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message 1: by Jan (last edited May 13, 2018 12:15PM) (new)

Jan Hurst-Nicholson (janhurst-nicholson) I found these when having a clear out of my filing cabinet. They are taken from Tom Parker’s book' Rules of Thumb', which I probably bought in the late 1970s or early 80s. (There seem to be new editions available). I think most of the rules still apply today and are worth remembering.

1. PROOFREADING – if you find one error while proofreading, there are likely to be several more in the same or contiguous paragraphs. Cheryl Russell, demographer.
2. WRITING A MAGAZINE ARTICLE – when writing a magazine article, begin with a snappy lead sentence, then write the piece to match the tone of the lead. Before submitting the article, delete the lead sentence. Gordon Hard, assistant editor, Consumer Reports.
3. USING A BIG WORD – if you’re writing something and you have to look up the definition of a word, you probably shouldn’t use it. Scott Parker
4. GETTING USED TO COMPUTING – it will take you about a year to feel comfortable using a home computer if you’ve never used on before. Mark McMullen, accountant.
5. WRITING A POEM – when you’re writing a poem, eliminate nine out of ten adjectives and adverbs in the first draft, and cut everything you’ve heard before. Jennifer Welch, poet and editor.
6. DEALING WITH DOUBT (WRITING) - when in doubt, throw it out, along with gems, and jokes, and brilliant strokes. Robert Lieberman, author.
7. WRITING – limit yourself to one thought per sentence. The sentences will end up being different lengths because some thoughts will be long and some short. The result will be a conversational tone. Albert Joseph, President, International Writing Institute, Inc.
8. WRITING SOMETHING IMPORTANT – if you feel that you need a thesaurus to write something, you are probably trying too hard. John Shed, language instructor.
9. WRITING A BLURB – it takes four times as long to write an effective book jacket blurb that is five words long as it does to write one that is thirty words long. But the shorter copy is seven times better. Walter Pitkin, literary agent.
10. FREELANCING RULE OF TWO – if you want a merely adequate return on a freelance project like writing an article or speech, figure out what you think you can get away with charging, and then double it. In 90% of the cases you will get what you ask, and in 100% of the cases the final expense and aggravation will exceed your original estimate by a considerable margin. Joel Garreau, author.
11. PUBLISHING A BOOK – you can hype a book by a famous author to 250,000 copies. After that, success or failure depends on word of mouth. John Gill, publisher
12. BUYING A TYPEWRITER – portable typewriters cost four times more to operate than office models and last only one fourth as long. Scott Parker
13. WRITING A MAGAZINE ARTICLE – after your note are prepared and your outline written, count on one hour of writing time for every double-spaced typewritten page. Brad Edmondson, writer.
14. WRITING SENTENCES – professional writers average about twenty words per sentence. Scott Parker
15. WRITING IN ENGLISH - about half the elements used in writing are chosen by the writer, the rest are required by the structure of the language. Scott Parker.
16. WRITING A FINAL SENTENCE – when writing, if you’re searching for a final sentence, you’ve probably already written it. Cheryl Russell, demographer.
17. USING SEMI COLONS – when in doubt, use the semi-colon; the average reader won’t understand its use and will give you credit for erudition. Denis Smith, school counsellor.
18. LARRY COOPER’S RULE – most semi-colons are unnecessary. If God had wanted us to use them he would have put one next to our large intestines. Larry Cooper, manuscript editor.
19. WRITING A SCREEN PLAY – one page of an average screenplay equals about one minute of screen time. Therefore the script for a typical film should be about a hundred pages long. In fact, many studios and producers won’t look at screenplays much longer than a hundred pages. John Griesemere, writer and actor.
20. BOOK PUBLISHING – if you ask a publisher if a new book is selling well and she replies, “It’s too soon to tell” – it isn’t – and it isn’t. Walter Pitkin, literary agent.
21. FINDING TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS - cheap paperback novels average one typographical error for every ten pages. John Applegate, typo hunter.
22. WRITING A SPORTS BOOK – the sales success of a sports book is inversely proportional to the size of the ball used in the sport. Frank Deford, senior editor.
23. REPRESENTING AN AUTHOR – a prospective client for a literacy agency who begins his letter of application with the words ‘My name is …’ should not be seriously considered. Walter Pitkin, literary agent
24. EDITING A MAGAZINE – you should plan on reading at least two hundred unsolicited manuscripts to find one that is usable. M. Lafavore, editor.
25. EDITING AN ARTICLE - when editing an article you rarely go wrong crossing out the first page and a half. Bryant Robey editor.
26. EDITING A MAGAZINE – three double-spaced typewritten pages of manuscript can be edited into one magazine column without anyone, not even the author, noticing that 20% of the words are gone. John Kelsey, editor.
27. ANNOUNCING THE NEWS - it takes about one minute to read fifteen double-spaced typewritten lines on the air, or about four seconds per line. Charles Osgood, CBS news commentator.
28. TIMING A SCRIPT – it takes 1 ½ to 2 minutes to perform an average page script. A seventy page script is about right for most plays. Kelly Yeaton, teacher and stage manager.
29. NEEDING AN EDITOR - an author’s willingness to allow his prose to be edited is inversely proportional to its need to be edited. Larry Kessenich, editor.
30. WRITING A BOOK – to determine how long it will take to write a book, figure out how long it should take, double it and add six months. Ben Bradlee, executive editor.
31. DEALING WITH DOUBT (EDITING) – when in doubt, cross it out. Bryant Robey, editor.
32. WRITING - the greater the sense of exultation and accomplishment upon completing the first draft of a work of fiction, the greater the need for revision. James McConkey, writer.
33. COMPARING MOVIES TO A BOOK – comparing a movie to a book is easy when one inspired the other. The one created first will be better. Mark Alber.


