Author Advice, Blog Post, Cheat Sheet, Grammar Assistant

Removing these two words from your writing will make it stronger and more concise! #Strong #Verbs #CreatingPerfection #GrammarAssistant #Author #AmWriting #AmEditing

Today’s article is short and sweet.

There are few words in the English language I dislike but I must admit very and really are two I could happily live without.

Using these words before certain verbs can make your writing appear weak and lazy and using two words instead of one can damage your precious word count – so cut them out.

I’ve created a list of the most common examples I find in my work and have put them into a printable download with my suggested stronger verb alternative.

Strong Verbs

I hope this helps and happy writing!

Author Advice, Editing Assistance, Grammar Assistant, Punctuation

#GrammarAssistant #comparative and #superlative forms #AuthorAdvice #Grammar #CreatingPerfection

In today’s article I’m going to talk about comparative and superlative forms.

We use the comparative and superlative forms of adverbs and adjectives to compare people, things, states, and actions in writing.

Adjectives and adverbs have three forms: the positive, the comparative, and the superlative.


Positive Comparative Superlative
Green Greener Greenest
Tall Taller Tallest
Joyful More joyful Most joyful


Positive Comparative Superlative
Fast Faster Fastest
Joyfully More joyfully Most joyfully
Far Further Furthest

Comparative form

The comparative form is used to compare one person, thing, action, or state to another:

Daisies are prettier than roses.

My sister is taller than me.

Our house is noisier than the library.

Superlative form

The superlative form is used to compare one thing to ALL the others in the same category:

This road is the quietest.

My bag is the heaviest.

My rose is the prettiest.

The comparative and superlative are formed differently depending on the word’s positive form:

  • Usually we add the suffixes -er and -est: warm / warmer / warmest
  • When the adjective ends in -e we drop it and add -er and -est: large / larger / largest
  • When the adjective ends in one consonant, double it before adding -er and -est: red / redder / reddest
  • When the adjective ends in -y change it to –i and add -er and -est: juicy / juicier / juiciest
  • If an adverb ends in -ly usually add the words more (comparative form) and most (superlative form): slow / more slowly / most slowly; lazily / most lazily / most lazily
  • Some adjectives use more for the comparative form and most for the superlative: famous / more famous / most famous
  • Some comparative and superlative forms of adjectives and adverbs are irregular: bad / worse / worst; much / more / most; well / better / best

Rules for forming comparatives 

  • One-syllable words form the comparative by adding -er and -est: brave / braver / bravest; small / smaller / smallest; dark / darker / darkest
  • Two-syllable words that end in -y, -le, and -er form the comparative by adding -er and -est: pretty / prettier / prettiest; happy / happier / happiest; noble / nobler / noblest; clever / cleverer / cleverest
  • Words of more than two syllables form the comparative with more and most: beautiful / more beautiful / most beautiful; resonant / more resonant / most resonant
  • Past participles used as adjectives form the comparative with more and most: crooked / broken / damaged / defeated
  • Predicate adjectives (adjectives used to describe the subject of a sentence) form the comparative with more and most: afraid / mute / certain / alone / silent
    Ex. She is afraid / He is more afraid / They are the most afraid of them all

Following these guidelines should help stop abominations like more pretty or beautifuler from making their way into your writing!

And, as always, if in doubt, look up the preferred inflected forms in the dictionary, I find the Oxford English Dictionary Online to be a wonderful resource.

Happy writing!


Author Advice, Editing Assistance, Grammar Assistant, Punctuation

#Punctuation how to use #dashes and #ellipses in your writing #AmWriting #AmEditing #Authors #Writers #Writing

In today’s article I’m going to look at the use of ellipses […] and dashes [-/–/—] in fiction writing.


An ellipsis is a glyph made up of three full points … which is used to indicate omitted words, pauses in speech, and unfinished thoughts. If you type three full points, most word processing programmes will autocorrect them to a single glyph.

When used in sentences, the ellipsis has a space on either side and no other punctuation is needed:

‘I tried I really tried.

‘I was under the impression didn’t you start that last week?’

