4 Simple Answers to the Question "Where Do Those Pesky Periods Go, Anyway?"

periods quotation marks
“Where in the heck does this period go???”

I love to start my day by reading other bloggers posts. I usually find at least one gem to post on my Facebook page (check it out–lots of great writer-related stuff there!), but lately I’ve also found the same mistake made across numerous blog posts: the incorrect placement of a period. It’s a simple mistake and one I’m particularly aware of, since I, too, made it a million times before I got the rules through my thick head!

We all know a period comes at the end of a sentence, but there seems to be some confusion about its placement when other punctuation is involved. Here are three common examples and the simple rules to help you remember:

  1. Periods and commas precede closing quotation marks, whether double or single. Example: “Mary wore red shoes,” he told us, “because she doesn’t own a pair in black.”
  2. The exception to #1 is when a parenthetical reference follow. Example: “Mary wore red shoes,” Smith wrote. “She doesn’t own a black pair” (13).
  3. When an entire independent sentence is enclosed in parentheses or square brackets, the period belongs inside the closing parenthesis or bracket. Example: Mary wore red shoes. (She doesn’t own a pair in black.)
  4. When matter in parentheses or brackets, even a grammatically complete sentence, is included within another sentence, the period belongs outside. Example: Mary word red shoes (because she doesn’t own a pair in black).
Where do periods go when other punctuation is involved? #editing #grammar #punctuation Click To Tweet

But WAIT! I’ve been speaking of American English . . . what about British English? And what about less “formal” writing, like text messages and (gasp!) blog posts?

According to Slate.com, “Indeed, unless you associate exclusively with editors and prescriptivists, you can find copious examples of the “outside” technique—which readers of Virginia Woolf and The Guardian will recognize as the British style—no further away than your Twitter or Facebook feed.”

Hmmm . . . so is this Slate.com writer saying common usage trumps the rules? I don’t agree; common usage and proper usage aren’t mutually exclusive, but I’ll continue to mentally correct those outside-the-quotes periods when I see them. What about you? Do you care where those pesky periods show up?

Check reliable reference sources like the Chicago Manual of Style, the Modern Language Association (MLA) handbook, or Purdue Owl for more on this topic.

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my blog and you’ll never miss a post! It’s easy: Just enter your email address on the right side of this page. And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

And if you want more great writing and publishing information, check out my Facebook page, where I share all kinds of interesting articles and links.


*courtesy of the Chicago Manual of Style

Image courtesy of marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Descriptive Verbs Bookmark

Today is Groundhog Day, the day in the United States when a little groundhog named Phil becomes a media star. Phil emerges to check for his shadow, and millions of Americans find out if they have to suffer six more weeks of winter OR if they will enjoy an early spring. Phil might be the solitary prognosticating groundhog in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania today, but as a writer, you are not alone.

Descriptive Verbs Bookmark
courtesy of Banyantreestudio.com

In Phil’s honor, I am unveiling a new bookmark today. It’s filled with descriptive verbs you can use for creating great dialogue, moving descriptions of Phil’s antics, or great sentences in any style or genre you write. Print this out on card stock for a handy reference that’s always at the ready—and another big thank you to artist Ginny Millard at www.banyantreestudio.com for creating it. Please visit Ginny’s website and let her know how much you appreciate having all these fantastic word choices at your fingertips.

And don’t forget to “bookmark” Change It Up Editing and Writing Services for all your editing and writing needs in 2013. Let me help you say it the way you mean it!

Remember: you are not alone!

Happy Writing!


Present Tense: Breathlessly Waiting to Read About What’s Already Happened

Present TenseAs an editor, I’ve made no bones about my preference for past tense in both fiction and memoir writing. And I know I’m not alone. Yet there seems to be a movement toward writing in present tense, and there have been some passionate blogs written about the past versus present debate. In a blog titled “Does (or Did) Tense Matter?” D. Thomas Minton wrote:

“Stories in the present tense feel more urgent and immediate to me—I feel like I’m there with the characters, instead of listening to the story after-the-fact, while sitting in the cozy comfort of a coffee shop.  In contrast, the temporal distance that comes with past tense removes this immediacy, but past tense is more conducive to reflection, as if the narrator has had a chance to digest what has happened to him or her prior to telling me.”

Do you find present tense engaging or off-putting? #writers #authors #writing Click To Tweet

So maybe I prefer the reflective aspect of writing? Or perhaps I’m just an old dog who doesn’t want to learn new tricks—the author of The Singularity Sucks blog suggests it’s an age thing:

Continue reading “Present Tense: Breathlessly Waiting to Read About What’s Already Happened”

Are You Missing Great Content?

