I love that this is my first blog here as an editor! I am so excited I can barely sit still! What shall I discuss that will make you hang on my every word? Hmmm. Plan B. Things our prospective authors need to know.  Yes, that sounds like a better plan to me for this week.

Editors talk about submitting your best work. Do you wonder what they mean? A great story but riddled with errors? I doubt that. A story that is about your own style that others might not understand? I doubt that, too.

My authors should send me clean manuscripts. (Since you’ll be emailing them, I’m not referring to coffee stains and food smears.) Read carefully and make sure I can see your pride in your craft.

Take time to proof  for wrong words, typos, and omitted or duplicated words. Check grammar and punctuation, even if you need to go to the websites I added at the bottom of this blog and read through rules.  There ARE rules in grammar and punctuation.

Read your story and make sure you set each scene in some way. Tossing me into scenes might just confuse me.  I don’t enjoy being confused. Keep in mind that I can’t read your mind, so you need to let me know stuff. If you tell me your character can’t believe a May day in Georgia could be so cold, I have ideas about where and when the scene takes place.

Be prepared to go back and edit your own work, using my suggestions, if I see big problems in the beginning.  I will edit your story once we contract it, and I will do my best to make sure your story and characters shine the way we both want them to. I won’t rewrite your story for you, though.

Remember that if I take your story to our committee, I will need to love it and make the others love it. Give me the ammunition I need.  If I don’t love your story and pretty much everything about it, I won’t be able to sell it, and I will either send it to an editor I think might love it or send you a rejection with an explanation.

One helpful blog with rules for grammar and punctuation for fiction writers and a helpful newsletter and website. 

Words folks often misuse

All ready means all are readyExample: We were all ready to strangle him.
Already refers to timeExample: Is it night already?
All together refers to a group; all of us or all of them togetherExample: It is important to be all together for Christmas.
Altogether means entirelyExample: The accident was not altogether my fault.
Assure to promise or say with confidence
Ensure to make sure something will/won’t happen
Insure to issue an insurance policy

About commas antecedent-pronoun agreement.

Which of the sentences below is correct? Watch comments for the answer.

The boys in my class ate the girls’ lunches, and then ran outside.

The boys in my class ate the girls’ lunch and then ran outside.

The boys on my class ate the girls’ lunches and then ran outside.



Filed under Uncategorized


  1. Mary, so glad you’re blogging about this – I think proper grammar has become a moving target! I know commas always trip me up, since I try to put a comma in wherever I take a breath – and that’s not always the right place to put them. My choice of the three sentences above would be the middle one, since there are two complete thoughts with an ‘and’ in between. If the ‘and’ wasn’t there, I would have put a comma after lunch.
    How far off am I?


  2. Mary, a post after my own heart. Thanks for giving us clues to help writers send better manuscripts…We’d love to get them. We want to publish them. Great stories, great books, great authors. We know you’re out there…Come and play in our park.


  3. You are welcome, Nancy. I love to talk grammar, too! (Mary is rubbing her hands with glee.) I especially enjoy finding the ways to make a good manuscript shine even more!


  4. MM and I are critique partners, so I am always looking for something to tag. She finds tons of things in my work and I mostly find typos in hers. Well, guess what! I found one. The last sentence has a typo. It should read “The boys in my class…” See how easy it is for a typo to slip by because spell check missed the typo because it created a real word?


  5. The boys in my class ate the girls’ lunches and then ran outside.
    Boys ate girls’ lunches
    plural boys, girls’, and lunches. Girls’ is possessive.
    No , before and 2 verbs, not clauses,


  6. Mary, love the lesson. Everyone benefits from a mini grammar lesson with their coffee in the morning.


  7. Jackie Rod

    Mary, thanks for the grammar tips and a cool blog. My favorite comment–“I can make a good manuscript better.” How true!!


    • Thanks for the comment, Jackie! I love adding shine to a manuscript and using my reading experience to find what is missing. (In case anyone wants to know, 2 verbs, adding and using. No comma needed.)


  8. Having you on the Gilded Dragonfly team, Mary, is like having an English Handbook in our pocket. Your grammar tips will help all our authors!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s