When used to indicate unfinished thoughts, a space is only required in front of the ellipsis:

‘I could have sworn I

Or to build tension:

The door opened slowly

When a sentence should end with an exclamation or question mark, they are included at the end of the ellipsis:

‘Didn’t you just ask for one …?

She couldn’t even reach the top …!

A comma isn’t required before or after an ellipsis.

An ellipsis can also be used in place of etc. when the reader is expected to infer to rest of a sequence or list:

We needed lots of vegetables; potatoes, leeks, carrots, onions


There are three dashes in the punctuation world, the hyphen [-], the en dash [–], and the em dash [—].

The hyphen is typically used in compound words, numbers, prefixes, and suffixes:

The north-westerly wind was strong today.

My mother-in-law is a nightmare!

If the compound words precede the noun, they are hyphenated:

I have the up-to-date records.

But not if the noun appears first:

The records are up to date.

Nor if the first word of the compound is an adverb:

The newly married couple not the newly-married couple.

When spelling out numbers:

It was her twenty-first birthday.

Prefixes when there is a risk of collision of letters:

I needed to re-enter the room.

Her number is ex-directory.

Suffixes when the word already ends in double l:

She found a shell-like rock on the beach.

En rule/dash

Most British publishers use the en dash in place of the brackets () and a space is required on each side:

We were travelling – in the clapped out car – all night.

Em rule/dash

Most British publishers use the em dash to indicate interrupted dialogue:

‘I said I wanted to g—

‘I don’t care what you said!’ He interrupted.

I do hope these tips help you with your writing!

Have a great day x

Author Advice, Grammar Assistant, Punctuation

#Punctuation how to use colons and semicolons in your #fiction #writing #amwriting #amediting #authors #CreatingPerfection #authoradvice

In this article, I will talk about how to use the colon [:] and semicolon [;] correctly in your writing.

A semicolon is used to separate two or more strongly related main clauses that could stand as sentences in their own right.

It was spring; the trees were beginning to blossom.

It is not correct to join sentences like this with a comma. This is a common mistake known as a comma splice.

Semicolons are also used for balancing two pieces of information.

Wendy drives a BMW; Emma drives a Fiat.

They can also be used to join two clauses instead of a conjunction.

I love ice cream because it’s so cool on a hot day.

I love ice cream; it’s so cool on a hot day.

A semicolon should only be used if the sentences it divides make sense in their own right. ‘I love ice cream’ and ‘It’s so cool on a hot day’ can both stand as independent sentences.

If the second part of the sentence adds information but could not stand on its own, a colon should be used instead.

There’s only one flavour of ice cream worth eating: strawberry.

A semicolon can also be used to separate items in a list when phrases are used.

I need to buy some soup, tomato not chicken; milk, semi-skimmed not full fat; doughnuts, strawberry jam; and some bread.

If the list contains only short words, a comma will suffice.

I need soup, milk, doughnuts, and bread.


Are typically used to add information, so the second part explains the second part.

That was easy: the questions were all level two.

In this example though you could also use a full stop or a conjunction.

That was easy. The questions were all at level two.

That was easy because all the questions were all at level two.

Using a comma for the above would result in a comma splice which is wrong.

When using to introduce a list, only use a colon if the introduction makes sense on its own.

Please bring with you: a pencil, ruler, protractor, and eraser.

We also use colons to introduce quotes.

My mum had a favourite saying: ‘If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.’

As with the semicolon, only use the colon if the first part would stand as a sentence on its own. ‘My mum used to say’ doesn’t make sense on its own so a comma would be used.

My mum used to say, ‘If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.’

I hope this helps to clarify the use of each for you.

Have a wonderful day and keep writing!

Author Advice, Case Study, Self-Publishing Author Case Study

#IndieAuthor Lee Sherred joins me to share his #selfpublishing journey ~ @LeeSherredAutho #AmEditing #AmWriting #CreatingPerfection

I have Lee Sherred joining me today to share his self-publishing journey!

Hi Lee, could you tell us who are you and when your journey began?

