Showing posts with label homonyms. Show all posts
Showing posts with label homonyms. Show all posts

Five Great Little Tips Directly from "The Frugal Editor"

Quick Editing Excerpts from Carolyn Howard-Johnson

1.            Here's one of my favorite agent tips found in the third edition of my The Frugal Editor's chapter titled “Let’s Peek Into the minds and Inboxes of Literary Agents."  It's full of query letter pet peeves agents generously let me quote: Kae Tienstra says agents can tell when they are being “buttered up...we know you’re impressed with our ‘wonderful publishing credentials and vast experience’ as agents. But, ya know? We’ve only been agents for a short time so who are we kidding here?”
2.            Don’t trust your spell checker. “…copy-and-paste remnants hang in your copy until you, the author, an editor, or a careful reader (embarrassing!) ream them out. That’s because spell checkers don’t recognize one or two letters like or an as typos. They also don’t know the difference for the spelling of many homonyms that you will know once you have read The Frugal Editor’s chapter on homonyms writers frequently miss.
3.            The Frugal Editor gives you permission to try to get in on the book cover discussion, even if your book will be traditionally published. The most destructive and common error? Putting the author’s name in small font at the bottom of the cover design.
4.            Keep up with the latest trends in “politically correct” language. Yes. Even if you don’t intend to abide by them. Sometimes it isn’t about politics at all. It’s about avoiding reviewer’s critiques or, worse, rejections from agents, publishers, and the journalists who might otherwise give you some free ink. (Learn more in the chapter “About Stuff That Shouldn’t Trouble Us But Does.”)
5.            Even humorists who do not plan to write a book need to brush up on the niceties of dialogue. The media uses anecdotes (with or without dialogue) more than ever before. Find little tidbits in my “Editor’s Extras” scattered throughout The Frugal Editor including the one titled “Stephen King on Making Dialogue Logical.”

                                                        ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of the newly released third edition of The Frugal Editor from Modern History Press. It is the second multi award-winning book in her HowToDoItFrugally Series where it serves as an example of Amazon’s new free benefit for series of books that offers a special package deal—much like a boxed set—for all her books. (That’s a bonus tip!) 

 The Frugal Editor has been fully updated including a chapter on how backmatter can be extended to help readers and nudge book sales. It’s available on Amazon in paper, hard cover, or as an e-book.

Self-Editing: 10 Tips Checklist for Children’s Writers

You’ve been working on your story for a while now and you think it’s just about done. It’s been critiqued numerous times and you revised it numerous times. Now, it’s time to proofread and self-edit. You don’t want to short-change yourself on the last stretch, so get ready to put the final layers of polish on your manuscript.

Here are 10 tips to you can use to help fine-tune your children’s manuscript:

1. Check for clarity

Check each sentence for clarity. It’s important to remember that you may know what you intend to convey, but your readers may not. It’d be a good idea to have someone else read the manuscript for you. This is where a good critique group comes in handy.

2. Check for “telling” and lackluster sentences

Check each sentence for telling. While you will need some effective telling, you want to have more showing.

Example: Joe hit his head and was dazed.
Alternative: Joe banged his head against the tree. He wobbled a moment and fell to the ground.

Show, don’t tell. Use your imagination and picture your character going through motions—maybe he’s turning his lip up, or he’s cocking his head. Try to visualize it; this will help in showing rather than telling.

A good way to add more showing is to add more sensory details. Use the five senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste) to create a living character; this will help breathe life into your story.

Example: Joe felt cold.
Alternative: A chill ran through Joe’s body.

Example: Joe was frightened.
Alternative: Joe’s breath stopped. Goosebumps made the hair on his arms stand at attention.

3. Point of View: Watch for head hopping
Checking for head hopping is especially important for children’s writers since their stories should be told from the protagonist’s point of view or perspective.

If the story is being told from your main character’s point of view (POV) make sure it stays there.

If my POV character Joe is sad and wearing a frown, it wouldn’t be advisable to say: Noticing his sad face Fran immediately knew Joe was distraught. This is bringing Fran’s POV into the picture.

You might say: Joe knew Fran would immediately notice his despair; they were friends for so long.

 Or, you can just use dialogue: “Joe, what’s wrong?”

