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It has been quite a while since I wrote a post for the website, so apologies for neglecting you all. It has just been a busy year. I’ve had a fabulous time working on all the various short stories, novels and non-fiction pieces of work this year, in every genre from fantasy to memoir, science fiction to inspirational non-fiction.
However, we are at that time of year again, one week from NaNoWriMo. Now, if you haven’t heard of NaNoWriMo, here’s your chance. Join tens of thousands of other writers, possibly hundreds of thousands, in a 30-day challenge to write 50K words. That’s only 1,666 words per day. Yes, I know, I said ‘only’!
Anyway, several of my clients have done this and have produced novels from it, and some have repeated it each year. Now it’s my turn to join them! With the proofreading and editing business going so well, I figured it was the only way I was going to manage to write another novel! So, I am still outlining at the minute, but come 1 Nov, I will be poised like my peers to get that word count up. (I love that NaNoWriMo lets you input your word count – motivational!)
So, I was wondering if any of you are participating this year. If so, feel free to add me as a buddy on the NaNo site. I am under soozbuch. And here’s the NaNo site – https://nanowrimo.org/
For now, all that remains is for me to reblog my tips from last year on NaNoWriMo – check out the article below
Top 10 Tips for #NaNoWriMo – An Editor’s Perspective by @perfect_prose #MondayBlogs
And good luck fellow NaNoWriMoers!!
Italics, “Quotation Marks” or CAPITALS? Have you wiped the sweat off your brow yet?
It’s a minefield – truly. As with most things in writing, one of the most important rules is to be consistent. Often there isn’t only one way – as a future post on ellipses and suspension points (to laymen – the 3 dots) will show.
But for today, we’re talking about italics. And the reason I’ve lumped quotation marks and capitals into the name of this post is because if you aren’t meant to use italics, apart from when you are using them for emphasis, you could well be using capitals or quotation marks.
Fact! Most people tend to overuse all three.
But when should you use italics? Did you like what I did there?
Well, I’ve already mentioned their usage for emphasis, although your prose (company plug!) should mainly be able to carry that off on its own, although not always.
Many writers, at least those who go to the effort of checking, frantically look up ‘italics’ on Google along with the item they are searching for, or they pick up a reference or grammar book when they are at the editing stage, just to be sure. I don’t blame them. In many cases there is more than one right answer. However, I tend to go with the New Oxford Style Manual for British English and The Chicago Manual of Style for US English. Even they don’t cover every eventuality.
But, I digress; let’s look at some examples of where italics should be used as per best practice.
This list is not exhaustive:
- titles of books and magazines – Far From The Madding Crowd, Catch-22, Hard Times, Vogue
- film titles – Dirty Dancing, Armageddon, Jaws
- names of ships, aircraft, spacecraft and trains – HMS Beagle, Air Force One, Challenger, the Hogwarts Express
- music album titles – Up To Now, Achtung Baby, Rattle and Hum
- orchestral works – Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Bach’s Violin Concerto in E Major
- operatic works – Madama Butterfly, Turandot
- paintings – Mona Lisa, The Creation of Adam, Starry Night
- foreign words and phrases which haven’t been absorbed into the English language (my take on this is if it doesn’t appear in the Oxford English Dictionary, it goes in italics). But there’s a caveat – more on that later. Me llamo Susan. Non trovo la casa.
- titles of plays – A Streetcar Named Desire, The Taming of The Shrew
But be careful not to put punctuation in italics unless it forms part of the title of the work/item. So those pesky commas, full stops and question marks afterwards should be in roman type.
Talking of roman type, if you want to emphasise something which is already in italics, perhaps for one of the above reasons, then the way to do that is to put the part to be emphasised in roman type. Alternatively this can sometimes be conveyed by being put within quotation marks. Do you see now how difficult it is to talk about italics without talking about other punctuation types too?
And here are a couple of examples where italics are generally not used
- song titles – are conveyed by quotation marks around them. “Rhythm is a dancer”, “Stay”, “Angel of Harlem”
- band names – capitalised only – Snow Patrol, U2, Duran Duran (yes, you can see my musical tastes are not particularly up to date)
With regard to foreign words and phrases, it’s normally only on the first instance of using the foreign word that it’s italicised, unless the sense is still ambiguous in subsequent occurrences. In addition, words like vol au vent and tête à tête are not italicised from the outset, as they are in the English dictionary and readily understood.
Tune in next week for a post on Repetition
It has been a long time since I’ve written a commonly confused words post, so I figured it was time for another one.
None of us are immune to being tripped up now and again, even those of us who consider ourselves good at spelling. Sometimes even words we know how to spell might slip through the net. Do any of these errors crop up in your work? Do you notice them when you are redrafting? Do your beta readers point them out, your proofreader, your editor, or heaven forbid, your readers?
Altogether means completely, but all together means everyone in the same place.
Censor can mean to examine and suppress, but sensor is a measurement device.
Clamber can mean to get oneself out of something, but clamour (clamor) is a loud noise.
I might have a discerning palate, but I unloaded a pallet of boxes last night
Bells peal, but I have to take the orange peel off before eating the orange.
Someone might have an annoying tic in their eye, but they would avoid being bitten by ticks, and they would receive a tick and a gold star from the teacher for doing well in class.
You take your cue from those who know what they are doing, but you would stand in a queue at the post office (I realise that in the US people stand in lines!) And yes, it’s a snooker cue.
You could challenge me to a duel, but you would say James has dual nationality.
I couldn’t give a whit about football (not one iota!) but his brand of sarcasm and wit appealed to me.
You’d watch someone like a hawk and you’d hawk your wares at a market, but you might sip a nice glass of German hock
Someone might require you to come to their aid, but the prime minister’s aide was present at the conference.
You lose some weight, but your clothes are loose on you because of it.
You might pour yourself a nice glass of wine at the end of a hard day’s work, but students pore over their homework each night
You might bear a child, but the woman’s face was bare of makeup.
The principal reason we are here is to write, but I might not do something because it goes against my principles.
You might buy some stationery to put in your office supply cabinet, but your car was stationary when it was hit by the bus.
Sven was loath (reluctant) to wear his good clothes for work, but I loathe (hate) when people don’t say thank you.
Practise your English, but I visited the new doctor’s practice in town (NB: practise does not apply to US English)
The apartment I went to see was dingy (gloomy), but I went out in a dinghy on Lake Windermere.
I might invite you to my gaff for a party, but it would be a real gaffe to unintentionally invite all of my friends except one.
There are many more. I hope that has helped a little.
My suggestion is make a list of the words you know you confuse or are prone to mix up and continue to build upon it. Use it as a crib sheet when you are writing and redrafting. You can’t go far wrong!
Next time: italics