Lee Sherred, I’m a former British soldier and police officer and my writing journey probably only really began at the beginning of 2016 when I was injured on duty (although I’d considered writing on a number of occasions over the years before but, for one reason or another, I never took the next step).

Tell us about where you are on your self-publishing journey right now in terms of books published, where you publish, etc.

I currently have one book published through KDP, Lines of Justice: Azdaja, which was published in June 2017 and it’s the first in a series of dark thrillers I’m working on. It’s also available in paperback through Amazon, something I delayed doing for quite some time. I’m currently working on the next in the series which, I hope, will be in some semblance of order in time to publish in the next few months (I’m still undecided on a cover or title at present).

Why did you choose to self-publish?

Simply because I had no idea of how the industry worked (I’m still finding my feet now). I went into this, more or less, totally blind. I’m certainly not an academic and I have zero writing pedigree or experience. I chose to self-publish because it seemed to be the most easily reached, obtainable rung on the writing ladder for me at the time.

What’s the best thing about self-publishing?

Probably not having to meet strict deadlines. I still work a full-time job at the same time as writing so real life often throws a spanner in the works for me. Committing to the strict deadlines required by a traditional publisher isn’t achievable … at the moment.

And the worst?

Erm … also, not having deadlines to meet. I find that I can get easily distracted and fall into the “put it off until tomorrow” frame of mind because there’s no one badgering me for the finished product. That and marketing I guess.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known before you published your first book?

That actually writing the book is the easy part, getting people to want to read it is much harder! Had I known that at the time, I would’ve probably started marketing myself and my first book long before it was ready to be published. I had zero online presence as a writer until I was finished, which in my opinion now was too late.

If you could change one thing about your self-publishing journey, what would it be and why?

I wish I’d joined some of the Facebook groups earlier. The whole process has been a steep learning curve for me, especially after publishing in June last year. A lot of that could’ve been researched and learnt before publishing.

Do you have any advice for those who might be looking in to self-publishing?

Only as above really, join some of the writing groups early because there’s a wealth of useful knowledge and information in them and, if not, then there’s always someone to ask if you have a problem or query.

Thanks so much for sharing your journey with us all, Lee! You can keep up with Lee’s news by following his social media accounts: Lines of Justice: Aždaja

Lee’s debut is out now, here’s the blurb … 

Lines of Justice: Aždaja by [Sherred, Lee]

Bound by honour. Driven by revenge. Two men with a score to settle.

Kosovo, 1999:
Sgt Dean Samson and his team of British soldiers are well aware of the dangers they’ll face and the things they’ll see in a country that has suffered years of oppression and ethnic cleansing. But nothing could have prepared them for Aždaja, a sadistic, mythical, serial killer with a penchant for vile humiliation and unimaginable torture.

Present day:
Since leaving the Army, Samson now a Police Officer, has struggled to erase his darkest memories of Kosovo. When he receives a devastating medical diagnosis, his nightmares come flooding to the surface, forcing him to face up to what he did….and what he didn’t do. With nothing to lose and no one to stop him, he’s at a crossroads. But is he prepared for what lies in wait? Will the horrors of Kosovo return with a vengeance?

You can get your copy over at Amazon now:

If you’re an indie author and you’d like to share your journey, click here.

About Lee … 

Lee Sherred

Author Lee Sherred has led a full life that, in many ways, rivals those of the heroes and anti-heroes he creates. A skilled martial artist, fighter, British Soldier and Police Officer, Lee has amassed a wealth of knowledge in many areas.

A lifelong reader, Lee knew long ago that he’d one day pen his own novels. After a long career serving his country, a significant injury left him with unexpected and unwanted downtime. For the first time in his life he finally found the motivation to put pen to paper, turning his firsthand experiences into absorbingly dark and humorous stories that readers will love.

When not writing, Lee can be found at his home on the South Coast of England, enjoying family time with his wife, kids and a trio of unruly family pets.


Author Advice, Editing Assistance, Grammar Assistant, Manuscript, Publication Ready, Punctuation

#Punctuation #Apostrophe use in #fiction #writing #amwriting #amediting #CreatingPerfection

One of the most commonly misused punctuation marks is the apostrophe.

