words, when the subject isn’t repeated after a word like “and” or “but” in a compound sentence, a comma is usually omitted.
When you write a book to send to an agent or editor, you are preparing a manuscript. And even if your ideas, characters, and plot twists are colorful and creative, your manuscript format should not be.
Grammatically speaking, “appositive” is a fancy word for “equivalent.” For example, when we refer to your dog Smurf, “Smurf” and “your dog” are appositives—or the same thing (or animal, in this case) restated in different words.
Starting a novel is an exceptionally personal affair, so I’m always amazed when someone decides to tell us all the best way to do it. Nonetheless, there are some basic guiding principles a struggling writer might find helpful. If you’ve been burning to begin but can’t seem to type the first word, read on.
CMOS supports two systems of source citation. Notes and bibliography, covered in a previous workout, consists of numbered footnotes or endnotes and, usually, a bibliography. Author-date, the subject of this workout, relies on parenthetical references in the text and a corresponding reference list.
I often encourage creative writers to join one or more private Facebook groups where they can post questions and share resources with other writers. There are specialized groups for children’s book writers, romance writers, fantasy—you name it.