The Nitty-Gritty of Writing: Spacing

It’s time for another nitty-gritty of writing post! Craft of writing and storytelling is important, world-building is important, and generally being creative is important. But so is the boring stuff like punctuation and spacing.

Spacing: One Space or Two?

Many people reading this, when learning to type, may have been taught to put two spaces after a period. Two spaces after a period harkens back to the 19th century (and earlier) when typesetters at printing houses had blocks of a fixed size to represent each letter and each punctuation mark. Typewriters were the same way. Even well into the 20th century, and even after typewriters and typesetting became more adjustable, the convention was still to put two spaces after a period.

On modern computers we can have proportional font – that is, wider letters like “W” take up more space than narrow letters like “I.” In fact, proportional font is usually the default setting in many word processing programs and on internet platforms. Older typewriters and typesetting generally had a monospaced font (each letter or other mark took up the same amount of space on the page); therefore, double spacing after a period made the text easier to read. Continue reading

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The Nitty-Gritty of Writing: Grammar Rules Matter

I’ve written some posts before about those boring basics of writing, like punctuation, capitalization, and troublesome words like “it’s” versus “its.” In today’s world of texting abbreviations and rapidly-changing slang, it seems almost pointless to bother with proper grammar and spelling. But if you want to be a professional writer of any kind (or even just sell a few books on the side), this boring stuff matters.

Yes, that’s what editors are for. Us writers are the artists who construct heroic characters and amazing worlds, so why should we bother with accurate spelling and making sure the tenses match? Isn’t it an editor’s job to fix all that tedious stuff?

Well, yes, it is. Which brings up an excellent point: if you’re planning to publish a book – even self-publish – you should hire an editor. Getting your mom to glance through your manuscript, even if your mom was an English teacher back in the day, is not the same thing as having a professional editor go through your work line by line. Continue reading

The Nitty-Gritty of Writing: Words that aren’t Words

I’ve written several posts before out words that are easily confused with other words, words that are often misspelled, and other spelling slip-ups. So to add to that list, here are three words that I hear a lot in conversation – and often see written, as well – that are commonly used, but aren’t actually real words at all.

Supposably – The word you’re looking for is SUPPOSEDLY. It’s true that in English, a D and a B can often be misheard for one another, especially if the speaker mumbles or talks quickly. But supposably seems to have caught on to such a degree that I felt the need to let people know that what they’re hearing from others isn’t necessarily correct. Continue reading