The Great Copy Editing Quiz No. 2

by Catherine Foster

Do you want to be a copy editor? Maybe you just enjoy catching other people’s grammar errors and rampant punctuation mistakes. Do you think you have what it takes to find the flaw in every phrase? Take our quiz and find out!

Choose the correct sentences:

1.
A) The girl thought that all of her pudding were missing.
B) The girl thought that none of her pudding were missing.
C) The girl thought that some of her pudding were missing.
D) The girl thought that some of her pudding was missing.

2.
A) Neither Erik nor Christine have played violin.
B) Neither Erik nor Christine are playing violin.
C) Neither Erik nor Christine is playing violin.
D) Neither Erik nor Christine were playing violin.

3.
A) Either of us were capable of doing more work.
B) Either of us are capable of doing more work.
C) Either of us have been capable of doing more work.
D) Either of us is capable of doing more work.

4.
A) Some of the cookies is on the platter.
B) Some of the cookies has been on the platter.
C) Some of the cookies was on the platter.
D) Some of the cookies are on the platter.

5.
A) Here is the blue ballpoint pens you requested.
B) Here’s the blue ballpoint pens you requested.
C) Here are the blue ballpoint pens you requested.
D) Here are the box of blue ballpoint pens you requested.

Please correct the following sentences:

6. It is us whom must decide whether to eat pizza or buffalo wings.

7. Between yourself and I, this movie is boring.

8. Whom do you think you are to give me advice about the test?

9. Whomever makes up these silly games?

10. Whomever do you think should come in first place?

11. Our puppy is much more sweeter than his sister.

Answer Key:

1. Correct Answer: D The girl thought that some of her pudding was missing.
Explanation: Some is a portion word that is singular or plural depending on the object of the preposition. In this sentence, “pudding,” is the object of the preposition, so use “was.”

2. Correct Answer: C Neither Erik nor Christine is playing violin.
Explanation: when neither and nor connect two singular subjects, use a singular verb.

3. Correct Answer: D Either of us is capable of doing more work.
Explanation: “Either” is the singular subject, which requires the singular verb “is.”

4. Correct Answer: D Some of the cookies are on the platter.
Explanation: see Explanation 1.

5. Correct Answer: C Here are the blue ballpoint pens you requested.
Explanation: the subject is “pens,” so use “are.”

6. Correct Answer: It is we who must decide whether to eat pizza or buffalo wings.
Explanation: After “is,” use the subject pronoun “we” to rename the subject “It.” Also, use “who” as the subject of “must decide” because you would say “we must decide,” not “us must decide.”

7. Correct Answer: Between you and me, this movie is boring.
Explanation: “Between” is a preposition and the pronouns that follow are objects of the preposition, so use “me.”

8. Correct Answer: Who do you think you are to give me advice about the test?
Explanation: despite the tricky word order, the sentence is actually asking, “Who are you, do you think, to give me advice?”

9. Correct Answer: Who makes up these silly games?
Explanation: “Who” is correct because we would say, “He makes up these games.”

10. Correct Answer: Who do you think should come in first place?
Explanation: despite the tricky word order, the sentence is actually asking, “Who should come in first place, do you think?”

11. Correct Answer: Our puppy is much sweeter than his sister.
Explanation: never use “more” with a comparative adjective (“sweeter”).

Extra Credit

As lover of language, we never tire of a good discussion on the topic. So please choose your favorite subject and tell us about it. Do oft-overlooked rules of ellipses fire you up? Should/can you use the virgule in formal writing? Do you have a stance on the Great Oxford Comma Debate? What’s your take on rampant semicolon abuse? From the differences to em-dashes, en-dashes and hyphens to the subject of adverbs, we want to know what makes you a passionate editor. Here’s your chance to shine!

The Great Copy Editing Quiz No. 1

by Catherine Foster

Do you want to be a copy editor? Maybe you just enjoy catching other people’s grammar errors and rampant punctuation mistakes. Do you think you have what it takes to find the flaw in every phrase? Take our quiz and find out!

Choose the correct sentences:

1.

