Writing 101: Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation
The foundations of writing and reading are three very simple things: spelling, grammar and punctuation. It’s important as a writer to know the basics because it’s the core of what makes your story readable.
Punctuation is one of the most important aspects of written English, and yet it is one that is taken the most lightly. It is, in fact, this feature of writing that gives meaning to the written words… much like pauses and changes in tones of the voice when speaking. It’s very important to know how to correctly punctuate your sentences and what the different punctuation marks are, their meaning and when/how to use them in order to produce a good piece of writing.
Spelling can vary all over the world. Just ask the Americans or the British how to spell color/colour! Variations in spelling are fine by us. What we do ask is that you check to make sure whatever variant of the word you use is spelled correctly.
Grammar is important because it is the language that makes it possible for us to talk about language. Grammar names the types of words and word groups that make up sentences, not only in English, but in any language. We’re not saying you need to be an English major or a linguist, but we do ask that the basics are taken into consideration.
These principles are first in our Writing Resources section because they are part of the basis for submission on the Nine Lives Archive (see the Submissions Guidelines), and in fact are the biggest reasons authors can be sent a corrections letter before being published. We’ve got a few links posted to start with for your use and, like every category in our Writing Resources section, we will constantly be adding to this as time goes on.
- General Questions from Non-Native English Speakers
- Grammarly - Online proofreading tool that checks text for grammar, punctuation, and style, and features a contextual spelling checker. (Many of Nine Lives' authors swear by Grammarly! Warning: limited functionality unless you pay for premium.)
- Grammarist - One-stop shopping for your English language needs: parts of speech, punctuation, archaisms/colloquialisms, easily-confused words, homophones, "tricky words", spelling, capitalization, a glossary of English grammar and usage terms...
- English Verbs - all that tricky business about present, past, future, past perfect, future perfect, gerunds, etc., etc., etc... this link has 'em, with simple examples and explanation. Click on any of the sub-heads to get additional information and examples.
- The Punctuation Guide - comprehensive guide to American punctuation.
- Dialogue Formatting - the Star Wars version
- Tag Punctuation (dialogue punctuation)
- Punctuating Dialogue in English
- Quotation Marks: Single vs Double
- Improving Sentence Flow
- 8 Paragraph Mistakes You Don't Know You're Making
- How to Create Similes and Metaphors