In this article I’ll be talking about, and sharing examples of, how to correctly use one.


In writing, we use ‘s to show possession after singular nouns and indefinite pronouns:

the girl’s hair the man’s beard anyone’s guess

For plural nouns ending in s, we just add the apostrophe:

the neighbours’ cat

And we punctuate time periods in the same way:

the days’ takings three weeks’ time

For compounds and of phrases, use ‘s after the last noun:

my mother-in-law’s cake the Queen of England’s swans

The double possessive making use of both of and ‘s can be used with nouns and pronouns:

a play of Shakespeare’s that car of her father’s

But not with buildings or companies:

a friend of the Smiling Mule the window of the hotel

This one’s a little tricky to remember but we don’t use an apostrophe for the possessive its (belonging to it) but we do for the it contractions (it is / it has):

the dog ate its bone it’s too warm today


The apostrophe is also used to indicate a missing letter or letters from a word. The apostrophe should ‘face’ the way the missing letters should be:

how you doin’ just you wait ’til


The apostrophe is NOT used for plurals. Nor is it used for the following:

Decades: 1960s / 60s

Names: keeping up with the Joneses / sixteen Hail Marys

Abbreviations: CDs / ABCs / DVDs

Other: dos and don’ts

These are just a few of the basics and if you learn these rules, you’ll be in a much better position to polish your own manuscript while going through your edits.

I follow the Oxford Style Guide and you can find more information in New Hart’s Rules.

Best of luck, have a great day, and keep writing!

Author Advice, Case Study, Self-Publishing Author Case Study

Isabella Muir joins me to share her #selfpublishing journey ~@SussexMysteries #Sussex #CrimeMysteries #indieauthor #selfpub #amwriting #amediting #CreatingPerfection

It’s been a while since I last featured a self published author case study so I’m delighted to have Isabella Muir share her journey with me today.

Thanks for joining me, Isabella, could you introduce yourself and tell us when your journey began?

I am Isabella Muir and my writing journey began in earnest about four years ago when I completed my MA in Professional Writing

Tell us about where you are on your self-publishing journey right now in terms of books published, where you publish, etc.

Towards the end of last year, I published two novels and I have just completed the first draft of the third in the same series. My novels are in the crime/mystery genre, set in the last 1960s in Sussex.

Why did you choose to self-publish?

I love the independence it gives you.

What’s the best thing about self-publishing?

As an indie author I get to determine my own timescale for publication, my cover design, title and author name and price. I can also decide which routes I take to market – e.g., eBook, print, audio, etc

And the worst?

The hardest part for me is the marketing! I love to write but am not very good at telling everyone about my books, which means there are bound to be readers out there who would like my books, but who don’t know about them.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known before you published your first book?

This is a tricky one to answer! I see my writing journey as an apprenticeship. I think that with each novel I write I am honing my style.

If you could change one thing about your self-publishing journey, what would it be and why?

I’ve loved it all so far, so I don’t think there is much I would change, except maybe to have free access to some excellent marketing guru!

Do you have any advice for those who might be looking in to self-publishing?

Create a support network. This might be one or two close writing buddies, or a larger group of writers. It’s great to have at least one person to share with as writing can be an isolating pursuit. And keep reading! That might be novels in the same genre, or other genres. Also, there is a mass of great advice on the internet for the indie author – writing tips, blog posts, podcasts – reading about other people’s experiences will help you avoid some of the pitfalls early on.

You can keep up with Isabel’s news by following her social media accounts:

My website is at:

My Amazon author profile is at:

I am also on Facebook:

And on Twitter at: @SussexMysteries

The Tapestry Bag is the first in her new #SussexCrimeMysteries series featuring mobile librarian, Janie Juke … Here’s the blurb …

The Tapestry Bag: A Sussex crime, full of twists and turns (A Janie Juke mystery Book 1) by [Muir, Isabella]

A young woman, Zara, goes missing, one year to the day that her boyfriend, Joel, was killed in a hit and run. Is Zara in danger? Is she still alive? What really happened to Joel and who is to blame?

