A Grammatical PSA

Are you in seminary? Starting grad school this fall? If so, here are some hints to make your professors more happier as they grade your papers:

  • Avoid the subjunctive mood.
  • Avoid the passive voice.
  • Don’t use “scare quotes.”
  • Punctuation goes inside of quote marks. See above.
  • Book titles are italicized, not underlined or in quote marks.
  • Always use a serif font.
  • Always use the Oxford Comma.
  • Only a single space between sentences. Unless you’re using a typewriter. Which you aren’t.
  • Don’t capitalize words that are not proper nouns.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming. :-)

Book Update

 

I write on a MacBook Air, just like this guy.

Some authors have the luxury of holing away and writing full time. Fellow Edinan, the late Vince Flynn, went to a rich guy’s pool house every day and wrote for 8 uninterrupted hours (this was before wireless, and he’d jammed a screwdriver into his laptop’s ethernet port to fight the temptation of the internet).

I, however, am not such an author. Like most authors, I write in fits and starts between my several jobs, grading papers, coaching a baseball team (we won last night!), and other commitments. As such, I haven’t looked at the manuscript in a week. But today I revise chapters 3-5.

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10 Tips for Working with an Editor [Manuscript Monday]

This post is sponsored by Grammarly. I use Grammarly’s plagiarism checker because so many people have accused me of stealing my theology from Pope Francis.

A month ago today, I was in Chicago, meeting with my editor about my next book. I’ve known him professionally and as a friend for over a decade, but we’ve never worked together before, so I didn’t know quite what to expect. Over the course of a day, sitting at his kitchen table, we talked about everything from what I see as my role in the wider world to what should be my “voice” in this book to how the table of contents should flow.

As a result of our meeting, the table of contents is, in fact, completely different. I had written about 23,000 words of the manuscript prior to our meeting, so we also went over some passages, talking about my voice, my writing style, etc. All in all, it was a great meeting, and I’m fortunate to be working with him.

With a dozen books in print, I’ve worked with almost that many editors. I’ve also worked as an editor, both in my role at sparkhouse, and in a couple book projects. So, from my vantage point, here are my Top Ten Tips for Working with an Editor:

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Manuscript Mondays: Finding a Writing Rhythm

Mark Twain said, “Write what you know.” So, since I’m neck-deep in a book project, I’m going to start writing about that process on Mondays.

My next major book, on the atonement, is coming out in February…2015. That’s right, 2015. Seems like a longs way off, doesn’t it? It does to me, too.

I work best under deadline. A book I’m editing that is a tribute (aka, festschrift; aka liber amicorum) was due last Thursday. After putzing away at it here and there in the preceding months, I buckled down and worked on it night and day for the ten days prior to the deadline. And it got done — done well, I think.

There’s a certain kind of rush that comes when a deadline approaches. My creative adrenaline spikes. I become singularly focused on that project.

However, when the deadline is months away, there is no such adrenaline, no such focus. That’s especially true when the book manuscript is due over a year before the book will release, because I know that there’s lots and lots of time to edit the book, to fix mistakes, and to tighten up the prose.

So here are some things I do:

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