Resources for Writers

Useful advice from basic grammar & punctuation to the publishing process.

How to find a publisher

How to find a publisher or agent

Is it an editor’s job to help a client get published after the editing process? The answer is no. While I do provide a submission and back cover blurb review service – if I’ve edited your book – it’s not an editor’s role to research publishers or agents for clients. This is the legwork every writer needs to do themselves. The research you undertake during this process is essential for you, as an author, to be able to provide comparative listings when preparing your submission to publishers or agents, i.e. What other publications can you compare your own writing to? What similar themes do you explore? Which authors do you identify with? So how to research a publisher or agent? ...
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Dangling modifiers

Dangling, misplaced and squinting modifiers

*Advice given is based on the Australian Style Manual (ASM). Other style manuals, such as CMOS, may differ. Dangling, misplaced and squinting. These terms might sound odd, but they belong to real grammatical issues, sometimes the result of which can be quite amusing, if not confusing. Let’s look at how to avoid them with a little rearranging of text. Dangling modifiers A dangling modifier (or dangling/hanging participle) is a phrase that has been left out in the cold because it has nothing to modify. Most commonly, dangling modifiers appear at the start of a sentence, but wherever they appear, they make readers pause in confusion. Incorrect: Sitting under a tree, the shade felt cool. Here, the phrase ‘sitting under a ...
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How to use a semicolon

How to use a semicolon

Advice given is based on the Australian Style Manual (ASM). Semicolons are probably the most misused punctuation mark. If you don't know how to use a semicolon, you're not alone. Love them or hate them, some writers regularly confuse semicolons with commas, most likely because they've never been taught the correct usage. While commas can be a bit slippery – editors sometimes disagree over whether one should stay or go, especially in fiction – the wonderful (I love its elegant little tail) semicolon has only three distinct uses. Once you've grasped those three concepts, you'll find them much easier to use correctly. Three ways to use a semicolon   1. Join two closely related independent clauses.   Note: An independent clause ...
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Picture of gold punctuation marks

How to punctuate dialogue

Advice given is based on the Australian Style Manual (ASM). Dialogue punctuation is an area of fiction writing that often baffles new and experienced authors alike. Here you will find simple explanations on how to punctuate and lay out your dialogue, plus the difference between direct dialogue, indirect dialogue and internal dialogue. Single or double ‘quote marks’? Single and double quote marks (also known as quotation marks) vary from country to country and publishers usually have the final decision to fit their in-house styles. Generally, Australian and UK publishers prefer single quotes, whereas US publishers prefer double, though this can still vary. The main thing is to be consistent in your choice. It's easy enough to complete a Find/Replace in ...
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Picture of writing in a book

Competitions & opportunities

There's only one way to get yourself noticed as a writer. And what's that? Let people read your work. You're writing because you want to read, correct? So you need to take a chance on your work being seen by those in the know. Entering short story, unpublished manuscript or poetry competitions is one great way to firstly, get your writing chops moving, and secondly, get your name circulating where it counts - within the world of readers, writers, editors and publishers. Whether you're new to the game or have been doodling away for years, if your words are staying hidden on your computer, in your bottom draw or journal, you're never going to know the thrill and satisfaction of ...
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Ouch! Negative reviews

Dealing with criticism is one of the realities of becoming a published author. People outside our supportive circle of friends and family are going to read and publicly comment on our work. Fabulous! Isn’t that why you write? To affect people? To make them think, to stir their emotions? But what happens when those comments are constructions of uninformed bile or troll fodder? And all you want to do is stab yourself in the heart? Or better still, stab the reviewer in the heart? How satisfying would that be? As writers, we know not everyone will fawn over our work, and that’s okay. Potato Potarto. But when we come across a review that’s absolutely stinging and deliberately misconstrued, it can ...
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Pitch perfect

Want some tips on delivering the perfect pitch to a publisher? During my last semester at RMIT, where I did my Associate Degree in Professional Writing & Editing, my classmates and I were offered the valuable opportunity of pitching our manuscripts to two major publishers: Penguin and Text. I thought I would share some thoughts about the experience to help other newbie authors who feel their manuscript is at this stage. We were all nervous, yet excited. We were given two minutes each to get our pitches across and then a further couple of minutes for questions from the publishers. Not a lot, granted, but it’s amazing what you can get across in a short period of time if you ...
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Stories from conflict

Where do stories come from? Some writers say the ideas simply float into their heads when they're not really trying. Others like to brain-storm and think up a plethora of scenarios before they find the one that sits best. I think the kernels of stories tend to come from our own everyday experiences: people we meet, situations we encounter, characters on television and in books, voices we’ve heard in a café or on a train ride. All this information is percolating in our brains and once our imaginations get a hold of that jumble, it feeds into our writerly minds, presenting us with a myriad of scenarios and characters. Sorting through the tangle It’s not so easy though. When stories do ...
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The sound of proofreading

First impressions count, and nothing says 'novice writer' more than sloppy mistakes. I can't tell you how often I've cringed because a silly blooper has crept through my work. Usually, it's because I've been a bit blase. Truly, it's a form of laziness, not bothering to go back and read and re-read your own words before setting them loose on the world. But sometimes, no matter how careful you've been, there's still an occasional slippery sucker that's got by you. More often than not, it's a simple missing article like 'a' or 'an' or a tense issue like 'has' or 'have'. Super easy to miss. That's when a fresh pair of eyes comes in handy and our proofreading service is just ...
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