In the quiet seaside town of Tamarisk Bay, the police appear to be doing little to find Zara. Her friend Janie decides to make it her mission to track her down. It’s the ‘swinging sixties’ and Janie fears that Zara may be mixed up with drugs, alcohol, or worse. As Janie explores the strange circumstances of Zara’s disappearance, she starts to question the truth about Joel’s death.

Janie runs the mobile library and has a passion for crime fiction, especially Agatha Christie. Can Poirot help Janie solve the mystery of Zara’s disappearance?

As she looks for clues she comes across some unsavoury characters who each have a reason for wanting Joel dead. Can Janie untangle the web of lies and find out the truth?

I LOVE the sound of this one! If you do too, pop over to Amazon and grab your copy, it’s ONLY 99p!!!

Thanks so much for sharing your journey with me today, Isabella, I wish you all the success in the future and I’ll be keeping my eye on this series!

If you’re an indie-author and you’d like to share your journey, click here!

About Isabella … 

Isabella Muir

Isabella Muir is the author of Janie Juke series of crime mysteries – all set in Sussex. ‘The Tapestry Bag’ is the first in the series, followed by ‘Lost Property’. Now – ‘The Invisible Case’ – the latest in the series is available for pre-order from Amazon. The ‘Janie Juke mysteries’ are set in Sussex in the sixties and seventies and feature a young librarian with a passion for Agatha Christie. All that Janie has learned from her hero, Hercule Poirot, she is able to put into action as she sets off to solve a series of crimes and mysteries. Isabella has also published ‘Ivory Vellum’ – a collection of short stories. She has been surrounded by books her whole life and – after working for twenty years as a technical editor and having successfully completed her MA in Professional Writing – she was inspired to focus on fiction writing. Aside from books, Isabella has a love of all things caravan-like. She has spent many winters caravanning in Europe and now, together with her husband, she runs a small caravan site in Sussex. They are ably assisted by their much-loved Scottie, Hamish.

Author Advice, Beta Reading, Editing Assistance, Manuscript, Publication

Here’s my top tips and advice on finding the right editor for you and your manuscript. Make sure you know what you need and what they can offer #CreatingPerfection #WritingCommunity

In today’s article, I’m going to talk about the different levels of editing available and how an author should decide which they need.

First, let’s look at the different levels of editing available.

There’s a detailed breakdown here but here’s an overview:

Structural/Developmental Editor: Will look at the big picture elements of your manuscript. Plot, characterisation, point of view, pace, and narrative.

Line Editor: Sentence level elements including: word choice, clarity, consistency, conciseness, dialogue, grammar, and syntax.

Copy-editor: Sentence and word level elements including: paragraphs, dialogue, spelling and punctuation, consistency in minor plot/character details, and clarity.

Proofreader: Sentence, word, and layout: basic formatting, dialogue punctuation, chapter sequencing, and indentation.

Many freelance editors will offer one or two of these services, and will perhaps combine two of them, but I’ve yet to meet any who offer all four levels. Typically, a line and copy-edit can be combined, and maybe a copy-edit and proofread, but a developmental/structural edit should be done on its own.

Now let’s look at some of the areas an author may find they’re struggling with:

  1. Punctuation
  2. Overwriting – too wordy
  3. Characterisation
  4. Grammar
  5. Plot development
  6. Narrative point of view/head hopping
  7. Consistency in formatting and layout

The type of editor you need will depend on the issues you have, using the examples above, here’s who you’d need to call on to help:

  1. Line Editor / Copy-editor / Proofreader
  2. Line Editor
  3. Developmental/Structural Editor
  4. Line Editor / Copy-editor
  5. Developmental/Structural Editor
  6. Developmental/Structural Editor / Line Editor
  7. Line Editor / Copy-editor / Proofreader

As you can see, not all editors specialise in all areas and you need to find out what any editor you approach offers.

‘What if I don’t know what my problems are?’

It’s easy for someone in the business to say you need A, B, but not C, but that doesn’t always help the author if they don’t yet know what their sticking points are, after all, you can’t mend something if you don’t know it’s broken. A tiny gap and huge hole are very different things.

