Write Numbers Right in Fiction

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Zoe’s book, Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days, is a fresh and innovative refocusing of your novel or novella. Through a few simple—and fun—steps, Zoe helps writers take their not-ready-for-publication and/or rejected manuscripts to a spit-polish finish. Writing is hard work, yes, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. —Eva Marie Everson, best-selling and multiple award-winning author, conference director, president of Word Weavers International, Inc.

Learn more at the end of the post.

For writing numbers for fiction (opposed to articles), my best advice to you is to read this comprehensive article by Fiction Editor Beth Hill. 

I also read through many of Hill’s answers to the comments and questions she received. Check those out too. Below I give you examples for correct forms of numbers for fiction I found interesting.

General Numbers

Narrative:

Jeremy’s tally showed 31,102 people attended the concert. (For numbers greater than 100)

Thirty-one thousand one hundred two people attended the concert. (Never start a sentence with a numeral.)

Jeremy learned fifty-five people attended the party. (Numbers from zero through one hundred.)

Dialogue:

“I learned thirty-one thousand one hundred two people attended the concert,” Jeremy said. (less common and more formal for dialogue)

“I learned thirty-one thousand one hundred and two people attended the concert,” Jeremy said. (more common for dialogue)

Time

Narrative:

image by geralt

Jeremy arrived at 5:32 p.m. Jess entered at 6:00 a.m. (only one period)

Jeremy arrived at four o’clock. Jess arrived at nine. Elle showed up at ten fifteen.

(image by geralt)

Dialogue

“Jeremy arrived at nine p.m. He left the next morning at eight and arrived home at one thirty,” said Paul. “It’s two twenty-three now.”

Narrative:

The head officer told them they’d rise at 0600.

Dialogue:

“Men, you will rise at zero six hundred,” the head officer said.

Mom gave me a stern look. “You will rise at oh six hundred.”

Narrative and Dialogue:

His two o’clock appointment arrived on time. But his three o’clock never showed up. (no hyphens)

Address

Narrative:

Sandy hunted for 638 Hemingway Drive.

Dialogue:

“I’m hunting for Six thirty-eight Hemingway Drive, but can’t find it.

(image by Coker-Free-Vector Images)

Hill said that Route 66 is a name and can be used in this format for both narrative and dialogue.

Narrative:

Jeremy turned onto Route 66.

Dialogue:

“I always take Route 66.” (Same logic for a TV Channel. “I like the news on Channel 5.”)

Scripture

Narrative: For encouragement, Jeremy brought up Romans 8:28 and Jeremiah 29:11.

Dialogue: “For encouragement, look up Romans eight twenty-eight and Jeremiah twenty-nine eleven.”

What number rule from Hill’s article did you find helpful?

Buy Page

I finished reading Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days. I have AND will highly recommend it to anyone who dabbles in fiction. It’s one of the best “how to” books I’ve ever read.

—Marsha Hubler, Director Montrose Christian Writers Conference

If you want to increase your chance of hearing yes instead of sorry or not a fit for our list at this time, this book is for you. If you want to develop stronger story plots with characters that are hard to put down, this book is for you. Through McCarthy’s checklists and helpful exercises and corresponding examples, you will learn how to raise the tension, hone your voice, and polish your manuscript. I need this book for my clients and the many conferees I meet at writer’s conferences around the country. Thank you, Zoe. A huge, #thumbsup, for Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days.  

—Diana L. Flegal, literary agent, and freelance editor

Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript is a self-editing encyclopedia! Each chapter sets up the targeted technique, examples show what to look for in your manuscript, then proven actions are provided to take your writing to the next level. Whether you are a seasoned writer or a newbie, you need this book! 

—Sally Shupe, freelance editor, aspiring author

Need to rework your book? Zoe M. McCarthy’s step-by-step reference guide leads you through the process, helping you fight feeling overwhelmed and wrangle your manuscript into publishable shape in 30 days. Tailor Your Manuscript delivers a clear and comprehensive action plan.

—Elizabeth Spann Craig, Twitteriffic owner, bestselling cozy mystery author of the “Myrtle Clover Mysteries,” the “Southern Quilting Mysteries,” and the “Memphis Barbeque Mysteries,” http://elizabethspanncraig.com/blog/  

Zoe has developed a guiding resource for beginning writers. Her method is designed for brainstorming, shaping, and revising the early draft of a manuscript. General and specific tips are offered for applying rules of writing to enhance one’s story for a workable second draft. By exploring the plot line of Love Comes Softly, writers may examine their own work for stronger plot and characterization. Valuable tools are offered that enable the writer to develop a workable draft in only 30 days!

—Yvonne Lehman, award-winning, best-selling author of 48 novels

Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days is chock-full of practical techniques. Numerous examples clarify problem areas and provide workable solutions. The action steps and blah busters McCarthy suggests will help you improve every sentence, every paragraph of your novel. If you follow her advice and implement her strategies, a publisher will be much more likely to issue you a contract.

—Denise K. Loock, freelance editor, lightningeditingservices.com

A concise, detailed, step by step resource for all writers. 

— Jamie West, editor coordinator, Pelican Book Group

Zoe’s writing blog has always intrigued me. As a high school English teacher, I can attest that her tips on good grammar and her hints for excellent sentence and paragraph structure are spot on. But as an author, I also appreciate her ever-present advice that excellent skills are not enough: you must tell a good story, too. This book clearly shows how to do it all.

—Tanya Hanson, “Writing the Trails to Tenderness,” author of Christmas Lights, Outlaw Heart, Hearts Crossing Ranch anthology, and coming in 2019, Tainted Lady, Heart of Hope, and Angel Heart. www.tanyahanson.com

McCarthy crafted an amazing self-help book that will strengthen any writer, whether new or seasoned, with guidance and self-evaluation tools.

–Erin Unger, author of Practicing Murder, releasing in 2019

2 thoughts on “Write Numbers Right in Fiction

  1. Zoe, you have such amazing attention to detail! My head swims with all of that.
    Of course, that is what makes your book so valuable.
    Thank you!

     
     
    1. Hi Jane, I often write about what I’m working and researching at the moment. What I’m working on now has a lot of numbers. Beth Hill’s post has helped me so much.

       
       

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