jewellery label

Important Tips For Fics

This is based of a lot of common mistakes I see in fanfics.

1. If English isn’t your first language then you need to learn to distinguish between British English and American English and choose which you write in, especially if your character(s) are from a specified country.

a) Having Us in words like harbour, neighbour, flavour and behaviour is British

b) Like in French (and especially if it’s a French loanword) words like sabre, centre, metre, litre and calibre end in an RE if British, but in American the last two letters are switched to ER so saber, center, meter, liter and meager. Exceptions are words like acre, mediocre and massacre which are the same on both ends.

Note: Americans do use the spelling theatre, but it’s only when referring to it the same way Brits do - when referring to a performance stage like the ones in Broadway. Other than that, Movie Theater is standard.

c) Ending certain words in an -ISE is British – realise, organise, recognise, modernise, serialise – ending them in an -IZE is American – realize, organize, recognize, modernize, serialize. That doesn’t account for words like devise, advise, surprise or disguise.

d) Doubled consonants, primarily the L, in words like woollen, taveller/ing, jewellery, cancelled and labelled are British, in the US it’s one L.  On the other hand, in America words like skillfull, enrollment, installment and fullfillment have two Ls while they have one in the UK.  An exception is parallel, compelled, rebelling and excelled which are the same for both.

e) Names of places and things differ on both ends of the pond. 

UK -> US

Cinema —> Movie Theater (or commonly referred to as the Movies)

Car park —> Parking-lot

Lorry —> Truck

Flat —> Apartment 

College —> Secondary School, usually private

University —> College

Lift —> Elevator

2) Spelling:

Spelling is very important, one missing or added letter, usually a vowel, can change the entire sentence, know the difference between words like Lose and Loose, Its and It’s, Dying and Dyeing, Singing and Singeing, Dive and Drive and check for them while you edit.

While English is a gender-neutral language, some words need specifications. As I said before about French loanwords, the ending matters.

It’s Fiancée for women, Fiancé for men. Same with Née and , Blonde and Blond, Brunette and Brunet 

PS. incase you were wondering, a male ballerina is called a danseur.

3) Grammar

Almost always put a comma before you write someone’s name in dialogue.

“Be quiet, Jane.” not “Be quiet Jane.” / “Cameron, sit down.” not “Cameron sit down.”

“Let’s eat, Grandma,” not “Let’s eat Grandma.”

Don’t eat your grandma. Use a comma, save a grandma.

The exceptions are if you’re referring to someone who is either not the one being spoken to or if your speaker is saying something specific.

“What do I do about Jane, Cameron?” or “I’m paranoid, yeah, says John the Shut-In.” 

Using the Oxford Comma correctly vital in other cases. “We invited the strippers, Stalin, and Mussolini.” not “We invited the strippers, Stalin and Mussolini.” 

Move over Chastity and Sapphire, there are new stripper names in town, dictator names!

Adding an extra comma where it’s not due can also give you “The panda eats, shoots, and leaves,” rather than “The panda eats shoots and leaves.”

First one is an observation, the second is a homicidal panda that eats, shoots someone and escapes.

4) Descriptions

Too many times I’ve seen someone refer to a character as simply the raven, no -haired added. So, unless you’re talking about Edgar Allen Poe’s poem or an actual raven you don’t refer to a black-haired person as The Raven, you also shouldn’t regularly refer to them as raven-haired because it sounds amateurish and ventures onto purple prose. Just say they have black hair, mention the comparison to a raven’s wing or it being as black and without a hint of brown as a crow’s wings through the eyes of a character that’s admiring them or likes them enough to be that poetic, you wouldn’t look in the mirror and call yourself that.

Another one is blonde-headed, which is very pointless as blonde is a word that solely exists to describe someone’s hair color. You can’t have blonde eyes or clothes, though you can have blonde fur. Tow-headed is an acceptable, though rather outdated, way to describe someone with light hair but unlike the word redhead, blonde-headed is just awkward.

Brown-haired and black-haired are needed as a two-word descriptor, red-haired also needs a dash but redhead is one word. Brunet/te only describes brown hair, not black hair.

Now, referring to someone whose name we know by their description is very jarring and annoying, every now and then mention what this person looks like, mention their hair, their eyes, their job or their skill. Don’t refer to them as the Blonde constantly as an excuse to cut down on saying He/She or John/Jane said/did/looked/sat. It’s okay to repeat yourself.

Other ways to remind us what they look like or what they are can go like:

His red hair looked almost brown in this light.

She narrowed her beady blue eyes in a suspicious glare.

As a dancer, she wasn’t allowed to get drunk that often.

It was clear from the paint under his fingernails that he was an artist.