August can be the most miserable time of the year what with excessive heat and humidity. There’s a name for this time of year: The Dog Days of Summer. Not even a dog wants to do outside in August. But, we writers are happy as clams inside because we have some prompts to challenge our writing creativity. Who doesn’t mind a challenge if it helps us better know ourselves also. I hope you enjoy it and personally learn something about yourself from your writing.
1. What is most important to you?
2. Your best trait
3. A movie that makes you happy
4. Something that excites you
5. Something that worries you
6. Actions that you admire
7. A time of transition
8. How did you feel today?
9. What do you spend your time thinking about?
10. What year has been your best so far?
11. Who do you trust?
12. A song from your childhood
13. What you wore today
14. How are you creative?
15. The best part of summer
16. A letter to someone else
17. I always…
18. A list of things you like
19. A question that needs to be asked
20. What do you need?
21. Your summer playlist
22. What inspires you?
23. What do you want less of?
24. What is holding you back?
25. A tiny step towards your dreams
26. Three things you want to change in your life
27. How have you grown in the past month?
28. What are you offering the world?
29. How do you spend time resting?
30. The best idea you’ve had this week
31. The book you’re currently reading
If you’re anything like me, you have a love-hate relationship with grammar. On one hand, grammar rules are necessary for greater understanding and more effective communication. On the other hand, there are just so many rules (and so many exceptions to the rules). It can be overwhelming.
But fear not! We are here to share a plethora of grammar rules for writers that we’ve tackled over the years. So let’s dig into these grammar rules together.
63 Grammar Rules for Writers
Below is our list of grammar rules for writers. We give a quick explanation after each bullet point. But click on each link for further understanding and examples of correct usage.
- “A” before consonants and “an” before vowels is not the rule. Rather, the rule is that “a” is placed before consonant-sounding words and “an” before vowel-sounding words.
- A lot vs. alot vs. allot. “A lot” is either an adverb or pronoun, “allot” is a verb, and “alot” doesn’t exist.
- Affect vs. effect. “Affect” is usually used as a verb, while “effect” is usually a noun.
- Allude vs. elude. “Allude” means to suggest or hint at something, while “elude” means to evade or escape.
- Alright vs. all right. “All right” is a commonly used phrase for okay, while “alright” doesn’t technically exist.
- Analogy vs. metaphor vs. simile. A “metaphor” is something, a “simile” is like something, and an “analogy” explains how one thing being like another helps explain them both.
- Are subjects joined by “and” singular or plural? It depends on if the subjects are independent of each other.
- Awhile vs. a while. If you can swap out the word “while” with “period of time,” then you’re likely dealing with “a while.” If not, then you’re likely dealing with “awhile.”
- Bi-annual vs. biennial. “Bi-annual” means twice a year; biennial means once every two years.
- Can I use contractions in my writing? While avoiding contractions may be proper, it can also be quite stilted.
- Can you start a sentence with “because?” Because there’s no grammar rule against it, it’s totally acceptable to begin a sentence with “because.”
- Canceled vs. cancelled. If you play “soccer,” then it’s “canceled.” However, people who play “football” (with a soccer ball) should probably use “cancelled.”
- Do you underline book titles? Sometimes titles are underlined. Other times, they are italicized or put in quotes. Heck, some folks put them in ALL CAPS. Adhere to individual house styles and stay consistent.
- E-mail vs. email. When the AP and Chicago style guides agree, it’s time to make it official and drop the hyphen.
- Empathy vs. sympathy vs. apathy. “Empathy” means you can understand what another feels; “sympathy” means you can share sadness for another’s misfortune; and “apathy” means you don’t care one way or the other.
- Ensure vs. insure. Some style guides make these words interchangeable, but WD uses “insure” when referring specifically to financial insurance policies and “ensure” to mean “to make certain.”
- Everyday vs. every day. “Everyday” is an adjective; “every day” is a phrase that means “each day.”
- Fable vs. parable vs. allegory. Fables and parables are actually both allegories with fables usually featuring animal characters and parables featuring humans.
- Fewer vs. less. Use “fewer” to refer to descending counting numbers and “less” to indicate declining degrees of something (often in an abstract way).
- Heroes vs. heros. “Heroes” is the plural of “hero,” while “Heros” is a type of fish.
- Heroin vs. heroine vs. hero. Some people prefer to make “hero” gender neutral for men and women. Others feel “heroine” is the correct usage. On the other hand, “heroin” is a drug.
- Hone vs. home. “Hone” means to make more accurate; “home” means to aim toward a target with greater accuracy.