Consider this; an author skips a copy-edit as they’ve been told it’s the big picture elements that matter most, not a few typos. But what if it’s not a few typos? What if the novel has a wonderful and captivating plot, is beautifully paced, and full of characters their readers instantly fall in love with, but on a line level, it’s so full of spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes all the good stuff is lost inside and it’s too unpleasant to read?

Or, on the flip side, the author has been meticulous with their line level editing and proofreading, the sentences flow with no spelling, punctuation, or grammatical mishaps but the characters are one dimensional, there are plot holes galore, and the reader is left with nothing but unanswered questions.

It’s such a minefield for authors, especially newbies. The best advice is to find some beta readers you can trust to provide honest and constructive feedback, or have a professional critique done on your manuscript.

There’s also the possibility that a sample edit from a freelancer will help shed some light on where you may need assistance.

So, how do you know when you’re ready?

I love how Jane Friedman explains it:

[N]ever hire a copy-editor until you’re confident your book doesn’t require a higher level of editing first. That would be like painting the walls of your house right before tearing them down. (‘Should You Hire a Professional Editor?‘)

This is such a brilliant way to look at the editing process. There’s no point in having all the typos dealt with if your plot and characters aren’t doing what your reader needs them to do.

Therefore, there is a specific process, and it’s not based on importance but on logic.

Start your editing process with the big picture elements. Whether a professional critique or feedback from trusted beta readers, get all the structural elements in place. If no issues are found, brilliant, if there are mishaps, that’s great too as you can deal with them, either yourself or with a professional, before they are brought up in reader reviews.

Once you have the big picture elements sorted, you can look at the line and sentence level mishaps. I would always recommend an author employs a professional at this stage as although they may not be a specialist in the big picture elements, they will know if things are amiss.

They will guide you to getting your work into great shape and will advise if there are further needs.

I offer two main services, the Big Difference Edit which combines line and copy-editing, and Little Tweaks Proofread which combines copy-editing and proofreading. I also work with authors on a Step by Step and Consultancy basis

Your copy/line editor should be able to pick up other elements relating to the proofreading, but don’t expect miracles. They aren’t Superman and at this stage, there are likely to be more revisions to the manuscript during which further mishaps can be introduced. For more on this, read here.

Remember: Your editor, at any stage in the process, isn’t a ghost writer. As literary agent Rachelle Gardner explains:

Using a freelance editor can be a great idea – if you use it as a learning experience. You need to do most of the work yourself. I think it’s wasted money if you’re counting on someone to fix your manuscript for you. The point is to get an experienced set of eyes on it to help you identify problems and figure out how to fix them. (‘Should I Hire a Freelance Editor?‘)

There’s no doubt you need to have at least one professional editing pass on your manuscript. As this poem by Anon shows, we cannot rely on a spell checker:

Eye halve a spelling chequer

It came with my pea sea

It plainly marques four my revue

Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a quay and type a word

And weight for it two say

Weather eye am wrong oar write

It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid

It nose bee fore two long

And eye can put the error rite

Its really eve wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it

I am shore your pleased two no

Its letter perfect in its weigh

My chequer tolled me sew.

(Sauce unknown)

As you can see, there are many mistakes which won’t be picked by standard spelling checkers as they are only checking for incorrect spellings.

So, what now?

You know you need an editor, but how do you find one you can trust?

Word of mouth is the first place to start. Ask in the writer groups you belong to, (if you’re not in any groups, but would like to be, let me know and I’ll guide to some brilliant groups) who do other people use? If you’re not in any groups yet, you’re left with Google. There are many search terms you can use: freelance copy-editor/proofreader for example, this will bring up lots of pages for jobs and companies who offer these services but scroll through a few pages and you’ll eventually start to see the freelancers.

