Rules for Writing

By Kate, age 19, New Hampshire
Sweet Designs Staff Intern
Sweet Designs Featured Writer

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When it comes to writing, whether it's a poem, short story, novel, or song, I'm sure you've been taught many different things over the years. Everything from spelling, grammar, forms, sentence structure, etc., but there may be some things you still don't know, or don't remember! There may even be a few things you thought you knew but could be wrong! So, where can you find all those silly rules for writing? Right here, of course!

Spelling Rules

i before e, except after c!

-ing words: If the word ends in a single consonant and the preceding vowel is stressed and spelled with only one letter, double the consonant before adding -ing.

Exs: occur - occurring, swim - swimming

If the preceding vowel is unstressed or spelled with two vowels, do not double the consonant.

Exs: enter - entering, visit - visiting

If the word ends in c, change the 'c' to 'ck.'

Exs: panic - panicking

There are exceptions with some verbs ending in l, m, and p.

Exs: travel - either traveling or travelling, program - either programming or programming

Deletion or addition of e: If the word ends in an unpronounced e, drop the e before adding -ing or -ed.

Exs: create - creating, type - typing

For monosyllabic verbs ending in -ye, -oe, or -nge, keep the final -e before -ing, but drop it before -ed.

Exs: dye - dyeing/dyed, singe - singeing/singed

If the word ends in -ie or -ee, drop the final -e before -ed.

Exs: die - died, agree - agreed

If the verb ends in -s, -z, -x, -sh, or -ch, add -e before the -s ending.

Exs: pass - passes, buzz - buzzes

Treatment of '-y': If the word ends in -y, change the -y to -ie and add s to make it plural.

Exs: carry - carries, try - tries

If the word ends in -ed, change the -y to -i and add -ed.

Exs: carry - carried, try - tried

Following a vowel or preceding -ing, the -y remains.

Exs: stay - stayed, toy - toying

If the word ends in -ie, change the -ie to -y before -ing.

Exs: die - dying, lie - lying

Variations of the final -s rule:

Nouns that end with s, z, x, sh, or ch, add -es.
Nouns that end in o, add -es.
Exceptions: studio/studios, piano/pianos, zoo/zoos
Nouns that end in a consonant and y - change the y to an i and add -es.
Nouns that end in f or fe - change the f to v and add -es.

Grammar Rules

My mom and I, or my mom and me?

Who vs. Whom: Use the 'he/him' method to decide which word is correct.

He = who
Him = whom

Whoever vs. Whomever: him + he = whoever

That vs. Which: 'Who' refers to people. 'That' and 'which' refer to groups or things.

Me vs. I: Which one makes sense? To figure this out, take out the other person's name and read the sentence as if it was just you. Does 'me' or 'I' make more sense?

Ex: My mom and me/I went to the mall. Me went to the mall? No. I went to the mall! So use "My mom and I".

Commas: Use commas to separate words and word groups with a series of three or more.

Use a comma to separate two adjectives when the word and can be inserted between them.
Use commas to set off expressions that interrupt sentence flow.

Ex: I am, as you have probably noticed, very excited about this.

Use a comma to separate two strong clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction: and, or, but, for, nor.

Ex: I have painted the entire house, but he is still working on sanding the doors.


Always spell out single-digit whole numbers. Use numerals for numbers greater than nine.

Always spell out simple fractions and use hyphens with them.

Be consistent within a category. If you choose numerals because one number is greater than nine, use numerals for all numbers in this category. If you choose to spell out numbers because one of the numbers is a single digit, spell out all numbers in that category.

Poem Rules: forms, rhyme schemes, etc.

Ballad: A poem that tells a story similar to a folk tale or legend which often has a repeated refrain.

Couplet: A couplet has rhyming stanzas made up of two lines.

Dramatic monologue: A type of poem in the perspective of someone other than the writer.

Elegy: A sad and thoughtful poem about the death of an individual.

Epic: An extensive, serious poem that tells the story about a heroic figure.

Free verse: Poetry written in either rhyme or unrhymed lines that have no set fixed metrical pattern.

Haiku: A Japanese poem composed of three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables.