- How many spaces after a period? One space. Just use one space.
- How do you handle animal pronouns? Refer to animals as “it” unless the relationship is personal or you happen to know the gender.
- I could care less or I couldn’t care less? “I couldn’t care less” means you don’t care; “I could care less” means you do care.
- Imminent vs. eminent vs. immanent. “Imminent” means something’s about to happen; “eminent” describes a person (or thing) that is famous and/or respected; and “immanent” means inherent, intrinsic, or spread throughout.
- Into vs. in to. “Into” is a preposition that expresses movement toward or into something else. Meanwhile, “in to” is a separate use of the word “in” that happens to be next to the word “to.”
- Is “none” singular or plural? “None” can be either singular or plural.
- Its vs. it’s. “It’s” is a contraction of “it” and “is,” while “its” is an adjective or possessive pronoun (basically whenever it can’t be replaced by “it is,” it should be “its”).
- Ketchup vs. catsup. They both describe the same condiment, though “ketchup” is currently the more commonly used term.
- Lay vs. lie (vs. laid). It’s too complicated for a short blurb, so check out the graphic below this list.
- Lead vs. lead vs. led. As a noun, “lead” is a type of metal. As a verb, the past tense of “lead” is “led.”
- Leaped vs. leapt (vs. lept). “Leaped” and “leapt” are both acceptable past tense versions of “leap,” but “lept” is a misspelling of “leapt.”
- Leave alone vs. let alone. “Leave alone” means to leave a person alone, while “let alone” means to quit bugging a person. However, it’s becoming more common for people to use “leave alone” in both instances.
- Lets vs. let’s. “Let’s” is a contraction of the words “let” and “us,” and “lets” is the present tense form of the verb “let.”
- Lose vs. loose vs. loosen. “Lose” means to cease to retain something and/or be unable to find something; “loose” means to set free as a verb or describe something that is not fixed as an adjective; and “loosen” is a verb which means to make less tight.
- May vs. might. “May” and “might” mean the same thing, but “may” hints you’re more likely to do it, while “might” signals you’re less likely to follow through.
- Metaphor vs. personification. “Metaphor” is a word or phrase that takes on the meaning of something else (“I am an island”); “personification” is a figure of speech that attributes human behavior to things that are not alive (“the stars winked”).
- More than vs. over. They’re interchangeable.
- OK vs. okay vs. O.K. All versions are okay, but OK is the version most commonly used.
- Oxford comma (or serial comma) and why it’s so cool. When you list out three or more things (like commas, periods, and question marks), use the serial comma to make your lists clear.
- Peak vs. peek vs. pique. “Peek” means to take a look; “peak” is related to the highest point (like a mountain peak); and “pique” is a French word meaning “to stimulate” (as in a new grammar rule piqued my interest).
- People vs. pesons. While most people prefer to use “people” in all situations, “persons” can be used when referring to a smaller group of people (like fewer than 10).
- Pronoun problems: “He/she,” “he or she,” or just “he.” Honestly, it’s a question of style over grammar, since all versions, including the consistent use of “she” is appropriate.
- Prophecy vs. prophesy. “Prophecy” is a noun that means a prediction, while “prophesy” is the verb that means to make a prediction.
- Question mark placement in dialogue. Question marks should always appear at the end of questions (even within sentences) and within quotation marks.
- Raise vs. rise. Both mean the same thing, but a subject “raises” an object while something that “rises” does it on its own.
- Reign vs. rein. “Reign” is a period of time dominated by a ruling power or verb that means one possesses power over someone or something; “rein” is a leather strap used to control a horse (or reindeer).
- Same vs. similar. Both words are similar, but they’re not the same.
- Semantics vs. syntax vs. pragmatics. “Syntax” is the study of sentence structure and grammar rules; “semantics” is the study of meaning for those sentences; and “pragmatics” is the study of meaning within context.
- Semicolon use. Go for it; they’re fun.
- Sight vs. site vs. cite. “Sight” involves your vision; “site” is a location; and “cite” is an act that involves praise, compelling someone to appear before a body, or calling attention to someone or something as proof (as in a report or discussion).
- Simile vs. metaphor. I know we discussed these above (see analogy), but this is a reminder that simile is like something whereas metaphor takes on the identity of something.
- Since vs. because. Both can be used interchangeably, but the use of “since” can get ambiguous if it’s not used in reference to time.
- Slight of hand vs. sleight of hand. “Sleight of hand” refers to manual dexterity, and “slight of hand” refers to small hands.