message 2: by Anna (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 552 comments Hello Jan, good to see you here and thanks for this interesting overview. One or two things have hit me between the eyes.


message 3: by Jenn (new)

Jenn Webster | 14 comments That is real, positive advice.-JW


message 4: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Alexandre (amandaalexandre) | 8 comments So interesting!
By the way, I am guilty of using semi-colons.


message 5: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4366 comments Mod
Amanda wrote: "So interesting!
By the way, I am guilty of using semi-colons."


Rebel.


message 6: by Jenna (new)

Jenna Thatcher (jenna_thatcher) | 132 comments One error per ten pages? A little moment of depression here....hopefully mine don't have that many.

"Using a big word" made me laugh. I actually had a beta reader make me take out some of my 'big words' because he said no one would know what they mean. Doesn't anybody use context comprehension anymore? (rhetorical...)


message 7: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4366 comments Mod
Jenna wrote: ""Using a big word" made me laugh. I actually had a beta reader make me take out some of my 'big words' because he said no one would know what they mean."

Those words are keepers. Thing is, when it's suggested I remove a word, there's really no other word to replace it with, such as petrichor.


message 8: by Jan (new)

Jan Hurst-Nicholson (janhurst-nicholson) I think that 'Using a big word' now and again shouldn't be a problem as it improves readers' vocabularies - provided they look it up, or can work out its meaning from the storyline! But you have to beware of too many in case it puts readers off. (Not that I know that many 'big' words myself :) )
I write children's books so have to be careful that any 'big' words that are introduced are explained in the context of the story.
e.g. Owl was nocturnal, he worked at night.
If children aren't challenged by a few words here and there then their vocabulary won't grow.


message 9: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4366 comments Mod
Jan wrote: But you have to beware of too many in case it puts readers off.

Some readers will be put off by "too many big words", yes. Some will be put off by "not enough big words". It's like, well, everything else in writing. Write where you are comfortable. There will be some readers who love it, some who hate it... and most probably won't even care.


message 10: by Anna (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 552 comments Dwayne's last sentence hits the nail on the head. I search out words that convey exactly, or as near as possible, what I am trying to convey so that the reader gets a good experience out of reading one of my books.


message 11: by Mason (new)

Mason Hawk | 28 comments "sales success of a sports book is inversely proportional to the size of the balls"

Takes on new meaning if you write erotica lol


message 12: by Jenna (new)

Jenna Thatcher (jenna_thatcher) | 132 comments Thanks for the support of 'big word usage'. I love the word prevaricate. Probably use it once per book. :)
Jan - I think we live in a society where we get instant knowledge/gratification so quickly that no one knows how to pick up an actual dictionary (not google) and thumb through looking for a word. It's even harder when you hear it and don't know how to spell it, so you're trying all sorts of combinations and reminding yourself that t comes after s and....good times.


message 13: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Another wonderful perk to ebooks is that when you run into "big words," all you have to do is highlight to get the meaning. This comes in handy a lot for me in fantasy where the author uses creatures from some arcane mythos that I'm not familiar with.

Number 20 is just snarky, unnecessary, and reinforces my belief that indie is the better option.


message 14: by Anna (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 552 comments I've just come across, in another group thread, two people saying they read a whole book in an hour.

