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 October, 2002

Grammar Tips

by Sandy Tritt


The greatest novel in the history of the universe will never reach publication if the author does not have a decent command of the English language. If your grammar needs a brush up, consider taking a grammar course at your local college, or at least invest in a good grammar text and study it. Most of the manuscripts I see have decent grammar. However, there are still some common mistakes that I see too often.

  • Maintain tense. Changing from past tense to present tense within a scene is (almost) never acceptable.
  • Check spelling. With all the spell check features available, there is no excuse for mis-spelling words.
  • Don't always trust spell check. Many spell check editors remove hyphens between compound adjectives that precede a noun, such as "well-known writer."
  • Punctuation goes inside quotation marks. "Learning the correct grammar," Sandy said, "can be interesting."
  • Use double quotation marks for dialogue. When it is necessary to make a quote within dialogue, use single quotation marks. "Sandy said, 'Watch using single quotes.'"

I also see certain words misused with some frequency. These include:

  • Lay/Lie. Definitely the most common error I run into. And no wonder. In present tense, lay means to cause to lie down or to place. It requires an object. Example: "He laid his hat next to his gloves," where laid (past tense of "lay") is the verb and his hat is the object. Lie means to be or to place oneself in a reclining position. Example: "He lies on the bed pretending to sleep." There is no object, nothing that further explains what or who lies, because the verb lie modifies the subject of the sentence (in this case, he). But it is past tense that trips up 80% of the writers I've worked with. The past tense of lay is laid. No sweat. BUT -- the past tense of lie is lay. Ugh! (Any wonder we get confused?) Examples:
  •  Present tense: She lays the book on the table.
     Past tense: She laid the book on the table.
     Present tense: She lies on the sofa and enjoys the breeze.
     Past tense: She lay on the sofa and enjoyed the breeze.
    • Alright/All right. Alright is no longer considered an acceptable word. All right is the only correct spelling.
    • Then/Than. Then means a time or accordingly. Than is a comparison.
    • Affect/Effect. Affect is usually a verb meaning "to influence." Effect is a noun, meaning "result." Drinking does not affect his personality. If fact, it seems to have no effect at all.
    • Conscience/Conscious. Conscience is a noun meaning having a sense of right and wrong. Conscious is an adjective meaning to be aware of.
    • Have/ Of. Use have, not of, after helping verbs such as could, would, should, may and might. I should have (not of) known that. I think this confusion occurs because of the pronunciation of the contracted have: 've. So, our example sentence could have been written: I should've known that.

    If your grammar exceeds the seventh grade level, you make take literary license and "adjust" the grammar as you see fit as long as it serves an artistic purpose. Such as using sentence fragments like this one for emphasis. However, if it doesn't serve a purpose, use correct grammar so your reader (and publisher!) will realize that you do understand the proper way of doing it.

    I will continue to add to this page as needed. There are many websites devoted to grammar and/or spelling, so don't hesitate to scan the Net for help if you need it. I've also added an entire tip sheet devoted to commas, as this is certainly a problem area for just about everyone.

    (c) copyright 1999 by Sandy Tritt. All rights reserved, except for those listed here. October be reproduced for educational purposes (such as for writer's workshops), as long as this copyright notice and the url: http://tritt.wirefire.com are distributed with the pages. For use in conferences or other uses not mentioned here, please contact Sandy Tritt at tritt@wvadventures.net for permission and additional resources at no or limited charge.

       Keep writing!

    Sandy Tritt

    Inspiration for Writers tritt@wvadventures.net

    Go Back in Time!...

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    New e-book on Temperament Therapy


    by Dr. Rick Martin

    Temperament is the God-given, inborn nature of each person determining how he or she interacts and reacts with people, circumstances, environments, situations, and the world.

    Temperament is who we are on the inside, what the Bible calls ďthe inner manĒ (or woman, God is not talking gender here). The National Christian Counselors Association, in the early 1980s, conducted seven years of research involving 5,000 people in regards to temperament. The research is still continuing.

    It is now possible, through the use of the Temperament Analysis Profile Report (renamed the Arno Profile System in honor of Drs. Arno who were intimately involved in this research), to determine a personís temperament and their temperament needs accurately and scientifically.

    When a personís temperament needs are being met by healthy and godly means, stress, anxiety and the problems related to stress and anxiety are greatly reduced.

    Some of the problems directly connected to stress and anxiety are: depression, dissatisfaction, loneliness, fear, frustration, anger, marriage and family problems, poor work performance, exhaustion and inter/intra personal conflicts.

    Even the American Medical Association has stated that 80% of physical ailment is stress related. Dr. Rick is convinced Temperament Therapy is Godís gift to the church to help people in the area of counseling.

    Temperament Therapy is Bible based and Christ-centered. He is also convinced that relationship problems are all temperament rooted and has yet to find a problem, great or small, that cannot be solved with Temperament Therapy.

    Dr. Rick wrote God Created You: A Guide To Temperament Therapy to provide information in a fun, easy to understand, non-clinical format so people could understand who God created them to be, how God created others and how to have happy, healthy relationships with the rest of Godís creatures (people; yes, God created them the way they are also, just as He did you). He is convinced this book will help anyone who has any relationship (at work or home or play) to be the person God intended them to be and to enjoy happier, healthier relationships.

    GOD CREATED YOU by Dr. Rick Martin

    A guide to Temperament Therapy.

    Purchase your copy now! Just $15. Click here.


