Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Good Read and another Common Mistake

Newlyweds Walter and Maria move to a house in the country. When Maria becomes pregnant, “Old Grammy” moves in with the young couple to “help out.” Maria begins to collect animals, a goat, a flock of geese that terrorize all visitors. Walter wants to add a pony to the mix for the coming baby, Alma. World War II interrupts their young lives and soon all the young men of Savannah have left for foreign service. Walter and Maria wait to learn what the future will hold.

Question from the e-mail: What are the most common mistakes you see in the manuscripts you receive. I don't expect you to answer all at once, but if you could put one up on your blog every few days, I will compile my own file of "What NOT to dos!"

Answer: Mistakes in Italics are common as well.

Here's the rule: All foreign phrases, names of ships, titles of Books, Movies, TV series, Plays, Magazines, Newspapers, and Musical Albums get Italics.  Titles of single songs, short stories, poems, and episodes of TV or radio series are only enclosed in Quotation marks.

Back in the day, a great many authors used Italics for emphasis on words in dialogue when they wanted to show how something was said out loud! But that device was greatly overused, and went out of style back in the 50s. Today's writers consider it a nuisance.

The most common mistake we see with Italics is using them incorrectly for thoughts. I see tihs all the time in published works --- and not all of them self-published works, eithe.

Direct, internal thoughts, in first person, get Italics.  If the character is thinking to him or herself inside his or her head, the thoughts should be:
    1.Written in first person.
    2. Typeset in Italics.

Thoughts with a thought tag, such as ‘she thought’ never get Italics. Only direct thoughts in first person get Italics.  If there is a first person thought, with a third person tag, it’s a “disagreement in person” grammar mistake and either the Italics or the tag should go.

The two following examples are dead wrong. The most common ones I see are:

I'm not going anywhere with you, she thought!

I've never seen anyone so beautiful, he thought.

If there is a "she thought"  or "he thought" as part of the sentence, it is absolutely written in Third Person, and therefore to give it Italics OR to write the first half of the sentence in first person is "a mistake in person" grammar error.

The best way to fix this kind of error, is to write the thought in first person and give it Italics, but instead of using a thought tag, follow it with an action tag that names the person who both though and acted.

I'm not going anywhere with you! Clara turned her back and stalked away in a  hurry.

I've never seen anyone so beautiful! Charlie stared after her, with a reverent look on his face.

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