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87

English grammar is anything but black and white. Everything is debatable, even the definition of "word". Punctuation is not grammar. This is a punctuation question, not a grammar question. Your publisher probably has a preferred style guide that they want their authors to use. Everything is negotiable. Negotiations are all about who has the most clout. If ...


72

I can type at about 5K words per hour, but I can't write nearly that fast. I need to think of what's going on. I need to keep some sort of consistency, and I can't remember all the details. I need to do some planning. My creativity seems to burn out somewhere around 5K words each day. Putting words on the computer screen is one thing; knowing which ...


68

If you are submitting to a professional journal that (like many) puts a short blurb about the author(s) somewhere in the article or journal, you could provide a suggested blurb and ensure that there is at least one feminine pronoun in it somewhere. If they don't, or you don't know, you could say, "in case you need an author's introduction, here is a ...


59

As a person of color, I've sometimes had a version of the same dilemma. Is there a professional organization for people of your gender and expertise? If so, you could join the organization, and then sign as follows: Morgan Meredith American Women Tech Writers Association or Morgan Meredith Member, American Women Tech Writers If there is no such ...


45

For many years --decades actually --my goal with every piece of writing I wrote was that it be read and appreciated by someone. There were plenty of things I wrote that didn't achieve that goal, and ended up moldering away in some corner of my hard-drive, but I viewed those projects as failures. I write to connect with other people, and anything that doesn't ...


44

You could try reading the final draft out loud either to yourself or to another person. (That's what I have always had my own children do when they're working on school essays.) Reading out loud slows you down so that you are less likely to read over a duplicated word and it will be more obvious when a word is left out. It is also a good method for ...


43

I believe it's better to steam through and finish your first draft without constant editing and second guessing everything you've written. This is because you will learn so much about your novel during that process, and will settle into a style and rhythm. If you reread everything immediately then you are at risk of what you've described - not seeing it ...


40

I can't speak to the Italian market specifically, but generally speaking the fiction market is totally saturated with manuscripts, most of them completely hopeless. This saturation means that it is very hard to get over the first hurdle of getting a publisher or agent to even pick up and read your manuscript. Two ways to improve your chances of getting ...


34

I also have a confusing first name. When I want to clarify, I sign email as "Firstname Lastname (Ms.)". That conveys my gender as effectively as "Ms. Firstname Lastname", but by putting the title at the end and in parentheses, I don't look like I'm insisting on being addressed by that title. I strongly recommend against putting your photo in your CV, cover ...


33

Lack of proofreading has been the bane of writing in many locations over the last few years. Do you remember back when newspapers came to your house and you paid to subscribe? Okay, maybe you don't, due to age or location, but it was a thing. Most people (at least among the college-educated folks I knew) subscribed to the daily local paper which was ...


32

I once saw someone in your situation address the problem by adding a (gendered) middle name to signatures. This could either be your real middle name if you have one, or a nickname that you're prepared to answer to. If it's your real name, just write it normally: Morgan Ann Meredith If it's a nickname, that is, a name you're happy to have people use ...


28

In theory this could be possible, but such an author would burn themselves out after a couple of days with such an intense schedule. A novel is more than just 100,000 words thrown together. There needs to be a story and characters. You need to engage the audience, ensure there are no accidental contradictions. This requires planning and revisions and this is ...


27

Read from the bottom up. It derails the comprehension so it's much easier to see individual words, and you catch many more typos and dropped words.


25

You are under the misguided assumption that writing is just the act of putting words on paper. The verb itself certainly has that meaning, but when applied to the writing of books, there is also conceptualizing, planning, outlining. Many works of fiction have at least the same number of words in notes and ideas. And then there is the word that I'll only ...


24

Use a courtesy title which reflects your gender. Sign your submission as "Ms. Morgan Meredith." Subtle but unambiguous.


24

If you want to be a writer, you had better get used to reading and re-reading your own material. I just completed what I hope is the final edit on my latest book. I haven't been keeping score, but I have read the entire book through ... at least 5 times. And every time through I find problems I missed on previous reads. How to get the motivation? I don't ...


20

Fix it now vs fix it later is a perennial question in writing. Often the answers given are absolutist one way or the other, or come down to "whatever works for you". But I would suggest a different approach, one which divides changes into structural and cosmetic. If you were building a house and you discovered a crack in the foundation or a flaw in the ...


20

The editor is there to make sure the publisher is happy with what they're publishing. This doesn't always coincide with what the writer wants to say, but the reasons for this will include many that don't involve the word "better" except when it's followed by the word "fit" - house style and a knowledge of the readership or intended market being obvious ones. ...


20

For me, writing is a passion. Not writing is an impossibility. There are stories in my mind; I need to tell them. I need to find out where they go, how they go, what they mean. I have something in mind when I start a story, but it changes, mutates, I do not fully understand it until it is written and finished. I find out what I think and how I feel about ...


19

There are two concepts in git that can help: branches and tags. Tags. Think of a tag as a name for a specific revision. Any time you want to remember a version, create a tag for it. For example, when you finish a draft, you can tag it like this: git tag first_draft When to use tags. Tags are good for marking any version that you might want to remember ...


19

I'm a research scientist and professor at a university. We tolerate exactly this "rather curious approach" to research, of multiple refinements until we zero in on something interesting. We do experiment after experiment to find it. Do you realize how many different takes on the internal combustion engine were tried before Ford invented the engine block? ...


18

There's no point in polishing work that you're not going to keep for the final product. I'd work through at the macro level first, cutting/adding/moving big chunks, and then I'd go back and look at the medium level stuff (style and flow, etc.), and then polish up whatever's left. That said, my first drafts are pretty clean. If your spelling and ...


18

The answer is quite subjective because the "em dashes" sometimes work really well in a sentence while sometimes they are just disruptive to the flow of the thing you attempt to say. The key part is trying not to overuse the effects you try to create. A reader will quickly be bored by the predictability of such effect. I have been accused — shock, ...


18

Although you have the right to tell the truth, that is not defined by what you just know must be true. The truth must be verifiable. What proof do you have to publish, or to back up what you publish (like video)? The word of a victim that, conceivably, might be lying to you? Professional news outlets, reporters and editors, are trained and consult lawyers ...


18

this seems to mean that they wouldn't have to spend too much time on revision or editing other than correcting a few minor mistakes here and there You seem to consider revision as error fixing, but fixing the story is another major part of revising. This is unrelated to how someone created the text (dictation, typing, ...) and involves a lot of cut/pasting ...


17

It is not so much about the work being ready for critique as about the writer not being able to make it any better without an outside critique. So, a beginning writer, or a poor reader, who can not see the faults in their work needs a critique at the point when the story is in a much weaker form than a more experienced writer, or good reader, who can make ...


17

The only bad ideas are the ones which stop you from finishing the book. Write and edit if you like. Write halfway and edit. Write the whole thing blindfolded. Write only at night, or only during a full moon. Write in the morning and edit in the evening, or vice-versa. There are no restrictions. If the thought of editing an entire book at once makes you ...


16

John Smithers' advice is good, but I'd add a few details (and leave it for longer than three weeks!) Before you put the MS away, make a first pass at your query letter, as well. This is good because the query needs some time away from your eyes just like the MS does, and because writing the query can really help you figure out what the book has going for ...


16

If you want to work within emacs, I would consider org-mode; it's what I'm currently using for writing projects (amongst other things). First and foremost, it's an outliner, with facilities for structuring your document(s) hierarchically. If you want to plan a story out into acts, acts into sequences, sequences into scenes, maybe scenes into beats......


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