A) Some of the parfait was left by the end of the party.

B) Some of the parfait were left by the end of the party.

C) Some of the parfaits was left by the end of the party.

D) Some parfaits was left by the end of the party.

2.

A) Your bright smiles almost makes up for your tardiness.

B) Your bright smiles almost make up for your tardiness.

C) Your bright smiles makes up for your tardiness.

D) Your bright smiles has made up for your tardiness.

3.

A) Neither Erik nor I am playing violin.

B) Neither Erik nor I is playing violin.

C) Neither Erik nor I are playing violin.

D) Neither Erik nor I were playing violin.

4.

A) All of the class is willing to take part in the play.

B) All of the classes is willing to take part in the play.

C) All of the class are willing to take part in the play.

D) All of the classes has been willing to take part in the play.

5.

A) Two-thirds of the voters tend not to cast their ballots in local elections.

B) Two-thirds of the voters tends not to cast their ballots in local elections.

C) Two-thirds of the voters tends not to cast their ballots in local elections.

D) Two-thirds of the voters tends not to cast its ballot in local elections.

Please correct the following sentences:

6. He is one of those veterinarians that make house calls.

7. Dr. Raoul is one of those conductors who does whatever it takes to get his point across to his musicians.

8. He is the only one of the conductors who do what it takes to help their musicians.

9. Her and him are always together.

10. When him and Christine come over, we always have dinner.

Ex. Credit: Do you know the difference between issue and problem?

Answer key:

Choose the correct sentence.

1. Correct Answer: A Some of the parfait was left by the end of the party.

Explanation: Some is a portion word that is singular or plural depending on the object of the preposition. In this sentence, “parfait,” is the object of the preposition, so use “was.”

2. Correct Answer: B Your bright smiles almost make up for your tardiness.

Explanation: “bright smiles” is the subject of “make up.”

3. Correct Answer: A Neither Erik nor I am playing violin.

Explanation: when neither and nor connect two singular subjects and the second one is I, use am.

4. Correct Answer: A All of the class is willing to take part in the play.

Explanation: “All” is a portion word that is singular or plural depending on the object of the preposition. In this sentence, “class” is the object of the preposition, so use “is.”

5. Correct Answer: A Two-thirds of the voters tend not to cast their ballots in local elections.

Explanation: “Two-thirds” becomes plural because the object of the preposition, “voters,” is plural. Use the plural verb “tend.”

Please correct the following sentences:

6. Correct Answer: He is one of those veterinarians who make house calls.

Explanation: “who” refers to “veterinarians,” not to “one,” so the plural verb “make” is required.

7. Correct Answer: Dr. Raoul is one of those conductors who do whatever it takes to get their point across to their musicians.

Explanation: “who” refers to “conductors,” not to “one,” so the plural verb “do” and the possessive adjective “their” are required.

8. Correct Answer: He is the only one of the conductors who does what it takes to help his musicians.

Explanation: in this sentence, “who” refers to “one,” not to “professors,” so the singular verb “does” is required.

9. Correct Answer: She and he are always together.

Explanation: “She” and “he” are the subjects of “are together.”

10. Correct Answer: When Christine and he come over, we always have dinner.

Explanation: “Christine” and “he” are the subjects of “come over,” so use the subject pronoun “he.”

How did you do? Let us know in the comments!

The Big Book Proposal Part One by Catherine Foster

Your book is written and edited, but what is the next step to publication? How can you get the attention of a publisher? Should you contact an agent? How do writers make the transition to respected published authors?

There’s no single correct answer to these questions. Writers must decide for themselves if they would like to pursue self publishing or attempt their luck with online routes, independent presses, literary magazines and small scholarly publishing houses. For the purposes of this article, we’ll explore the options related to the brass ring that hangs above them all: the traditional publishing industry. These are some steps you can take to get noticed by the titans of the old school.

