Dragonlords of Dumnonia

Scriptorium

Writing Tips

(Revised 2/1/99)

Here, in no particular order, are a few bits of wisdom, gleaned mainly from comments editors have made on L.A. Malcor's MSS over the years.

  1. Remember to make use of your white space. Leave wide margins. Separate out long quotes. Double-space your text. Leave extra space at scene breaks. Lots of white space is visually appealing, has the subtle psychological message of "See! You don't really have to read quite so much after all!", and gives the editor plenty of room to make notes.
  2. When the speaker, action or scene change, change paragraphs. In general, do not paragraph while the same person is speaking.
  3. Try to avoid contractions except when a character is speaking. Many editors view contractions used in narration as substandard writing.
  4. Watch out for words that duplicate in a sentence, in a paragraph or even on a page. Make use of ye olde Thesaurus.
  5. Avoid the use of scholarly abbreviations in non-scholarly writing.
  6. Avoid the use of parentheses and other scholarly apparatus whenever possible.
  7. Above all, SHOW! DON'T TELL! If it's important that your character went to the corner for a loaf of bread, let us see him go to the corner and try to obtain the loaf. Don't just tell us that he did it. Tell your story; don't tell about your story.
  8. When writing for specific fantasy worlds, beware of "world slip." "Heyla" is a greeting from Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar not from Anne McCaffrey's Pern.

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