Iambic pentameter: One short syllable followed by one long; five sets in a row. Example: dah-DAH, dah-DAH, dah-DAH, dah-DAH, dah-DAH,

Italian sonnet: A sonnet consisting of an octave with the rhyme pattern abbaabba followed by six lines with a rhyme pattern of cdecde or cdcdcd. 'a' words rhyme together, 'b' words rhyme together, etc.

Limerick: A short, sometimes vulgar, humorous poem consisting of five anapestic lines. Lines 1, 2, and 5 have seven to ten syllables, rhyme and have the same verbal rhythm. The 3rd and 4th lines have five to seven syllables, rhyme, and have the same rhythm.

Ode: A lengthy lyric poem typically of a serious or meditative nature and having an elevated style and formal stanza structure.

Petrarchan: A 14-line sonnet consisting of an octave rhyming abbaabba followed by a sestet of cddcee or cdecde

Quatrain: A stanza or poem consisting of four lines. Lines 2 and 4 must rhyme while having a similar number of syllables.

Rhyme: A rhyming poem has the repetition of the same or similar sounds of two or more words, often at the end of the line.

Rondeau: A lyrical poem of French origin having 10 or 13 lines with two rhymes and with the opening phrase repeated twice as the refrain.

Sestina: A poem consisting of six six-line stanzas and a three-line envoy. The end words of the first stanza are repeated in varied order as end words in the other stanzas and also recur in the envoy.

Shakespearean: A 14-line sonnet consisting of three quatrains of abab cdcd efef followed by a couplet, gg. Shakespearean sonnets generally use iambic pentameter.

Sonnet: A lyric poem that consists of 14 lines which usually have one or more conventional rhyme schemes.

Verse: A single metrical line of poetry.

Villanelle: A 19-line poem consisting of five tercets and a final quatrain of two rhymes. The first and third lines of the first tercet repeat alternately as a refrain closing the succeeding stanzas and joined as the final couplet of the quatrain.

Check Again: Things you thought you knew all about!

Ellipsis Marks (aka ...): Use ellipsis marks when omitting a word, phrase, line, paragraph, or more from a quoted passage.

Ellipsis marks are not to be used in stories or poems to suggest pause. This is a very common mistake with writers. Instead, try using a long hyphen mark, or stating that there is a pause.

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February & March Magazine Issues

March 15, 2012

The February and March issues of Sweet Designs Magazine are now online, featuring a combined 53 new articles and features!!

- Cover: Stephanie Lynn reflects on 5 years
- Cover: India (of Darn-licious knitwear)
- Life in the dumps (moving in with my bf)
- The difference between men and women
- Angels among us (parts 1 and 2)
- Arts graduates & the dark night of the soul
- Triple threat (how I survived my teen yrs)
- Dating isn't easy (my true story)
- How to turn not-so-great gifts ... (fashion)
- Ten reasons to love being single
- Taking the big leap (college)
- Valentine's Day (not what you'd expect!)
- The last of the cold (hopefully) (fashion)
- A month full of love
- Ten tips for successful airline travel
- Reasons I love writing for SDM
- Who needs love?
- They're not all the same
- The life I'm glad I don't have (fiction)
- Professional dress/ finding Fendi (fashion)
- An airport anniversary: a true story
- Inappropriate Facebook photos
- The perks of a big city (college)
- A night(mare) to forget (part 2)
- The Anita Blake series (book review)
- Saving June by Hannah Harrington (book)
- Under the Mesquite by GG McCall (book)
- The Lullaby by Sarah Dessen (book)
- If I Stay by Gayle Foreman (book review)
- My sweetheart (original poetry)
- Isn't it funny (original poetry)
- The stranger (original poetry)
- A winter wonderland (original poetry)
- One night valentine
- The thick envelopes (college acceptance)
- Southern love
- Healthy hair and vitamins
- It's a date (dating idea alternatives)
- The 30 hour famine
- School's out forever!
- Marching right back into spring? (fashion)
- Dear John
- When TV shows depict your life
- 3 Fun ways to rock spring's hottest trends
- Neglected teeth
- Starting something new
- Guy movies
- To hesitate or dive in?
- Deadly, by Julie Chibbaro (book review)
- Beastly, by Alex Flinn (book review)
- I don't care (poetry)
- Together, alone (poetry)

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