- Snuck vs. sneaked. Traditionally, “sneaked” is the proper word to use, but “snuck” is sneaking into everyday use. As a result, this may be an actively evolving change in language. Grammarians, prepare yourselves!
- Starting a sentence with “but.” Some folks will tell you it’s improper to start a sentence with a conjunction. But it’s fun and grammatically OK to do it.
- Subjunctive vs. indicative mood (or “if I was” vs. “if I were”). Use indicative mood to express fact (such as “I was editor of Writer’s Market) and subjunctive mood to express a hypothetical wish (such as “If I were the CEO of Fill-in-the-Blank Inc., I would do things my way.”).
- What is the plural form of email? “Email” is what you use in a general sense (like “I get a lot of email”); “emails” is what you use when using numbers (like “I received 17 emails”); and “email messages” works in both situations (so it’s the safe option when in doubt).
- When do I spell out numbers? There are exceptions to the rule, but a sound rule of thumb is to spell out numbers under 10 (zero through nine) and use numeric form when more than (or over) 10.
- Where vs. were vs. wear vs. we’re. “Where” defines a location or position; “were” is a past version of “be;” “wear” is a verb and noun most commonly related to clothing; and “we’re” is a contraction of “we” and “are.”
- Which vs. that. Brian Klems said it best: “If the sentence doesn’t need the clause that the word in question is connecting, use which. If it does, use that.”
- Who vs. whom. If you can replace the word with “he” or “she,” then use “who.” If you can replace the word with “him” or “her,” then use “whom.”
By LINDSAY SCHLEGEL
Despite the vast numbers of new titles published each year, it can be tough to find an author you can confidently come back to again and again, sure that you’re going to devour each of her offerings. For me, this author is Katherine Reay.
Reay’s first novel was published in 2013, and since then, she has published a new classic-literature-infused novel nearly every year. In each of her stories, we meet a contemporary woman (or three) who are looking for purpose and direction, for love and forgiveness, for happiness and stability. Every protagonist has her own battles to fight, but each is relatable and great fun to read.
With titles like Dear Mr. Knightley, Lizzy & Jane, and The Austen Escape, it’s obvious that Reay admires the work of Jane Austen. When I asked her about her inspiration, she told me that when she wrote the first of these, “I was Austen-focused. . . . I had been injured just prior to writing it and found Austen to be my go-to recovery author. It was a natural extension to find that heroine doing the same.”
I probably don’t qualify as a true “Janeite”; I haven’t read everything she’s written (though I have read Pride and Prejudice twice and started on the zombie-infused adaptation). But Reay’s attraction to Austen’s characters and conflicts is still a draw for me. At the root of both Austen’s and Reay’s stories are an understanding of human nature, a willingness to confront weaknesses, and the hope that relationships and internal transformation are possible.
My first encounter with Reay’s novels was with her second book, Lizzy & Jane, which translates themes and characters from Pride and Prejudice into a contemporary story filled with food and family, taking place in the Pacific Northwest. With this novel, Reay broadened her literary allusions to include Hemingway. “What speaks to one person, as a connection point, does not necessarily speak to another,” Reay told me. “So with my [second] story, Lizzy & Jane, I expanded that conversation to Hemingway. His writing informed the hero in that story—and it went on from there.”
If it’s not the Pacific Northwest, it’s Chicago, a delightful Illinois suburb, Italy, or the English countryside. Her novels are like an escape from my own reality, but not in a fashion that has me coming away from the pages feeling my life is lacking in some way. Rather, I find myself more greatly appreciating the place I’m in, the people I get to spend my time with, and the work I do.
Another trademark of Reay’s work is the way she uses a character’s profession to comment on her internal conflict. She explains to me that one of her favorite things about writing is “saying something very specific about a character by the job she does.” For example, “Lizzy [in Lizzy & Jane]is a chef who lost her very relational gift of cooking. Well, she’d lost connection and love long before that. And Emily [in A Portrait of Emily Price] had the heart of an artist, but didn’t risk and take her restoration work that one step more until she let love and beauty into her life. Madeline, in The Printed Letter Bookshop, picked a ‘safe’ career that didn’t hold her heart, and isolated her, until she found a way to love the law and those around her in the book shop.”
In her latest novel—Of Literature and Lattes, published just last month—Reay more directly honors the power of story to inspire and heal. The book is in some ways a sequel to her last novel, The Printed Letter Bookshop, building on those characters and exploring more of their community. At the same time, by introducing new characters and conflicts, it stands as a story on its own. The circumstances are timely, but the emotional experiences of the characters are as timeless as those in the classic stories that maintain their power today.
