Writing Team Editing
Each writing team should workshop stories their team members submit for comment and constructive criticism. These stories should be sent in a timely manner and discussed during critique meetings online (during lockdown). The editing should cover the following.
Storytelling elements such as structure, pacing, characterization, and point of view in order to strengthen the story.
Editing grammar, punctuation, and elements of style. Purpose: to clarify and make effective what the writer is trying to say.
Each team member should make a last pass over an already copy-edited manuscript to check for any remaining errors in spelling, punctuation, and mechanical issues. These are “must change” matters to conform to the HMWG in house style guide and restrictions. These corrections go back to the writer, who then makes the needed changes and submits to the guild editors’ team for a final confirmation check.
The following pages will give tips on some suggestions made above.
HMWG Style Guide 2022/23
Said or asked are preferred. Other tags should be used sparingly.
See Commonly Confused Words (available by request from your team coordinator)
Adjectives and Adverbs: Eliminate excessive use. The writer should show not tell.
Capitalization: Initial words, official titles, proper nouns and names, use in headings and captions
Contractions: Acceptable in dialogue. Represent omitted letters in figures and dates.
Nouns (names of persons, things, or ideas) don’t require an antecedent.
Pronouns replace nouns require an appropriate agreement.
Run-on Sentences: When two or more independent clauses are connected improperly
Sentence fragments: Use sparingly and only for effect.
Standard English verb forms.
Tense: check for confusion of past and narrative present.
Mood: The atmosphere/general feeling a piece of writing has for the reader.
Voice: Distinct style of writing/author’s voice and genre voice (diction, detail, imagery, syntax, tone)
Tone: What the author feels
Spell out 0 to 9.
10 and up, written in numerical form.
Spell out any number at the beginning of a sentence.
Possessive case of compound nouns: father-in-law’s car/John’s Father’s problem
If possession shared by two or more subjects, add to last word only.
Colon: between independent clauses if the second illustrates or explains the first
Semicolon: between independent clauses not joined by a coordinating conjunction; long series or lists
Ellipsis [ . . . ] Add a period with no space if end of a sentence. Note spaces between the periods.
Em dash [—] rather than parentheses or cut-off dialogue. No spaces before or after.
En dash [–] used to join inclusive numbers or dates [i.e.: pages 9–13 or 1913–95]
Hyphen [-] is shorter than en dash. Indicates spelling of a word or slow, deliberate enunciation.
Exclamation marks: used sparingly, or it loses emphasis
Italics: inner thoughts, unusual words, or for emphasis
Parentheses: used to enclose additional information to explain (as an aside)
Quotation marks: around dialogue, punctuation inside quotations
Serial comma: House rule. See Commas Basic Uses (#3 on page 5)
Slash: separates 2 lines of poetry or separated paired terms (pass/fail, he/she)
Main purpose for your suggested revisions
Strengthen, clarify, vary, and refine
Edit grammar, punctuation, and mechanics
NOTE: Grammarly and ProWritingAid are effective free on-line tools for correcting these issues, although not always 100% correct.
Proofreading – a slow, methodical search for misspelling, typographical errors, omitted words or word endings
NOTE: This is easier to find when read aloud.
Sentence Level Revisions
Strengthening Sentences – Look for opportunities to:
Use more active verbs – vary synonyms, nouns, pronouns, verbs
Prune excess words – Flabby Words and Phrases That Rob Your Writing of All Its Power (ask your team leader for a copy of this)
Clarifying Sentences – Look for opportunities to:
Balance parallel ideas
Supply missing words
Untangle mixed constructions
Repair misplaced or dangling modifiers
Eliminate distracting shifts
Introducing Variety – Look for opportunities to:
Combine choppy sentences
Vary sentence openings and length
Refining the Style – Look for opportunities to:
Choose language more appropriate for the subject and audience
Choose more exact words
Grammar – beware of:
Sentence fragments, run-on sentences, subject-verb agreement, pronoun – antecedent agreement, pronoun reference, case of nouns or pronouns, case of who and whom, adjectives and adverbs, standard English verb forms, verb tense, mood and voice
Punctuation – check:
Comma and unnecessary comma, semicolon, colon, apostrophe, quotation marks, end punctuation, other punctuation marks
Mechanics – double-check:
Abbreviations and numbers, italics (underlining), spelling and hyphenation, capital letters, spacing
Commas (Basic Uses)
To better understand the use of the comma, begin by learning the following basic uses.
- USE A COMMA TO SEPARATE INDEPENDENT CLAUSES
Rule: Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction (and, but, yet, so, or, nor, for) when it joins two complete ideas (independent clauses).
- He walked down the street, and then he turned the corner.
- You can go shopping with me, or you can go to a movie alone.
BUT where the second half does not contain a subject, there is no comma.
- He walked down the street and then turned the corner.
- You can go shopping with me or can go to a movie alone.
- USE A COMMA AFTER AN INTRODUCTORY CLAUSE OR PHRASE
Rule: Use a comma after an introductory clause or phrase. A comma tells readers that the introductory clause or phrase has come to a close and that the main part of the sentence is about to begin.