Always speak to more than one editor, and to help you determine they know what they’re doing,

here’s what they should be asking you:

  • What genre is your manuscript?
  • Have you already identified any problematic areas?
  • What are your publishing aims? (Self-publishing/submitting/time frame etc.)
  • What stage are you at with the manuscript? (has it already been looked at by a professional/beta readers?)
  • Where are you on your journey as an author?
  • Do you have a deadline for this?

here’s what you should be asking them:

  • What levels do they specialise in?
  • Do they have experience in your genre?
  • What style guide do they follow? (I follow the Oxford Style Guide)
  • Do they have references and testimonials?
  • What books have they edited?
  • Have they worked with indie authors before? Publishers?
  • If they are American, can they edit to British English style guides? And vice versa.
  • What are their costs and payment terms?
  • What timescales can you expect?
  • Do they offer a free or paid for sample edit?

Any editor worth their salt will be able to answer those questions for you. If they can’t, I’d be tempted to move on to the next person on your list. Full transparency at this stage is vital, you don’t want to end up in a position where you choose your editor, get your heart set on them, only to discover they charge twice as much as your budget will allow and aren’t free for a year.

So, there you have it.

You are now able to make a fully informed decision on which editor you need, you understand the roles played by both the author and the editor, and that full transparency by both parties can, and will, lead to a wonderful working relationship.

If you’d like to have a chat with me about your project and my services, please do drop me line, I’d love to hear from you.

Best of luck with your project!

Author Advice, Cheat Sheet, Editing Assistance, Grammar Assistant, Manuscript

Formatting dialogue in fiction writing #dialogue #fiction #amwriting #amediting #authors #advice #grammar #punctuation #indieauthor #selfpub

One of the most confusing elements of writing dialogue is how to format and punctuate it properly.

There are so many perceived rules and regulations it can become a nightmare for authors to remember what to do and when.

I’ve broken it down into three simple steps:

  1. Every new speaker needs a new paragraph
  2. What the character says stays on the same line/paragraph as what they do
  3. Only use a comma if the dialogue is followed by a tag, otherwise, use a full stop, question mark, or exclamation mark

Easy! Look:

Emma and Paul were watching TV. ‘Come on,’ Emma said.


‘Let’s go to the pub.’ She grabbed his hand to pull him off the sofa.

‘I’m not sure I’m in the mood,’ Paul said. ‘Shall we go tomorrow instead?’

Only the words spoken and punctuation marks are placed inside the quotation marks. Other parts of the sentence – dialogue tags, actions, and thoughts – go outside the quotation marks.

Dialogue always starts with a capital letter, regardless as to its place in the sentence, although interrupted speech is lower case when it resumes – see the later examples.

Next I’ll show you the most used combinations of speech, tag, and action with their correct format and punctuation. There’s a printable version of this list so you can keep it to hand.

One line of dialogue with no tag: the whole sentence, including punctuation, is enclosed in the quotation marks:

‘I love you.’

One line of dialogue with tag: The dialogue is enclosed in the quotation marks with a comma within them. As the tag, he said, is part of the sentence, it is not capitalised. The full stop ends the sentence:

‘I love you,’ he said.

One line of dialogue with tag first: The comma is still needed to separate the speech from the tag but comes first in this instance and the full stop ends the sentence within the quotation marks:

He said, ‘I love you.’

One line of dialogue with tag and action: The dialogue is enclosed in quotation marks, a comma follows the dialogue and before the closing quotation mark, this is followed by the tag which is separated from the action by a further comma. A full stop ends the sentence:

‘I love you,’ he said, hoping she had heard him.

The tag and action can come first:

Moving closer, he said, ‘I love you.’

Tag interrupted dialogue: The same sentence of dialogue can be interrupted by a tag and an action:

‘I love you,’ he said, ‘and I always will.’

‘I love you,’ he said, pulling her close, ‘and I always will.’

Question marks in dialogue: The question mark goes inside the quotation mark and there is no comma. The tag doesn’t need a capital letter as it is still part of the same sentence, the same goes for exclamation marks:

‘You know I love you, don’t you?’ he asked.

‘I love you!’ he shouted, running after her.

Dialogue interrupted by dialogue: If a character interrupts another midsentence, an em dash is used:

‘I love you—’

‘No, Paul, you don’t.’ She held up her hand to stop him continuing.

Trailing dialogue: If a character starts to say something but the speech trails off before they complete the sentence, ellipses are used:

‘I love …’

Names in dialogue: always use a comma before and/or after the person’s name who is being directly addressed:

‘I love you, Emma,’ he said.

