Before You Submit: Hyphenated Adjectives

Do you have a draft of your novel or short story and are thinking of submitting to an agent, publisher or writing contest? My series called Before You Submit might help. This series contains hints and tips I’ve received from professionals in the publishing industry. Each week I’ll share a new tip.

This week I’ll write about Hyphenated Adjectives.

If you’ve been reading Before You Submit, you’ll know I love getting feedback from an editor. Some of the tips I’m presenting are from the  early days of my writing career, and I’m almost embarrassed to admit I made these mistakes. I say almost, because we all have to learn, and not all of us remember everything we learned in grade school.

The editor corrected the following sentence:

Young people living in a dorm type facility . . .


Young people living in a dorm-type facility . . .

Instead of trying to describe the nuances around hyphenated adjectives, I’m going to refer you to Grammar Girl for an explanation. If you don’t know about Grammar Girl, it’s an excellent site to look up grammar rules. The hyphen is a tiny mark on the page, but one that will show an acquiring editor you are serious about your trade if you get it right, or you have homework to do if you get it wrong. The lack of a hyphen when you need one could throw your novel back into the slush pile, especially if it’s on the first page.

I hope this helps improve your writing.

See Before You Submit:Likeable Characters for the first blog in this series and an introduction the benefits of submitting even if you get a rejection letter.

Thanks for reading . . .


6 thoughts on “Before You Submit: Hyphenated Adjectives

  1. Dear Kristina,
    Thanks for doing the post about hyphenated adjectives. They are tricky.

    Celebrate you today.
    Never Give Up


  2. The WordPress spell checking feature is great for catching hyphenated adjective mistakes, and it catches a lot of mine! I will definitely consult Grammar Girl on this issue before submitting anywhere.
    So much to learn!


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