You’ll typically need a literary agent first, and agents can be as difficult to land as the publishers themselves. The agent is the gatekeeper to the publishing process in that they are the first person to read your manuscript and they have the power to decide if it is worth fighting for. They have established relationships with presses, and they know the appropriate places to submit. They have a keen sense of the most likely market for your book, and they manage everything from the size of the print run to percentages you earn. These finer points of negotiations on your behalf can come at a hefty cost, but most “respectable” publishers will not consider anything that is not submitted through a literary agent. Landing an agent—and paying their fees—is the price of admission to the big presses.

What, then, is the etiquette for securing an agent? The first thing you need to do is construct a book proposal. This can be as daunting a project as writing the book itself. Some seasoned authors write the proposal before they pen the book itself. Why would they do that? The proposal is a business plan, and it should be viewed as one. Many authors make the mistake of confusing the book proposal with a book discussion; it’s natural to assume that an agent or a publisher may want to know the content of the book they are planning to represent. This, however, would be a grave error on the part of the author. To know what is essential information to include in a successful book proposal, one must first understand the viewpoint of the agent who will be reading one. The agent is not as interested in the content of the book. They are looking for a book that will sell. They understand the need of the market, and it is up to you, the author, to supply information to them about how your book will fit that market. Books are now, more than ever, simply a profitable venture. It isn’t about an interesting story or an intriguing plot. It isn’t even about the quality of your writing. That might be hard to accept at first, but it is most essential that you are able to identify a key segment of the market and explain how 1) they are interested in your topic  and 2) they will buy from you. This is called evidence of need, and it is crucial for the success of your book. If you are able to present a reasonable explanation of this to an agent, they will almost certainly take you on as a client. It’s that simple.

Your book proposal should highlight this evidence of need and go on to demonstrate how it fulfills this need for the reader or for society. This will make it very easy for the agent to understand why your book is a wise investment. It may go against your principles to reduce your writing, an artistic endeavor, as something as basic as money. Writing is, indeed, a craft. It is all about art and creativity. The selling, promotion and publishing of that craft, however, is not. If you want to take the next step and go on to the publishing process, you need to view this step of writing as a business. The book proposal is set up with that aim.

The structure of the proposal can take many forms; they do not need to be followed rigidly. The purpose is to present a plan to the agent or publisher that shows that you are asking them to invest in your product (your manuscript) and explaining why they are likely to receive a favorable return on that initial investment. You may consider it akin to applying for a loan at a bank; in that case, you are asking an institution to grant you a certain amount of money and you explain why you will return it, with interest, over time. In this case, you are asking publishing houses to invest capital into the manufacture and marketing of your manuscript and you are telling them why they are going to see their investment returned. The book proposal is more important than the actual book itself, in many cases, and you must be prepared to understand business (to some degree) at this stage of the process.

Templates for book proposals vary. They can be found online, but what matters is that you understand what you are trying to accomplish. You can add or edit sections as they apply to you and your particular manuscript. The most important thing is to always keep in mind the idea that you are not explaining the content of your book, but rather always trying to provide an evidence of need. This should be first and foremost in your mind throughout the process.

A sample book proposal template may run as follows (although it is important to remember that you may diverge or tweak this as it applies to your particular situation):

Information

Proposed Title

Author

Once Sentence Description

Category Audience

Readers Say

Purpose and Need

Unique Angles

Current Interest

Competing Books

Proposed Back Cover Copy

Marketing and Promotion

Potential Endorsers

Other Details

About the Author

Proposed Outline

Table of Contents

List of Chapters

Chapter-by-Chapter Summary

Sample Chapters

            This is most certainly a comprehensive list covering every type of book; not every genre will require every category listed. For instance, a book of short stories or essays may not be written in a chapter format and won’t include many of those headers. This is not meant to fit your book into a mold or cause you second-guess what you have written; it is merely a guide on what how to most thoroughly package and present your manuscript to the people who have the power to accept it.

For those of you who were looking for a template, you can get started! If you need a little more help, I’ll begin to break down those headers in my next post. I will go section by section and give a thorough explanation of each category, what it is, if and when it is necessary, an example of what it looks like when it is written out and where to include it in your book proposal. If you ever have any specific questions about your own writing, your own submissions or editing in general, please address them to me at catherine@theletterworks.com or any of the other editors or writers here, and we’d be happy to help. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next time for part two!