So all that writing, editing and publishing is devoured in an hour... comments?


message 15: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Murrell | 412 comments Christina wrote: "Another wonderful perk to ebooks is that when you run into "big words," all you have to do is highlight to get the meaning. This comes in handy a lot for me in fantasy where the author uses creatur..."

I was anti-ebook for a long time, then I got one. One of my favorite benefits is the ability to get definitions right on the page.


message 16: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4366 comments Mod
Anna Faversham wrote: "So all that writing, editing and publishing is devoured in an hour... comments?"

To each his own, I guess. I would think you'd miss an awful lot by rushing through the book. I prefer to take it slow and savor the book, paying attention to how the author constructs sentences, brings in new characters, etc.


message 17: by Jan (new)

Jan Hurst-Nicholson (janhurst-nicholson) Anna Faversham wrote: "I've just come across, in another group thread, two people saying they read a whole book in an hour.

So all that writing, editing and publishing is devoured in an hour... comments?"


This reminds me of Christmas day - all that planning, preparation and cooking and it's devoured in an hour (and you still have to clean up afterwards!)


message 18: by Anna (last edited May 15, 2018 04:03AM) (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 552 comments Dwayne said: I prefer to take it slow and savor the book, paying attention to how the author constructs sentences, brings in new characters, etc.

Me too. The flow, the layered meanings, the alliteration, the... oh the joy when one finds a well written book!

I'm refraining from commenting on people who say they can read a book in an hour. Superhuman? Oh blast! I commented!

Jan - yeah. When I used to host the family Christmas (17 years in a row) I felt exhausted. I had a hissy fit (privately!) one year and refused (we'd moved house mid December) and my mother-in-law wanted to know the reason why. After that, I resumed the task. No help in the kitchen except my father-in-law would wash up - bless him. My father, seeing the mammoth task, bought me a dishwasher - I've been blessing him almost every day. Now I'm spoilt; my husband took to watching Nigella Lawson (all of her) and enjoys cooking Sunday lunches and more! And we go to my son's for Christmas.

For Americans - Nigella Lawson is a TV chef who enjoys smacking her lips as she tastes things and...


message 19: by Felix (new)

Felix Schrodinger | 138 comments I think that 'Using a big word' now and again shouldn't be a problem as it improves readers' vocabularies....

I always thought Erotica was a girl's name?


message 20: by B.A. (new)

B.A. A. Mealer | 929 comments When reading for pleasure, speed reading isn't an option. Reading a book in an hour means you whipped through it without enjoying the book.

I loved the 20 rules, but i don't miss my typewriter. As to using big words, I don't do it to show off but use words i'm comfortable with and mean what i want to say. It becomes a problem when peopke beleive you should be writing on a sixth grade level. My thought is to tell them they graduated high school so use at least a 12th grade vocabukary.

As to typos, minor issues are expected but whe you are finding issues on each page, my guess is the writer didn't care enough about their writing to do more than a second draft before publishing. If you take the time to read your manuscript aloud, you will discover most of the mistakes prior to publishing.

Mostbofmthose twenty rules still apply to writing today and there were a couple of gems which hit home for me....such as deleting words and sentences....lol


message 21: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 348 comments At the risk of getting offside with everyone, I have read an ebook in 1 hr. I did not read the metadata properly because it was a subject I really wanted to see what was out there, and it came in at 15 pages, and not very intense or well-written pages.


message 22: by J. (new)

J. (jguenther) | 52 comments Jan wrote: "12. BUYING A TYPEWRITER – portable typewriters cost four times more to operate than office models and last only one fourth as long...."

Actually, I did just acquire a typewriter, a 1960's Olympia. A friend was using it to hold down a tarp on his patio. I replaced it with a large brick and brought it home. I haven't really used it, yet, except as a prop for a play I acted in earlier this year. I bought new ribbons, but suspect the operating cost is going to be zero.


message 23: by Jenna (new)

Jenna Thatcher (jenna_thatcher) | 132 comments I'm a fast reader, but I can't help it. Seriously, and all of a sudden I feel super guilty. :)
Even worse? My mother reads the last few pages to see if it's worth reading the book. I'm serious.


message 24: by Wanjiru (new)

Wanjiru Warama (wanjiruwarama) | 204 comments Alex wrote: "Anna Faversham wrote: "I've just come across, in another group thread, two people saying they read a whole book in an hour.

So all that writing, editing and publishing is devoured in an hour... co..."


Goo points to bear in mind.
But read a book in an hour? Wow! I was impressed when a reader emailed me that she had read my book in 24 hours. Unfortunately, she tried to post a review, but failed, she said. She emailed me the review instead.

BTW, I still have a portable typewriter somewhere. Why I keep it, no one knows including me.


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