    Lynette's creative Writing Website

    (type both lines in one)




    Read...   Move Over Maharishi

    By Dee Landerman

    An ordinary housewife is catapulted into the unknown. For over twenty-five years with one foot in the other dimension, experiences visions, apparitions, and visits from the divine. As a Christian Intuitive with the ability to see into a personís spirit, she experienced first hand where the departed go.

    She shares her life openly with you, with the intent to give answers and direction for you to find power, peace and acceptance in your own life. Dee reveals the ĎHeart Of Godí about organized religion and todayís churches, sharing Godís concerns and desires for America and the world.

    About the Author

    Accepting Godís terms, Dee Landerman committed her life to Jesus Christ, in exchange for the abuse and misery she was enduring and found herself the recipient of divine visitations, messages and visions. Teaching Sunday school, teen classes and a womenís group., she was always guided by the Lord with lessons and illustrations.

    Click here for more info...

    Publishing New Writers,

    October, 2002 (no.310)

    Editor Bruce L. Cook, P.O. Box 451, Dundee, IL 60118.  Fax (847) 428-8974.

    Submissions and comments to cookcomm@gte.net. Links are welcome.

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    Becoming a Known Writer

    by The Shadow

    Writing for two years has taught me that itís not easy to become famous. Well, Iím not trying to depress you here; I just want you to know how much it is important to take care of your talent.

              Any talent, no matter what it is, needs continuous practice, care, faith, hard work and patience. You know why? Because we werenít born with the knowledge of anything, even the things we like, so we need to be patient to know enough in whatever we want and to be good at it.

              So, learning is not something that we should be ashamed of (as some people think), and itís not something you donít need.

              Even practicing is a kind of knowledge. In writing, as the best example (which is my purpose of writing this), each time you write a new story, poem, articleÖetc., youíll learn something new; a writing technique, a fact or a new format, or, or, or... Anything could be learnt. Even if you donít notice any change, it happens.

              Just try what I say and youíll see that by practicing, youíre helping yourself to get better, and eventually publishers will like your work.

              When I say that learning more is very important, I donít mean by reading useful books and practicing only, of course not! I mean learning from every source that you could learn from:

    -         If you know a journalist, a reporter or a writer, you could ask for some tips and guidelines.

    -         If you find a good course in an institute or on the web, then register and start studying.

    -         And if you find a website that gives you a chance to show your work to others and get feedback (like AuthorMe.com) then make sure you have a piece of your work published there.

    These are my thoughts on Becoming A Known Writer. As I believe in what I said and Iím doing all of it, I believe that this way leads any ambitious young writer to publicity. Who knows, maybe it leads to becoming a bestseller someday???!!! 


    The Shadow  (The Shadow)

    Writing Therapy

    Cost: $25.00

    Instructor Name: Lynette Rees [Dip. Couns]

    Instructor Email: peaceful_writer@yahoo.com

    Url: http://class.universalclass.com/writingtherapy

    What is Writing Therapy?

    Writing Therapy is a way of connecting with your emotions via pen and paper, or the keyboard. I devised this course after studying the research of James W Pennebaker, Head of Psychology, University of Texas. Pennebaker's research shows that writing helps to lift the mood of depressed people. He also found that students who wrote about how they were feeling coped better with their exams.

    Class Format

    I have devised 9 lessons in all - taking you from what writing therapy is to covering the basic emotions we feel such as anger, grief, love, fear etc. I've also added a lesson on dreams and how to interpret yours, and a bonus lesson on creative writing. Each lesson has an appropriate assignment to match the lesson's content.

    Write your way to emotional health!


    Writerly Websites...


    This is Dianne Ochiltree's site for children, parents, teachers and writers for young readers. Dianne is an author of books for young readers (birth to teenage)

    and she is also a children's book reviewer. She's been writing professionally for over 25 years---about 18 years in public relations/advertising/marketing and the last 7 years as a children's writer. Dianne has two books published to date, with Scholastic and with Simon & Schuster.

    http://tritt.wirefire.com The Inspiration for Writers website offers help and encouragement to writers of all levels. Tips and Techniques give practical advice about frequent writing blunders. The Writer's Prayer, inspirational quotes, and essays about the writing life add insight and inspiration. The Fiction Showcase offers short stories for the reader's enjoyment. And, for those serious about improving their writing skills, manuscript critiques and coaching services are available. Visit http://tritt.wirefire.com today!

    Critiquing Special

    • Limited time special, one cent per word.  Just mention Publishing New Writers  Newsletter (October, 2002).

        Critiques by Sandy Tritt

    • Unlike most editors, I consider my role to be a mentor or a coach. Instead of just telling you what is wrong, I explain how to correct the problem, and I work with you to teach you how to write effective prose. More than 50% of my business is repeat business, and I relish establishing long-term relationships with other writers.
    • Treat you with respect and compassion. All criticism will be of the "constructive" sort. My purpose is to improve your writing, not to destroy your confidence.
    • Mark your manuscript, correcting grammatical and spelling errors and suggesting alternative wording where appropriate, line-by-line.
    • Highlight areas that are especially well-written, so you will know where your strengths are.
    • Where appropriate, offer suggestions for plot development, character development or other areas that could be strengthened.
    • Return a two-to-four page written analysis of your work. This will include evaluation of: plot, setting, characterization, dialogue, special effects (flash forwards, flashbacks, etc.), voice, point of view and any other areas particular to your work.
    • If appropriate, recommend reading or resources to strengthen your areas of weakness.
    • Answer any questions you  have via email.
    • Provide my telephone number for a personal follow-up, if you desire.

    For Sandy's success stories, see http://tritt.wirefire.com/Manuscript_Critique.html

    Write Sandy at tritt@wvadventures.net

    (See Sandy's article above.)










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