On Books And Sleep

Coming off nights, I'm writing this before I go to bed – the one good thing about nightshifts is that I get to drive home to go to bed while the normal people are trudging through the rain to get to work.

The draft manuscript for the sequel to Blood, Sweat and Tea has been emailed to my publisher. More news on this as it comes.

Monday's question for you is this –

If everyone has the ability to write a book – what is the first sentence of your book?



When I emailed in my draft manuscript I also posted a little note for the copy editor – I include it here the for comedic value of all the 'gotchas' that I am blissfully ignorant of.

Note for copy editors –

Just some notes to help guide you and alert you to some of the horrific liberties I take with the English language

The [[text like this]] is formatting instructions, not me having some sort of conniption. It’s text that should be rendered in a fashion that makes it obvious that it’s a later comment on the previous post.

I’m particularly poor at getting lying/laying right, sorry about that. Normally I write myself around using these words but I may have missed a few.

Also ‘was’ and ‘were’.

And ‘which’ and ‘that’. I wish I’d paid attention in school.

I like hyphens, en-dash or em-dash, I can’t seem to get enough of them – if possible I’d like them left in as they are part of my ‘voice’ even though I know that it’s not necessarily decent grammar.

I also like ellipsis… (Which I type as three full stops, Word may have changed them into the correct character – I have no idea).

Commas followed by propositions, but sometimes I can’t help myself.

I’ve probably missed a few chances to press my semi-colon button on the keyboard. I like semi-colons but I’m a bit daft about when to use them.

I try to avoid jargon, but sometimes I can’t help myself. If you want to change EMT to E.M.T. go ahead but ORCON isn’t an acronym and so should remain as it is.

Keep an eye out for ‘ and “ I’ve possibly mixed them up – sorry. I’m also a terror for missing or adding incorrect possessive apostrophes, blame my comprehensive school education.

I use newlines and double newlines for timing, I don’t know if layout is part of your purview but some of these double newlines are intended – please bear this in mind if you change some of them (and no doubt some of them are in there by mistake)

Thank you very much for putting yourself through the trauma of trying to beat this manuscript into shape, it’s very much appreciated.

I now have a week off work which means plenty of chance for me to get some of my other projects up and running, as well as a chance to do some administration on this site.

But first… sleep.

19 thoughts on “On Books And Sleep”

  1. Good luck with the book Tom.It's nice to know I'm not the only one who 'struggles' with grammer. I'm studying my Cert Ed at the moment and received a universal gasp from the Language, Literacy and Numeracy students when I commented that ” surely apostrohies (wrong spellng??) aren't that important!

  2. I think there are a whole group of people around my age (40) who didn't 'do' grammar in school. I know I didn't, and I don't think it was just that I was 'off that week' because nobody else did it either. This is despite doing A level English. I've always had a thing for !!! (I'm a pisces, we do melodrama!!!), ??? and … I've developed a thing for ' ', always liked ” ” (although I apparently did once have a nightmare as a child where I sleepwalked screaming that my “66s and 99s are upside down” and I've developed a big thing for -hyphens- recently (it must be catching) as well as my more usual brackets.I proudly know my your from my you're, but I can't see myself ever going for semi colons. It sounds too bowel-ey. (I also have a thing for creating words) and I don't really know what they mean…

    Best of luck with the book, I can't wait…

  3. Dr Grumble could never write a book. Conniption and ellipsis are big words. And what are commas followed by propostions? But then Dr Grumble does not get propositions.

  4. Good luck with the new book!'Re – 'big words'- Ellipsis' means deliberately leaving something out. 'Conniption' is the reaction of a post-operative patient who discovers the opposite; something was accidentally left IN.

  5. 'the odd life of a strange person'. maybe–given my combination of 'learning difficulties', the headache i would provide my editors would be legendary 🙂 glad you got your book turned in, though.

  6. *lol* I'd love to get an e-mail like that with some of the manuscript we get sent. I'm a professional editor at a book company in the U.S. and let me say that your sentence structure and grammar on this blog are still significantly better than much of what I see. Ah, the English language and the millions of ways to mangle it. ^_^

  7. Despite having a good command of our ever-evolving langauge my grammer.. grammar… is hit n miss!IF i wrote an autobio. (fascinating person that am… COUGH COUGH) then it could begin

    “Nine months after Churchill died I came screaming into this world. And i had more hair and less cigars!”

  8. First line:I never really thought i'd write a book but the purple monkeys are telling me to.

    It just sort of sums up my life 🙂

  9. Alison J – listen to Stephen Fry's latest podcast, on language, at stephenfry.com … I used to wince at the “10 Items Or Less” signs. Now I wince at myself wincing at them.Rory

  10. I would like the first line to be 'I've lived a long and fruitful life', but I'm afraid that it will probably be 'Phasers on stun – try to get one of them alive!!!!'And it'll be knocked back because of my addiction to exclaimation marks.

  11. Don't know if this helps, but it helps me. For when to use which and that – if the word follows a comma then you use which, if there isn't, use that.eg

    The cat, which was fat, couldn't fit through the flap.

    The cat that was fat couldn't fit through the flap.

    My big problem is with its and it's. I just write up the document and when finished, do a Control + F, and do a find for each its and then for the it's, checking to see if it's used possessively (its) or not (it is = it's).

  12. fist line of my book…”so you see your honour, i naturally assumed that the patient was the living dead rising from the grave and as we all know the only really effective way to stop a zombie is to destroy the brain.”

  13. Good luck with the book. There's a whole generation out there who struggle with grammar – I know, I'm another one. I do try.First line of my book?

    “As I sit here in the garden, gazing at the moon, I wonder if anyone would call the police should I decide to howl instead of gazing.”

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