We have come at last to the final lesson of Writing 101! Once you read this you are truly ready to sit down and write. This final lesson is on grammar guides. The 102 series will pick up with deciding how to publish, and that series should be looked into once you've started writing, but before your first draft is 33% done. This is part of why in our last lesson you needed to plan by word count, it helps schedule the millions of tasks.

Finally! Er, wait...there's more?


For the moment let's keep it short and sweet: if you don't have a copy already, buy The Deluxe Transitive Vampire stat! Really; beginning, middle, end. I don't care if you have a master's in English, get this book. Any and all grammar questions are answered within it in a very cute way, as told by vampires and other creatures. Get it. GET IT!

As for a thesaurus...here's a secret: we live in the future. There's this awesome thing called Google. Just Google "________ synonyms" and a list comes up. It's all you need, and it saves time.

Google? Really? You don't say!


That being said let's take a look at the most common mistakes writers make. Commit these to memories, these mistakes in a published-for-pay work will spell your doom:

1. Missing a comma in a compound sentence: This seems like a simple idea, but is often screwed up. Those are two ideas. Remember that two ideas in a sentence (an idea has a subject and predicate) are most often joined with a comma.

2. Using a comma instead of a semicolon: This seems like a simple idea; people screw it up all the time. When do you use a semicolon and not a comma? Use a comma if a word joins the two sentences (such as "but"); if the sentences don't have a word joining them use a semicolon.

3A. Fucking up apostrophes: An apostrophe shows possession or compounds a word. When compounding two words such as "do" and "not" into "don't," the apostrophe replaces the missing letters (in this case the "o" in "not"). In showing possession the apostrophe goes between the "s" and the owner's name (Tom's), or after the "s" if the owner's name ends in "s" (Jones')

3B. Fucking up its and it's: "It's' is the compound of "it" and "is," so it's an easy thing to remember. "Its" is possessive. It is a special word, and that's its prerogative. 

4. Subject and verb disagreement: Incorrect: My friend and his mother comes to visit me weekly. Correct: My friend and his mother come to visit me weekly. The tense of the verb depends on the subject. Pay attention to what is the subject! Incorrect: A playwright behind the scenes create wonderful dialogue. Correct: A playwright behind the scenes creates wonderful dialogue.

5. Beginning a formal sentence with "and": A formal sentence is one not thought or spoken by a character. Characters don't have to have perfect grammar, but the writer does. A formal sentence is exposition, and any starting with "And" are incorrect. And sentence fragments. I could have put a comma after "incorrect" and joined the two into " A formal sentence is exposition, and any starting with 'And' are incorrect, and sentence fragments." I could also have changed the second sentence to "These are known as sentence fragments," or "Beginning with 'and' creates a sentence fragment."

6. Fucking up your and you're: "Your" shows possession, as in that is your choice to exercise good judgment. "You're" is the contraction of "you" and "are" as in if you frequently, repeatedly confuse the two you're a moron.

7. Their, there, and they're: Their = possessive form of they: That's their table. There = a vector/place: It sits over there. They're = the contraction of "they" and "are": They're using it now. That's their table over there, and they're using it now.

8. Effect vs affect: Effect is a noun, affect a verb. The effects of the test were negatively affected by the data compilation.

9. A lot: There is no such word as "alot." A lot refers to a "lot" or a large quantity of something. It's actually bad grammar, but since people use it a lot in real life it's usable. Seriously, when in doubt substitute the words "often," "a bunch," "immensely," or "a shit-ton!"

10. Then vs. Than: Then denotes time and than compares two things. When it's more popular to double-check than make things up, then life will not hurt people like me.

Those are the most common mistakes to avoid. Commit them to memory. For everything else, see The Deluxe Transitive Vampire.

No, not that one, he's the dude with the numbers! 


Congratulations, you made it through Writing 101! You now have all the tools to begin writing a novel, you have a time estimate and goals, and you have all the supplementals you'll need. In our next step we begin thinking about marketing. Writing 102 will be short and cover marketing, tailoring your work to commercial demand, re-budgeting your time, and avoiding writer's block. So for the moment go and write, but before you get to 1/3 of the way through that first draft come back and read through writing 102. Good luck!