Where Else Am I? Inky Fresh Press Guest Post #4 on Formatting

This month, I’m Inky Fresh Press’s guest blogger, and I’m doing a series on editing (for post NaNoWriters and those looking to polish their non-NaNo manuscripts alike).

Last week, Inky Fresh Press posted the third in the series: Editfication: Revision Tips for Getting Your Work Read & Represented.

The final post is on formatting.  Check it out!

I hope you enjoyed the series!

The rest in the series:

Where Else Am I? Inky Fresh Press Guest Post #2 on Editing/Revision

This month, I’m Inky Fresh Press’s guest blogger, and I’m doing a series on editing (for post NaNoWriters and those looking to polish their non-NaNo manuscripts alike).

Today, Inky Fresh Press posted the second in the series: Editfication: Revision Tips for Getting Your Work Read & Represented.

This one’s on style.  Check it out!

The rest in the series:

Where Else Am I? My Guest Post Series on Editing (at Inky Fresh Press)

This month, I’m Inky Fresh Press’s guest blogger, and I’m doing a series on editing (for post NaNoWriters and those looking to polish their non-NaNo manuscripts alike).

Today, Inky Fresh Press posted the first in the series: Editfication: Revision Tips for Getting Your Work Read & Represented.

Check it out!

The rest in the series:

In the Blogosphere: 9/20-10/15

“In the Blogosphere” is a series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week (usually).

I’m admittedly behind with my Blogosphere posts—I have about 50 links saved, dating all the way back to May/June-ish (oh noes!)—but they are all still worth a look.  I’ll catch up eventually, right?


Author and D4EO agent Mandy Hubbard gives a bit of unorthodox advice . . . about how one line can change your career.

Here, another agent-turned-author, the fabulous Nathan Bransford of Curtis Brown, Ltd., talks about “undercooking” a novel.

Here, Bookends, LLC, agent Jessica Faust offers some query don’ts.


Over at Write Anything, Annie Evett did a nice little series on voice and dialogue.  Here’s the last of those posts, that contains links to the others in the series.

At League of Extraordinary Writers, Angie Smibert discusses handling readers’ baggage and creating the appearance of truth that readers can find believable.

At Novel Matters, Patti Hill demonstrates how to weed your manuscript.

One of my favorite features over at YA Highway, Amanda Hannah talks about passive sentences one “Sentence Strengthening Sunday” (you don’t have to be a YA writer to appreciate the fabulosity of this) right here.

Confused about manuscript formatting?  Author Louise Wise gives you a crash course here.

Here, YA author Jamie Harrington talks about constructive criticism.  Can you handle it?

Middle-grade author Janice Hardy discusses a subject near and dear to my heart—grammar.  Just what are the basics everyone needs to know?


We all need a good writerly pep talk now and again.

Here’s one from YA author Elana Johnson.

Here’s another from freelancer Heather Trese, for good measure.


You’ve got just over a week left to enter my scary story contest—freak me out in 1,000 words of less!

Over at Savvy B2B Marketing, Wendy Thomas discusses a subject that fascinates me these days: online writing vs. old school journalism (being that I used to teach journalism . . . and now I do a good bit of online writing!).

Here, Writer’s Digest Books’ own Robert Lee Brewer offers a Twitter cheat sheet for those not “hip” to all the “lingo” (hehe) or not quite sure how to optimize your use.

The Straight Dope on Quotation Marks (and Using Punctuation with Them)

I did one of these “straight dope” posts (on semicolons) last month, and it went over pretty well, so—voila!—it’s now going to be a regular feature here on the blog!  (Aren’t you impressed that I have the power to do that?)

“The Straight Dope” highlights common grammatical errors*—so you can stop looking like an idiot when you do these things incorrectly.** 🙂

All right, kids.  Quotation marks! You’re going to have to stop pissing me off with these things.

"I've turned the moon into what I like to call a 'death star.'"

I could enter into a huge discussion about all the uses, but I’ll focus on where I most commonly see hiccups—call me a pessimist for focusing on the negative.  (However, I think it’s better not to confuse you about the stuff you’re already doing correctly!)

Q.: Do I use quotation marks with titles?


Only use quotation marks in the titles of short works (songs, poems, short stories, etc.).

Ex:  “Gettin Jiggy Wit It” is one of my favorite songs evaaaaar!  (Don’t judge me. Click here.)

Q.: When do I use the *single* quotation marks?

A.:  Unless you’re using that same symbol as an apostrophe (and you’d BETTER be using the one that curls the right way!), the only time to use “single quotation marks” is when you’re quoting something or mentioning a title (one that needs to be punctuated using quotation marks) within a quotation.

Ex:  “‘Gettin Jiggy Wit It’ is one of my favorite songs ever,” said Ricki.

Ex:  “She said, ‘I can’t believe I even associate with you!'”

Q.:  Do quotation marks go inside or outside commas, periods, question marks, exclamation points, and colons?

A.:  This one’s a little more complicated.

Commas and periods go INSIDE closing quotation marks pretty much ALWAYS.

Ex:  “I’m not sure if you really need an example of this,” Ricki said.

Ex:  “We’re glad you gave us one anyway.”

Ex:  Ricki says “the bomb.com,” “faboo,” and “fabulosity.”

