​Single and double quotes

Use single quotes (' ') for a quote within a quote and double quotes (" ") for everything else.


Here's an example of a quote within a quote:


Jane told the group, "My grandmother used to say, 'Eat dessert first, you'll enjoy the rest of your meal so much more.'"


Notice that at the end of the sentence, you put the single end quote next to the double end quote. 


In addition to their use with dialogue, double quotes are also used around magazine articles and TV episodes.


For example, my favorite episode of "Scandal" was when...


Double quotes can also be used to show sarcasm, as in "She's one of those "church girls" I've heard," Deirdre whispered to Shannon, then pursed her lips. 


Be careful not to overuse double quotes in this manner, it can become annoying.

Using I and Me

This tip will help you determine when to use “I” and when to use “me”.


Which is correct? “You and I have a lot in common.” or “You and me have a lot in common.” Note that You and I/me are the subject of the sentence.


The simple solution for deciding which to use is to drop the words “you” and “and” from the sentence.


Now we have, “I have a lot in common” or “Me have a lot in common”.


The obvious answer is I. So the correct choice is “You and I have a lot in common”.


Well how about when You and I/me are the object of the sentence? 


Consider these sentences. “Janice corrected you and I.” or “Janice corrected you and me.” 


Let’s use the same deductive reasoning as above. Which sounds better, “Janice corrected I” or “Janice corrected me”?


So when you use you and I/me as the object, it is correct to use me.

Using the EM (long) Dash

Let's talk about the em dash. This dash is the widest of the dashes and is called em because it is about the width of the capital  letter M. It can be used to add emphasis, to show an interruption, or an abrupt change of thought and it can be used in place of commas, parentheses and semicolons. In my humble opinion, it adds versatility to your writing.


You create an em dash on most computers by typing the first word, holding down the ALT key and then entering 0151 on your numeric key pad. You then enter the next word with no spaces between. 


Here are a few examples:


"Come on, I told you we won't get cau—Oh, hey, Mom." (Interruption)


"I go crazy over dark chocolate—well, actually, any kind of chocolate—when I'm sad." (parenthetical)


"here is only one thing missing from your plot—a great-looking guy." (emphasis)


"Let's grab some lunch—whoa, did you see the size of that dog?" (abrupt change of thought)


This is by no means an exhaustive list of ways to use this dash; go to for more. But a word of caution: Overuse of this dash can be as irritating as the overuse of an exclamation point, so use it sparingly.

Lay Vs. Lie

Let's start with present tense. When you use lay, there has to be some "thing" involved.


For example, "Lay your purse on that chair and let's get started."


The word lie doesn't need to be related to a "thing."


For example, "Go lie down for a while; we'll discuss it when you feel better."


Past tense isn't as simple because the past tense of lie is lay (could our language be any more confusing).


For example, "I went to lay down and found Overton, my chocolate Lab keeping my side warm for me." 


The past tense of lay is laid.


For example, Last week I laid my blouse on the living room chair; now it's gone.


The past participle of lie is lain (has lain). 

The past particle of lay is laid (has laid).

Using Who, That and Which

When referring to a person, always use who.


Example: Shirley is the one who has a pair of Louboutin pumps for every outfit.


When referring to objects choose between that or which. Here's how you decide when to use each.


Use that in a sentence when the information after it is necessary to convey the main thought.


Example: I need the Louboutin pumps that complement my outfit.


If you remove the phrase "that complement my outfit" you change the meaning of the sentence.


Use which in a sentence when the information after it can be removed and the main thought remains.


Example: I need the Louboutin pumps, which have a buckle on the toe, that complement my outfit.


If you remove the phrase "which have a buckle on the toe" the sentence still has the same meaning.


Note that you need a comma before which, but not before that.

Writing Song Titles, Lyrics, Albums Titles and Music Groups

Song titles are not copyrighted, so feel free to include them freely in your book. They should be showcased in quotation marks.


For example, My favorite song right now is "Happy".


Song lyrics are copyrighted and in order to use them legally, you will need to get permission from the publisher. If you choose to go that route, you will need to go a database like to get the publisher's information and write to him or her to obtain permission. But be aware that It will cost you, depending on the print run and how much you charge for the book. I found lots of good information about this topic on,, and


Album Titles should be written in italics.


Music groups should be written with no quotes, or italics.


A very wise author once suggested an alternative: Write your own lyrics to fit your characters' situation. Excellent advice.

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