Less Than Five Percent

By Virginia Parker Staat

“I want to see the thirst inside the syllables. I want to touch the fire in the sound: I want to feel the darkness of the cry. I want words as rough as virgin rocks.” – Pablo Neruda, Verb

Passive verbs continue to haunt many writers. They remain terribly easy to write yet offer so little to our stories. Years ago one of my professors gave me a rule that I still use today. He insisted that good writing should contain less than five percent passive verbs. He believed this fervently. If he was in a particularly foul mood, he returned graded papers with each passive verb circled in red ink. Continue reading Less Than Five Percent

Formatting Your Manuscript

by Virginia Parker Staat

“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”
– Gustave Flaubert

Often a writer’s greatest challenge is to find the perfect enticement that will draw an editor to pick their manuscript from the slush pile and read it. Surprisingly, how a writer formats their manuscript can play a major role. A poorly formatted manuscript too often quickly ends up in the accompanying self-addressed and stamped return envelope. Continue reading Formatting Your Manuscript

The power of punctuation

By Virginia Parker Staat

 “Making love to me is amazing. Wait, I meant: making love, to me, is amazing. The absence of two little commas nearly transformed me into a sex god.”

~ Dark Jar Tin Zoo, Love Quotes for the Ages. Specifically Ages 19-91.

If improper punctuation rankles you to the point that you grab the nearest red-tipped pen and fear using it to go vigilante, join the club. When confronted with ill-used or absent punctuation, too easily I find myself in a rant, explaining that a keyboard has more than 26 letters on it and that the punctuation keys are for more than merely decoration… but I digress. Continue reading The power of punctuation

Proofreading tips

by Virginia Staat

“I do my best proofreading after I hit SEND.”  –Author Unknown

Your manuscript is completed.  Done.  Finito.  One task remains, however, before launching it on its journey to publication:  proofreading.  As author Maggie Murphy said in ByLine, “Careful proofreading isn’t going the extra mile for editors; it’s part of your job as a writer.” Continue reading Proofreading tips