With question marks and exclamation points, IT VARIES.  If they are part of a quote or spoken dialogue, then the closing quotation mark goes OUTSIDE.  If they are not part of a quotation or within dialogue, they go INSIDE.  You must look at the whole sentence to determine the correct context.

Ex:  They were sick of her ridiculous “vocabulary”!

Ex:  Didn’t they find it to be “fantabulous”?

Ex:  “Why can’t you just stop?” you ask.

Ex:  “I can’t help it!” I exclaim.

With colons, the closing quotation mark ALWAYS GOES INSIDE.

Ex:  These are some the “words” from her ridiculous “vocabulary”: “whatevs,” “awesomesauce,” and “ginormous.”

Questions, class?

*Please note: Unless otherwise specified, I am giving the proper grammar and formatting rules according to Chicago style.

**I get it: Correct grammar is not always obvious!  A lot of the reason we err is because we’re constantly seeing different styles and formats in our everyday lives—newspapers, magazines, (God help us) blogs, etc., all use different styles.

We’re taught basic grammar in grade school. When you move into junior high and high school, teachers start throwing “MLA formatting” at us.  And, depending on your area of study in college, you could be facing APA formatting, AP style, Chicago style . . . ahh!

“Why does it matter?” my students would ask.

“Because you (should) want to communicate in a clear and concise way,” I’d say.  And then I’d bury my face in my palms.

I wish this video (award-winning YA author John Green’s answer to that annoying question) had been available when I was teaching.  It would have saved a lot of time—and probably my liver.  I know I linked to this a few weeks ago, but watch it again.  (It’s definitely worth a click if you missed it, BTW.)

In the Blogosphere: 7/5-7/16

“In the Blogosphere” is a series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week (usually).


We’ve all got Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn accounts in order to boost our platforms, right?  But how do we make sure we’re using these tools effectively?

Here, Suzie Townsend of FinePrint Literary Management says voice is key when blogging.

As well, Writer Unboxed’s Kathleen Bolton discusses five rules to keep in mind before posting anything online.


I’ve had several writer friends ask me about voice lately.  What is it?  How do you craft it?  Is it something you just have to *have*, or can it be developed?

Ah, voice. You slippery, intangible bastard, you.

In her “Footnotes” series over at the Guide to Literary Agents blog, guest blogger Nancy Parish lists five voice-related articles that just might help you answer some of those questions.

As well, Curtis Brown Ltd.’s Nathan Bransford weighs in on the subject.


There is much debate on whether or not one should write to trends. The common school of thought is that, once something is trendy on the shelves, that particular trend is about three years old—and, therefore, no longer the “it” thing.

D4Eo Literary’s Mandy Hubbard posted a very interesting two-part series on trends.  Here, she discusses what’s trendy (like, in the slush pile) and what possible holes there are in the market.  Here, she divulges what she’s noticed editors are currently seeking.  (She also says NOT to write to trends.)

Going along with the idea of writing the books you want to write and staying true to yourself, Curtis Brown Ltd.’s Sarah LaPolla says we could all learn a thing or two from Betty White at her Glass Cases blog.


I’ve been doing a lot of editing lately, so I’ve been paying a lot of attention to grammar and formatting.  And, of course, that differs, depending on what type of writing you’re doing and who you’re writing it for.

At his Questions and Quandaries blog, Writer’s Digest’s Brian A. Klems preaches to the choir (well, if I’m the choir) about The Chicago Manual of Style. Here, he gives a nice little breakdown of what stylebooks to use and when—and he offers practical advice in terms of grammar and style as well.

Adjectives are the devil—and The Conversion Chronicles’s Daphne Gray-Grant agrees in this fantastic pro-verb post.

Book Review: Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript

With all the conflicting information regarding formatting out there in the blogosphere, whether you’re a screenwriter, novelist, or freelancer, the 3rd Edition of Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript (Writer’s Digest Books) is a one-stop resource you cannot do without.*

Chuck Sambuchino and a slew of other editors of Writer’s Digest Books have outdone previous editions of FSYM as well as similar books on the market because, not only do they provide detailed instructions on how to format screenplays, scripts, and manuscripts, they also demonstrate how to put together query letters and nonfiction book proposals. They show dozens of good and bad examples to boot, so you can see where you fall on the spectrum.

In addition to formatting Do’s and Don’ts, FSYM is loaded with tips from industry professionals such as literary agents, award-winning authors, screenwriters, playwrights, editors, and producers. Aside from all the great info, one of my favorite aspects of this edition is that Sambuchino and the gang uses The Office, How I Met Your Mother, as well as other popular, modern shows to demonstrate proper style. Not only is it cool to see snippets of your favorite TV shows’ scripts, but this touch makes the whole thing more authentic—to see this formatting in action in a “real” script as opposed to a generic one crafted by the editors just to give the example.

I highly recommend it, no matter what kind of writing you do—no matter where you are in your career.  Sambuchino and his colleagues do a great job of explaining the query and submission processes in ways that are palatable enough for beginners to understand; but they also pack each page with information even the most seasoned scribes need.

I didn’t even bother making room for FSYM on my bookshelf because it’s one of those titles I reach for so often, it didn’t make sense to keep it out of arms’ reach.

Um … did you order it yet?

Here’s a link with more info on it.

*FSYM is one of my main resources/references in my session at RWA Nationals in Orlando, Sweat the Small Stuff: Getting Your Work Read & Represented.