4. Watch for story consistency, conflict, clarity, and flow

Checking for consistency, conflict, clarity, and flow is another must for all writers of fiction. If you’re a children’s writer it’s even more important. Children need a structured story that’s consistent. The story also needs to provide conflict and action to keep the child engaged, along with clarity to help with comprehension. It should also flow smoothly with one paragraph, chapter moving seamlessly into the next.

5. Use spell-check

Make sure you write with spell-check on or use your word processor’s spell-check when you’re finished with your manuscript. I like writing with it on.

Just be careful here because while spell-check will catch misspelled words it won’t catch words that are spelled correct, but are the incorrect word in regard to meaning.

Example: He was to tired.
Correct: He was too tired.

These words are called homonyms and spell-check will not catch them.

A homonym is a word that sounds like another word, but is spelled different and has a different meaning. Examples of homonyms are: hare/here/hair; bare/bear/; stationary/stationery; peek/peak; principle/principal; capital/capitol; compliments/complements; cite/site/sight.

6. Use your Find function on your word processor

This is a great tool to check for “ly” words, “ing” words, weak verbs, and over used words such as “was.”

7. Watch for redundancy

Check the story for repeated phrasing and even paragraph beginnings. You don’t want several paragraphs in a row beginning with “the” or other repetitive wording. When editing your manuscript use the Find function in your word program and look for overused words.

Another aspect of redundancy is using unnecessary words.

Example: Sit down on the chair.
The word ‘down’ is redundant; ‘sit’ implies down.

Example: She whispered quietly.
The word ‘quiety’ is redundant.

8. Check for tight writing

In today’s market, tight writing is important—readers have a shorter attention span. So, get rid of unnecessary words and text.

Example: Joe had a really hard time lifting the very heavy and big trunk.
Alternative: Joe struggled to lift the huge trunk.

Also, watch for words such as “began” and “started.”

Example: He began to lift the trunk.
Alternative: He lifted the trunk.

9. Check for punctuation and grammar

There are a number of great books and even online articles that will help you learn proper punctuation and grammar. Two books that I use are: The Frugal Editor by Carolyn Howard Johnson and The Great Grammar Book by Marsha Sramek.

You can also do a Google search.

10. Children’s writers: Take illustrations into account

When writing a picture book you need to allow for illustrations. Picture books are a marriage between content and illustrations—a 50/50 deal. So, watch for text that an illustration can handle. With picture books your content doesn’t have to describe every little detail—the illustrations will embellish the story.

Well, this completes the 10 tips, but please know that self-editing is a tricky business and this is not an all inclusive list. Even knowing all the obstacles to watch out for, self-editing is still tricky. It's almost impossible for us writers to catch all our own errors; we're much too close to our work. We know every nook and cranny of the story and that makes it difficult to read it in a fresh manner. Even if we think we're reading every word, our mind is way ahead of us, that's why it's advisable to look into hiring an editor.

Karen Cioffi is a children's ghostwriter and rewriter. Have a children's book manuscript, outline, or idea? Check out: Writing for Children.


8 Regrets to Avoid When Self-Publishing Your First Novel
Your Character’s Smirking . . . or is He? Synonym Pitfalls
Harper Lee's Rich Legacy for Writers

Tricky Homonym Help on the Way

Yay! My new little help for writers is on Amazon in all its chartreuse, red, and yellow glory! As a member of VBT, I know it is something the group can benefit from.

Yep, you can now order a copy to put in your briefcase and read on the fly! It’s the Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers: The Ultimate Frugal Booklet for Avoiding Word Trippers and Crafting Gatekeeper-Perfect Copy.

This is a booklet. It isn’t intended to be a complete reference for every sneaky homonym in the English language. For one thing there is a nice list of those pesky guys in The Frugal Editor. It’s small partly because it isn’t intended to be drudgery. It’s only 54 pages, so it’s a small, easy-to-read dose of some of the most difficult word trippers, not the ones you learned in the fourth grade. And it is written with a bit of humor to brighten the experience. If you don’t learn anything from it, send it back to me and I’ll refund your money.

Buy the paperback at It is only $6.95. You support a friend (me!) and you brush up on skills for your writing career. What could be better than that?

Posted by contributor to Writers on the Move, Carolyn Howard-Johnson
The Frugal Editor (

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