“Stories are incredibly powerful. Fiction is incredibly powerful,” says Reay. “We let it in through the chinks in our armor in ways that many other people, things, and ideas can’t penetrate. We appropriate stories, live within them, and experience new ideas and emotions while reading them. By calling that out, in many ways, I’m almost hitting the secret on the nose and saying ‘Look here, stories have been here to help you all along’ and, of course I’m always secretly saying, ‘rest here, read, and enjoy.’”
Such a sense of joy and renewal is a rare, but valuable gift. What’s more, I’d venture to say it’s essential to a fully human life, and for this bibliophile, a great help in continuing to become the woman I’m meant to be. TAGS LITERATUREREADINGBOOK RECOMMENDATIONS
Lindsay Schlegel is a writer and editor with experience in all aspects of book publishing, as well as the author of Don’t Forget to Say Thank You: And Other Parenting Lessons That Brought Me Closer to God. She runs, knits, and reads in her native New Jersey, where she lives with her husband and their four children. Connect with Lindsay on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or her website, LindsaySchlegel.com.
Need a kick-start this month ? Here are a few prompts to help get your creative juices flowing.
You’ve decided to submit your manuscript to an independent publisher. Now what? The staff of four indie presses answer WD’s questions about small publishers.
Meet the Staff
A MacDowell Colony and Hawthornden Castle fellow, Leland Cheuk is the author of three books, most recently, No Good Very Bad Asian. His work has appeared in Salon, San Francisco Chronicle, Catapult, Joyland Magazine, Literary Hub, and elsewhere. He is the founder of 7.13 Books and lives in Brooklyn.
Adam Z. Levy is the founder and co-publisher of Transit Books.
Kate Gale is co-founder and managing editor of Red Hen Press, editor of The Los Angeles Review, and teaches in the low-residency MFA program at the University of Nebraska in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction and in the University of Ashland MFA Program. She is author of seven books of poetry, including The Goldilocks Zone (University of New Mexico Press, 2014) and Echo Light (Red Mountain Press, 2014) and six librettos, including Rio de Sangre, a libretto for an opera with composer Don Davis, which had its world premiere October 2010 at the Florentine Opera in Milwaukee.
Jisu Kim is the senior marketing and sales manager at the Feminist Press.
What are some benefits that indie publishing can offer authors?
Cheuk: Due to profit motive and the insistence on scale, the big houses do a poor job on a majority of their titles. Junior publicists are working on dozens of books at a time. It’s very possible that if you publish with a big house, your book will get lost. We all know authors who have had bad experiences with big houses. With indies, you’ll likely get more personalized editorial attention, and an increasing number of indies are doing great marketing and publicity and going toe-to-toe with the overwhelmed big houses. Every year, the prestigious book awards seem to have a few, unexpected indie titles.
Levy: With a carefully curated list, we’re able to devote our time and energy to all of our titles. (No books get lost in the midlist!) We also work closely with our authors and translators at every stage of the publishing process, from the first round of edits to publicity and promotion.
Gale: Independent publishers and their staff are able to dedicate more time and attention to the authors than an author would get from the Big Five. Relationships are fostered, and it’s more of a partnership between author and publisher.
Kim: Indie publishers tend to have smaller lists than the corporate houses; for writers, this often means more individual attention. We like to tell our incoming authors that we’re a small, dedicated team—everyone on staff will have read their book, know them by name, and be familiar with how we’re going to get it out into the world.
What types of manuscripts are ideal for indie publishers? Is there a certain type of book you look for?
Cheuk: It depends on the publisher. I’d advise writers to really read submission guidelines carefully. For 7.13 Books, we publish debut contemporary book-length literary fiction for adults. So if you’re writing a YA book, novella, historical novel, or if this is your second or third book, you’re going to be at a disadvantage because we’re focused on finding books that fit our mission. For many indies, they’re publishing just a few titles a year, so the odds are long to begin with. Why submit outside the guidelines and make your odds even longer?
Levy: We look for singular voices—works that excite and challenge us and deepen our literary and political imagination. We’re open to publishing established and emerging writers. In the end, it always comes back to voice and the quality of the language on the page.
Gale: It depends on the publisher. Red Hen looks for dark, strange, wild books with stories underneath the stories, and novels that are under 300 pages so we can market them to our audience. We’re also interested in looking into more novellas, and we love poetry.
Kim: Every indie publisher is different—that’s what makes them independent—but I would say a strong, unique voice is something everyone is looking for. That can be a debut author or someone with a long publishing history. We work with both across a variety of formats and genres, looking for stories that are different from what’s already been told.
