Use a variety of punctuation marks throughout your stories, but keep in mind that certain punctuations have a specific purpose.
Comma is the most powerful punctuations of all! Use a comma wherever necessary to prevent possible confusion or misreading. Sometimes, just by moving a comma the meaning may change. For example,
Woman, without her, man is nothing.
Woman without her man, is nothing.
Insert a comma to separate lists of three or more items. For example,
She bought a dress, a pair of shoes, and scarves.
Sarika offered a coconut, haldi and kumkum, and flowers to the goddess.
Insert a comma after conjunctions — and, for, or, nor, but, yet before the last item.
Turmeric is a necessary, important ingredient, and it imparts great taste to most of the Indian recipes.
If you have quote marks in your manuscript, you need to make sure that all other punctuations are tucked inside of the quote marks. For example,
“Speak English!” said the Eaglet. “I don’t know the meaning of half those long words, and, what’s more, I don’t believe you do either!”
Use your Microsoft Word’s thesaurus sparingly. Sometimes, there are subtle meanings attached to words suggested on their list, which may not bring the best of your intended sentence. For example,
The room had a weird smell.
Here the writer doesn’t intend to specify whether the smell was bad or good. However, one often feels pressurized to come up with a different word to avoid repetition or monotony. During such occasions, when you look up the Microsoft Thesaurus, it recommends words like─stink, stench, reek, tang, odor, aroma, scent, and perfume. If the writer is unaware of the meaning of certain words from this list, and ends up choosing it with the intended meaning of smell, then the writer has a sentence that doesn’t mean the exact same thing.
If the writer replaces the word with stink, the sentence would mean that the room was smelling bad, which is not the intended meaning.
If the writer still wishes to use the word, it is a good idea to further cross check using a dictionary.
Use active voice often; the subject of sentence performs the action. In passive voice the subject receives the action. For example,
Active voice: The mother loves her baby.
Passive voice: The baby is loved by her mother.
Here, clearly, the sentence with active voice is more effective as the subject, mother directly states her action on the object, baby.
If you are using numbers, please spell out all numbers between zero to ninety nine except for addresses and time. Everything onwards 100, should be in numerical form. Roman numbers can stay as is. For example,
He read ten pages from that book.
The address is, G-9, Karishma Society, Ganesh Nagar, Pune 411038
The book has 200 pages.
It’s 12 p.m.
She is reading a book, Medical Reference, Vol. I.
Make a new paragraph for a new idea.
Think English! Do not translate thoughts from one language to another. Even though it could be a good start, don’t be in a hurry to finalize the sentence. It often sounds like poor translation from your native language.
Always, always keep a grammar book at hand for reference while writing.
Remember, if you care for grammar, half the battle is won!