- 1. When Evan was ready to iron, his cat tripped on the cord.
- Near a small stream at the bottom of the canyon, park rangers discovered a gold mine.
BUT use no comma if four words or less.
- USE A COMMA BETWEEN ALL ITEMS IN A SERIES (serial comma)
Rule: Use a comma to separate each item in a series; a series is a group of three or more items having the same function and form in a sentence.
- We bought apples, peaches, and bananas today. (series of words)
- Mary promised she would be a good girl, that she would not bite her brother, and that she would not climb onto the television. (series of clauses)
- The instructor looked through his briefcase, through his desk, and around the office for the lost grade book. (series of phrases)
- USE COMMAS TO SET OFF NON-ESSENTIAL CLAUSES
Rule: Use commas to enclose clauses or phrases not essential to the meaning of a sentence.
- Steven Strom, whose show you like, will host a party next week. (non-essential)
- John, who spent the last three day’s fishing, is back on the job again. (non-essential)
- Alexander Pope, the Restoration poet, is famous for his monologues. (non-essential)
- The New York Jets, the underdogs, surprised everyone by winning the Super Bowl. (non-essential)
BUT where the sentence would be unclear without the clause or phrase, use no commas.
- The gentleman who is standing by the fireplace is a well-known composer. (essential)
- The poet Pope is famous for his monologues. (essential)
- USE A COMMA TO SHOW DIRECT ADDRESS
Rule: When a speaker in a sentence addresses a person or persons, the name is offset by commas.
- I think, John, you’re wrong.
- John, I think you’re wrong.
- I think you’re wrong, John.
- USE COMMAS TO SET OFF DIRECT QUOTATIONS
Rule: If the speaker in a conversation is identified, enclose the noun or pronoun plus the verb in commas
- Mary said, “I dislike concerts because the music is too loud.”
- “I dislike concerts because the music is too loud,” she said.
- “I dislike concerts,” proclaimed Mary, “because the music is too loud.”
- USE COMMAS WITH DATES, ADDRESSES, TITLES, AND NUMBERS
Rules for dates: Set off the year from the rest of the sentence with a pair of commas.
- On December 12, 1890, General Ruger sent an order for the arrest of Sitting Bull.
Rules for addresses: Separate by commas the elements of an address or place name. A zip code, however, is not preceded by a comma.
- John Lennon was born in Liverpool, England, in 1940.
- Please send the letter to Greg Carvin at 708 Spring Street, Washington, IL 61571.
Rules for titles: If a title follows a name, separate the title from the rest of the sentence with a pair of commas.
- Sandra Belinsky, MD, has been appointed to the board.
- 2. John Smith, Junior/Senior, has been appointed to the board.
Also, in lists: Proper names and titles
- Smith, John, Junior/Senior
- John, Junior/Senior
Rules for numbers: In numbers over four digits long, use commas to separate the numbers into groups of three, starting from the right. In numbers four digits long, a comma is optional.
- 3,500 [or 3500]; 100,000; 6,000,000
- USE OF COMMAS BETWEEN MULTIPLE ADJECTIVES PRECEDING AND QUALIFYING A NOUN
Rules: If two or more adjectives are used, separate them with commas.
- an enterprising, ambitious man
- a cold, damp, north-facing room
- a great, wise, and beneficent measure
BUT (exception 1) where an “and” joins two modifying adjectives or phrases, no comma is used.
- the honourable and learned member
AND (exception 2) where the last adjective is in close relation to the noun, no comma is used.
- a distinguished foreign author
- USE OF COMMAS SURROUNDING TRANSITIONAL WORDS (MOREOVER, HOWEVER, THEREFORE, ETC.)
Rule: When transitional words are used for emphasis, enclose in commas.
- It is undeniable, therefore, that the defendant is guilty.
- However, it won’t be as easy as you think.
BUT where there are other commas nearby, these commas may be omitted.
- He is silly, foolish, and therefore an unlikely choice.
How to Do Fiction Critique in A Writers’ Circle
- Does it have a strong opening?
- Is the first sentence snappy and intriguing, or does it ramble on?
- Do you get a sense of place and point of view within the first few paragraphs, or do you feel lost and confused?
- Does it make you want to keep reading?
- Does the opening have a hook or story question?
- Does the piece contain conflict?
- Is it physical conflict or mental conflict – in your opinion does it work?
- Does the piece progress the plot?
- Is the plot interesting?
- Could the plot development be improved by restructuring?
- How well is the setting described?
- What did you think of the characters?
- Were they distinct or too similar?
- Were there too many characters, so it became confusing?
- Were the characters interesting?
- Were they plausible?
- What did you think of the dialogue?
- Did the dialogue feel realistic?
- Was the dialogue interesting?
- Did the characters have unique ways of speaking to distinguish them?
- Could you always tell who was speaking?
Point of View
- Did the piece stick to a single point of view?
- If there were multiple points of view, was it consistent and for a reason?
Show versus tell
- Did the piece do much telling instead of showing?