Nuts and Bolts of Writing – Part 1

Today 5 points on grammar.  Most of us did not learn these points of grammar in high school, but they’re very necessary for continuity in your story.  Readers tend to expect that the same literary devices are in place so they know how to understand what they’re reading.




-Paragraph break occurs between exterior action and interior monologue (thoughts)

-No spacing breaks between paragraphs unless a shift in POV (point-of-view).  Example from Cutting for Stone

     On the plaster above the desk my mother had tacked up a calendar print of Bernini’s famous sculpture of St. Teresa of Avila.

     Why this picture? Why St. Teresa, Mother?

-No spacing breaks between paragraphs unless a shift in POV (point-of-view) or a length of time has passed.  An example from A Thousand Splendid Suns (first POV is Rasheed’s, then a switch to Laila’s POV):

     Rasheed’s mouth opened, then spread in a yellow, toothy grin.  “Eager,” he said.

     Before Abdul Sharif’s visit, Laila had decided to leave for Pakistan.  Even after Abdul Sharif came bearing his news, Laila thought now, she might have left.

Thoughts (interior monologue):

-When writing direct thoughts (quotes), use italics:  Is this actually true?

-Indirect thoughts: He wondered if it were true after all. (See A Thousand Splendid Suns example above)

-Good to have mixture of direct and indirect

-Long thoughts—use 1 sentence direct interior monologue and rest indirect interior monologue.


-With standard tag (said or variation), use comma.  “Hello,” Jane said.

-With action tag (other than expression of ‘said’), use period.  “Hello.” Jane smiled at her.

-One set of stutters and then say he stuttered.  “Y-y-you’re here,” he stuttered.

-On the nose dialogue is useful dialogue, not boring.

“How are you?”

“I’m fine.”

Exclamation points

-Limit use of exclamation points.  Tends to reflect youthful/juvenile writing.  Show excitement (exclamation points tell; they don’t show). Only 5 per novel.

Page numbers

-Center on bottom

(Many thanks to Mr. McDonough, Randy Ingermanson and Kat O’Shea for their help to me and now I pass it along to you.)


Next time I’ll address how to create strong writing.






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