‘Emma, I love you,’ he said.

‘Paul loves you, Emma, you know that.’

‘He loves you, Emma, more than he loved Sarah.’ (note there is no comma before Sarah as she isn’t being directly addressed).

This may seem complicated at times but following these ‘rules’ will make your dialogue punctuation and formatting correct 99.9% of the time. There are other combinations, for example, paragraphs and longer speeches, but I’ll keep it simple today and share the others with you at a later date.

You can download a copy of these examples by clicking here: Creating Perfection – Formatting Dialogue – Print Out

I hope this helps and do let me know if you have any questions.

Have a super day, keep writing!

Author Advice, Case Study, Editing Assistance, Self-Publishing Author Case Study

#IndieAuthor Trevor Lince joins me to share his #SelfPublishing Journey @Room119tflince #CaseStudy #IndiePub #AmWriting #AmEditing #Writing

I’m shining the spotlight on indie author Trevor Lince today.

Who are you and when did your journey begin?

I’m Trevor Lince and believe it or not I have only ever read eleven books in my life. About three years ago I had a series of dreams and after banging on about them over dinner to anyone who would listen, in Jan 2017, I decided to write a novel.

Tell us about where you are on your self-publishing journey right now in terms of books published, where you publish, etc.

Published Room 119 in December 2017. The Funicular is almost done should be out by June.

Why did you choose to self-publish?

Did I have another choice? To be honest, I have a good job so a spare time thing really which appears to have taken over my life.

What’s the best thing about self-publishing?

Freedom and making your own calls.

And the worst?

The constant self-promotion on social media to even get one sale.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known before you published your first book?

Great question, I would have done lots different not the book, but I would have been a lot more active before the launch and had a bigger social media presence takes ages, growing now though.

If you could change one thing about your self-publishing journey, what would it be and why?

Nothing really, better description and subtitle to use keywords to target amazon searches I suppose.

Do you have any advice for those who might be looking in to self-publishing?

Maybe a bit about getting reviews, look after your bloggers and get on fab sites. And interact, people like you to join in their stuff too. It’s not all about you.

Nothing more, really. I quite enjoyed it … I am an IT geek though.

You can keep up with Trevor’s news by following his social media accounts:

Twitter @room119tflince

Huge thanks for joining me, Trevor! Best of luck with the rest of your journey.

If you’re an indie author and you’d like to share your journey, follow this link.

Trevor’s debut novel, Room 119 is out now, here’s the blurb …

Room 119: The Whitby Trader: A Gripping Mystery Thriller by [Lince, T F]

High-flying trader Dean Harrison has it all – the London penthouse apartment; the fast car; the beautiful wife. But when the threads of Dean’s life start to unravel, they do so with alarming speed.

Following the advice of a frail stranger, Dean sets off for Welnetham Hall Hotel and is plunged into the mysterious world of Room 119 – a world where nothing makes sense. How does everyone in the hotel know his name? Why does he travel there on a train line that shut down over fifty years ago? And who is the sinister man in black who pursues him wherever he goes?

As he gradually pieces together the puzzle of Welnetham Hall, Dean is forced to re-evaluate his life and realises that nothing is more important to him than his wife and daughter. Desperate to get back to them, he vows he would lay down his life for the people he loves.

It’s a promise he may have to keep.

About the author …

Trev Lince originates from Marske-by-the-Sea on the north-east coast of England, but now lives in Darlington with his wife, Claire. Their daughter, Annie, is a very good guitarist and is setting up a band, playing every pub in the north-east that she can. She’s so rock and roll, living the dream while her father is approaching his mid-life crisis. A keen golfer and frustrated Middlesbrough FC fan, Trev gets to as many matches as work and leisure time allow. He writes in what little spare time he has, when not working as an IT Consultant for a major oil company in Surrey. Room 119 – The Whitby Trader is Trev’s first book and he really enjoyed the experience of writing it. Who knows? He may have a few more stories bursting to get out of his head. He would like to thank you for reading his debut novel.