Lynnís Notes for Writers
At the risk of being thought a know-it-all, I an publishing corrections for some of the errors I often find when editing. And before you're through with the subject be sure to read Linda Barth and Jessie Gurner's COMMON PITFALLS IN FANFIC and RULES OF GRAMMAR . They're both invaluable.
"Itís true that the dog chases its tail." Now substitute "It is" for both.
"It is true that the dog chases it is tail."
It should be clear which one is correct. When in doubt, substitute "It is" in your head. It will quickly tell you which is right.
Itís "rein in" as in stopping a horse, not "reign in";
reign means "Exercise of sovereign power, as by a monarch."(2)
"Good," replied Vincent, "Weíll go below, have a meal, and then we can talk, if you wish." As he turned to climb over the balcony wall he added, "Iíll meet you below your building in fifteen minutes."
"Wait,wait!" Catherine laughed, "I wonít be ready in fifteen minutes! Please, letís make it half an hour."
Donít substitute both pronouns:
a large rock forced he and she apart
That may look OK to you. Just use one, and you will see that itís not right.
Don't use the same word twice in the same paragraph, unless you are doing so for added impact. Use your thesaurus. Just use it in general, it will enrich your writing vocabulary
Dialogue is almost always more interesting than straight description:
Mouse was a person who didnít speak much, and when he did, he spoke in strange ways, although he was cheerful and happy.
Mouseís face broke into his blinding grin. "OK good, OK fine, Mouse can do that!"Sometimes people have a tendency to write in the present tense: "Catherine walks across the room and picks up a book." Although we often talk this way, one cannot write fiction this way. It must be past tense. "Catherine walked across the room and picked up a book." Unless you are writing stage direction in a script. Then present tense is called for.
Quotes in bold are from:
(1)The American Heritageģ Book of English Usage
(2)The American Heritageģ Dictionary of the English Language
You will find both listed here: http://www.bartleby.com/reference/