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

Websites that Authors Can’t Live Without by Amanda Wayne

Every writer needs a little help sometimes. We have compiled a list of our favorite go-to websites for those tiny little details that make all the difference. Take a look if you need some help figuring out punctuation, tense, or word choice. We also included helpful websites on where to publish, how to publish, and the writing process.

Grammar:

What is a Comma Splice, and How Do I Fix It?

http://grammartips.homestead.com/splice.html

The Ellipses

http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/marks/ellipsis.htm

The English Tense System

https://www.englishclub.com/grammar/verb-tenses.htm

Learn English tenses

http://www.englishtenses.com/

Punctuating Titles:

https://www.thoughtco.com/punctuating-titles-1857242

Rules for Comma Usage:

http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/commas.htm

Whoever vs. Whomever:

http://www.grammarbook.com/grammar/whoever.asp

Whoever vs. Whomever:

http://grammarist.com/usage/whoever-whomever/

Character thoughts:

http://littlecalamity.tripod.com/Text/Thoughts.html

Capitalization:

http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/capitals.htm

i.e. vs e.g.

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/ie

How to use an apostrophe

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/apostrophe

How to use a semicolon

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/semicolon

The Ps and Qs of ems and ens

http://www.yourvirtualresource.com/articles/emsEns.htm

Run on sentences

http://www.myenglishteacher.net/runonsentences.html

Compound words

http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/compounds.htm

Conjunctions

https://webapps.towson.edu/ows/conjunctions.htm

Lay or Lie?

http://englishplus.com/grammar/00000233.htm

Lay vs. Lie

https://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/agcomm/ontarget/grammartrap/lay_lie.htm

Point of View

https://literarydevices.net/point-of-view/

Was vs. Were

http://writingexplained.org/was-vs-were-difference

Plural Possessive Noun

http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/parts-of-speech/nouns/plural-possessive-noun.html

A scary easy way to help you find the passive voice

https://www.grammarly.com/blog/a-scary-easy-way-to-help-you-find-passive-voice/

Active Voice vs. Passive Voice

http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/active-voice-versus-passive-voice

Issues vs. Problems

https://www.dailywritingtips.com/issues-vs-problems/

The English Personal Pronoun System

http://www.linguisticsgirl.com/the-english-personal-pronoun-system/

Characters, plots, and outlines:

Creating a character outline

http://www.writerswrite.com/journal/jun98/how-to-create-a-character-profile-6986

Novel Outline Template

https://images.sampletemplates.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Novel-Outline-Template.jpg

Naming your character (breakdown by popularity for area and decade)

https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/

Plot Twist Generator

http://www.writers-den.pantomimepony.co.uk/writers-plot-twists.php

Where to Submit:

Publications:

https://entropymag.org/category/where-to-submit/

https://trishhopkinson.com/where-to-submit/

http://www.thereviewreview.net/classifieds/calls-for-submission

http://www.bedlampublishing.com/submissions.html

Contests:

https://www.pw.org/grants

https://thewritelife.com/writing-contests/

How to Submit:

Writing a Great Cover Letter

Formatting your Story

Eleven Steps to becoming a Published Author

 

Have a website you can’t live without? Add it in the comment section! We would love to hear from you!

Welcome to the LetterWorks first blog post!

When first beginning in the cyberworld, it is polite to say “Hello World!”

And that is what we are doing to help serve the writing community.  At TheLetterWorks.com, we strive to improve your quality of work no matter what you are working on.  If you are writing a short story, a school paper, a novel or even a technical report, we can help give it a technical polish.

Our blog is intended to help guide authors in a gentle but informed way, kind of like our edits.  We hope you will enjoy the various styles of writing by our award winning editors (who happen to be accomplished authors in their own rights).

I hope you will enjoy viewing our website and blog and share it with your friends and family.  Check out our Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts, too!  And if you have any suggestions, please let us know.

Best regards,

Sander (the webmaster)