To continue reading this Writer’s Digest article written By Cassandra Lipp click on the link.
J.K. Rowling has a new story to share with its own kind of magic. It’s titled The Ickabog, and to be clear, it has nothing to do with Harry Potter. You can see for yourself by checking out the first two chapters here.
© Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images ‘The Ickabog,’ J.K. Rowling’s latest fantasy story for children, will release new chapters each weekday until July 10. Check out the first two now.
“This is not a Harry Potter spin-off,” Rowling wrote with all-caps and extra emphasis at the start of a 13-tweet thread. Though The Ickabog was written “in fits and starts between Potter books,” Rowling declined to publish it after the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, focusing instead on The Casual Vacancy and The Cuckoo’s Calling (the latter the first of her Cormoran Strike novels written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith).
Like J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, The Ickabog originally served as a bedtime story for Rowling’s children. However, something about the coronavirus lockdown inspired the author to publish it for a general audience.
“A few weeks ago at dinner, I tentatively mooted the idea of getting The Ickabog down from the attic and publishing it for free, for children in lockdown,” Rowling wrote in a blog post introducing the story. “My now teenagers were touchingly enthusiastic, so downstairs came the very dusty box, and for the last few weeks I’ve been immersed in a fictional world I thought I’d never enter again. As I worked to finish the book, I started reading chapters nightly to the family again. This was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my writing life, as The Ickabog’s first two readers told me what they remember from when they were tiny, and demanded the reinstatement of bits they’d particularly liked (I obeyed).”
The first two chapters of The Ickabog available to read now on a specially-designed website, with subsequent chapters to follow on a weekday basis until July 10. They introduce readers to the bountiful land of Cornucopia, ruled by King Fred the Fearless. Though most of Cornucopia is overflowing with delicious food, there’s a more barren area called the Marshlands where people speak of a child-eating monster called the Ickabog. The monster doesn’t officially appear in these first two chapters, but anyone familiar with Rowling’s writing should expect plenty of twists and turns to come.
On top of everything else, Rowling is also soliciting children to create illustrated art for The Ickabog, which will be published in printed edition in November. With each new chapter, Rowling will be releasing suggestions for illustrations tied to that chapter, though she also wants kids to “let your imaginations run wild!”
By Christian Holub for Entertainment ©
Is songwriting much different than writing poetry ? Could you put music to some of your poems ? Get inspired by reading songwriting quotes written by the world ‘s greatest musicians, how they do it and why they do it.
From an article by Alon Cooper
If you ever tried writing songs, this post is going to make you think, and perhaps even give you some inspiration.
I have gathered a bunch of quotes about songwriting and the process of songwriting – so we can have a look on some insights from people who have already “done it” and perhaps soak some inspiration and tips for ourselves from in between those lines. Enjoy!
“Imagination is the key to my lyrics. The rest is painted with a little science fiction.”
“I never sit down to write. When I’m moved, I do it. I just wait for it to come. You just hear it. I can’t really describe writing. It’s in my head. I don’t think about the styles. I write whatever comes out and I use whatever kind of instrumentation that works for those songs.”
“As a songwriter, Gram (Parsons) worked very much like I do, which is to knock out a couple of chords, start to spiel and see how far it can go, rather than sitting around with a piece of paper and a pen, trying to make things fit neatly together. But he would also work very hard, harder than I ever did — on honing it down.”
“I have a structured songwriting process. I start with the music and try to come up with musical ideas, then the melody, then the hook, and the lyrics come last. Some people start with the lyrics first because they know what they want to talk about and they just write a whole bunch of lyrical ideas, but for me the music tells me what to talk about.”
“I wish I were one of those people who wrote songs quickly. But I’m not. So it takes me a great deal of time to find out what the song is”
“I got this cheap little empty plastic notebook at my local drugstore, and bought a little slab of filler paper and the very first title I wrote in it was ‘Proud Mary‘. I had no idea what that title meant. I work hard at that, but the fact that there are a lot of good songs means there are also a lot of really bad songs I’ve written that you’d never hear.”
“I think songwriting is the ultimate form of being able to make anything that happens in your life productive.”
“If you like someone’s work, the important thing is to be exposed to everything that person has been exposed to.”
“I hope that what it comes down to at the end of the day is that people believe that I believe what I’m singing. It comes down to being believable.”
check out more quote’s at Alon’s website at:
One more thing:
These tips are especially useful for INFJs, INFPs, and highly sensitive people—but just about anyone could use them!