1) 10 Tips To Improve Your Grammar
I always find it interesting when writers will pledge a commitment to their craft, but shrug their shoulders when I say they need to work on their grammar. Some will also cite a poor education or a special learning need like Dyslexia. Whilst both these things will make improving grammar more challenging, it’s not impossible to improve.
This cheat sheet I found online from Grammar.net is a GREAT start – it outlines all the essential and most common grammar mistakes I see on a daily basis in Bang2writers’ spec scripts and unpublished novels.
2) Punctuation Tips
After grammar errors, punctuation is probably the second most common mistake I see. Most writers have a basic overall knowledge of what goes where, but they may have various ‘quirks’ on how they use them! Apostrophes, semi-colons and colons, hyphens and ellipses are the most frequently misused. But this handy infographic from KnowledgeUnlimited clears it up in a colourful and easy-to-read way.
3) 16 Boring Words (and what to use instead!)
ENGAGEMENT in your screenplay or novel is key, but this can suffer when your vocabulary does not stretch the reader enough. Using BORING words, or repeating the same ones too many times, can make us switch off. This graphic then from GrammarCheck.net is a great, quick reminder on what you can use instead.
4) 57 Senses To Use In Your Writing
Novelists have the luxury of getting right inside in their characters’ heads, but it’s surprising how many DON’T. Being aware of psychology, feelings and sensations can be a really powerful tool. Whilst ‘what you see is what you get’ in screenwriting, that doesn’t mean a writer can’t use SENSES. These senses may be about what the character is feeling (HOW can this be portrayed on screen?), or even the audience (how does this LINK to genre and tone?).
I found this sheet on Pinterest; Tasha Wiginton is a Nanowrimo enthusiast. Most of them on this primer sheet are pretty good, even just as starting points. Bookmark it now!
5) Emotions Into Body Language
This cheat sheet from WritersWrite is a great representation of how emotions manifest themselves as body language. Whilst writers don’t want to be too rigid with this and create what I call ‘false movement’ and ‘static scenes’, these ideas here are GREAT starting points for novelists and screenwriters.
6) Active Verb Cheat Sheet
If you’re a longterm reader of B2W, then you should be well aware of the mighty GoIntoTheStory! This great list reminds ALL writers we should be abandoning the passive voice and using ACTIVE VERBS wherever possible. We should also be using synonyms — no more boring, or repetitive words please (like number 3 on this list!).
7) Words That People Mix Up
I love this graphic from Fingertips Typing Services, because it breaks down nearly ALL the words I see that get mixed up most often in spec screenplays and unpublished novels! (If I have to explain the difference between ‘affect’ and ‘effect’ or ‘they’re’ and ‘their’ ONE MORE TIME!!!!). There are some notable missing ones though – ‘lightening’ for ‘lightning’; ‘cleaver’ for ‘clever’ and ‘draw’ and ‘drawer’ — but you can’t have it all!!
8) More Commonly Misused Words
This infographic by DK.com is a fantastic resource that can act as an aide memoire for those tricky words and phrases that can give writers pause … ‘Just which one is it??‘ I know I’ve struggled with most on this list, though I do take issue with its definition of ‘literally’ in 2017. Whilst the definition is LITERALLY true (arf), language does evolve too and you will find countless numbers of people using it in the figurative sense. They are not all ill-educated fools, either! Famous writers like Charlotte Bronte, William Makepeace Thackeray and F. Scott Fitzgerald and even Charles Dickens used ‘literally’ in the figurative sense. What’s more, even the Oxford English Dictionary throws up a few question marks too. So, SUCK IT. But otherwise, great graphic!