Twice a day I check Twitter and WordPress for information I think my followers will appreciate, and when I find valuable content, I post links to articles and blogs on my Facebook page. The information on that page is quite different from my blog posts, and if you’re not there, you’re missing some great stuff!

Image courtesy of tungphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of tungphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you’re reading this and you haven’t already “liked” my Facebook page, please do so now–I know you’ll find valuable content there, and I try not to duplicate what you’ll find on my blog. Thanks for the follow! And please tell your friends! 🙂 Click here to join today–you’ll be glad you did!  —Candace

The Happiness of Working with an Editor

You write for many reasons, but whether writing is your passion, your vocation, or something you are just beginning to do, I’m willing to bet that you write because it makes you happy.

I love my editor!
I love my editor!

Think about the way you feel when you know you’ve nailed a page of dialogue . . . or your article is accepted for publication in a national magazine . . . or you’re offered representation from a literary agent.


These are the moments a writer lives for, aren’t they? Continue reading “The Happiness of Working with an Editor”

The Procrastination Station

I recently had to write some copy for the back cover of a client’s book, and I avoided this writing for days. Sound familiar?

As writers we often find ourselves at the mercy of the ideas that one day flow faster than we can type, yet the next day apparently have a strong desire to hide like dust bunnies under the bed—they scatter as soon as we get close to them.

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When the latter happens, we find a million and one things to do other than write (I see you nodding!). I’ve noticed many bloggers writing recently about NOT writing—and I totally get it. Whether you dabble at writing as a hobby or you make your living this way, you’ll always have days when you reach The Procrastination Station* and just can’t get going.

(*Thanks to my good friend, Angela Rose, founder of PAVE: Promoting Awareness/Victim Empowerment for the use of this phrase. Learn more about Angela and PAVE here.)

“If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it.” ~Olin Miller Continue reading “The Procrastination Station”

FREE Book with 5 Easy Steps to Becoming a Published Author (This Weekend Only)!

From Friday, January 11 through Sunday, January 13, you have a chance to download a free Kindle version of What’s Your Book?, an aspiring author’s guide to completing the dream to become a published author. This comprehensive guide gives you the best info from innovative publishing professional Brooke Warner, who is one of my personal heroes in the publishing world; learn more about her here.jpeg_WYB_cover_image_320

In five chapters, What’s Your Book? will help you discover how to:

  • embrace the art of becoming an author;
  • get over common hurdles that prevent you from finishing your book;
  • challenge counterproductive mindsets;
  • build an author platform; and
  • get published.

These are just a few of the many tips you’ll find in What’s Your Book? Most important, you’ll learn about the three paths to publishing so that once you complete your work, you commit to yourself that you’ll bring it to your readers. Continue reading “FREE Book with 5 Easy Steps to Becoming a Published Author (This Weekend Only)!”

3 Ideas for Better Writing

From Candace: Here is some great advice about writing from fellow blogger Oliver at Literature and Libation. I hope you’ll check out some of his other posts–you’ll be glad you did!

Writing Groups for Self-Editing

Writers’ groups are a smart way to begin the editing process!

You’ve written a chapter of your memoir, or the first page of your novel, or a writing contest entry. You’ve meticulously self-edited, and now you want to know if what you’ve written “works” for readers . . . so  what’s the next step?

Now it’s time for a writers’ group, aka a critique group. Writers’ groups come in all shapes and sizes—some specialize in genres, others are based on common geography, and still others operate online. Whichever type you choose, you’ll find an abundance of free help from others who love to write. Even experienced writers understand the benefit of the unique perspectives each group member provides.

Critique group members can help you identify global issues in your writing, such as unclear meaning, stilted dialogue, overuse or incorrect use of particular words, and patterns of error in punctuation. They can also help you with grammar issues, plot inconsistencies, a story line that doesn’t work, and character development. They are also invaluable for brainstorming on everything from titles to plot lines to ideas on where and how to tighten your writing.

You may have to try a few groups before you find one that works for you, but you’ll find it is well worth the time and effort. In addition to critiquing your work, group members can be a source for great ideas on workshops, books about writing, and other related information.

Once you’ve received feedback from group members, you’ll be armed with many different ideas. You’ll find some of those ideas aren’t workable for you, but others will give you an “a-ha” moment, a moment when you ask yourself, “Of course, why didn’t I see that?” You’ll be reinvigorated about your writing and refocused on getting your paper, article, blog, or book ready for publication.

If you use a critique group for beta reading or any other part of your editing process, I hope you’ll share your experiences. And if you know of a great on-line critique group for authors to check out, please include the link in the comments.

Happy Writing!



Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalImages.net