Posts Tagged ‘writing’

It’s My Turn!

June 25, 2012

 

I’ll be the interviewee on the popular #sffwrtcht this Wednesday at 9:00 PM EST.

That’s right, folks, it’s ME! No kidding. I know, me too. I’m really nervous too.

You going to be there to support me?

Grammatical Error Personality Type

June 18, 2012

As a follow up to last week’s wildly popular Your Punctuation Personality Type, a post Bryan Thomas Schmidt, @BryanThomasS hosted on his blog, we’ve dug through the (imaginary) research archives for similar studies.  Not only is English the most widely spoken language in the Western world, but most of us sat through torturous high school English classes that should have cured us of our grammatical errors. Yet we all have grammar issues that trip us up in writing. A recent (totally made up) study examined what your grammar weakness means about you.

someecards.com - Let's meet offline to lower the odds of me being turned off by your shoddy grammar and punctuationRun-on sentences: You don’t know when to stop. You never shut up and you never stop going. People find you and your nervous energy nerve-wracking. You tend to have trouble with moderation. You can’t eat just one.

You work well with: Comma, Hyphen, Exclamation, At Symbol

Avoid: Period

Comma splice (comma used to separate two simple sentences): You have trouble setting yourself apart from others and tend to blend into the crowd  Not assertive enough to use a period, confident enough to use a semicolon, wacky enough to use parentheses, or snobbish enough to use an em dash, you’re always looking to someone else for acceptance or permission. You have a hard time saying no to people. You may be described as a wannabe or as trying too hard.

You work well with: Comma, Question Mark, Ampersand, Hash

Avoid: Brackets

Incomplete sentences, Split infinitives, Beginning a sentence with a conjunction, Ending a sentence with a preposition: You’re a rebel and like to live on the edge. You know these aren’t really errors but that editors dislike them and they make people over 50 twitch. You like to stick it to the man. You may be a daredevil and/or a drug user.

You work well with: Slash, Apostrophe, Hyphen

Avoid: Em dash

Using an apostrophe for plural: You are the confident, laid back type. You give the orders, someone else handles the details. You can bullshit your way through most things. You have colleagues and followers more than you have friends.

You work well with: Em dash, Asterisk

Avoid: Question Mark

Missing serial or Oxford comma: You’re British.

You work well with: Semicolon, Full Stop (Period)

Avoid: Ellipses

Using adjectives in place of adverbs (“ly” words): You are very social and like to hang out. You’re too busy having fun to care how those stuck-up writing people use language. You are at every party. You have 500 contacts in your phone and don’t remember who half of them are. You may be in college.

You work well with: Hyphen, Comma, At Symbol, Parentheses

Avoid: Hash

someecards.com - It's not you, it's your grammar.

Using “suppose” for “supposed” or “of” for “have”: You need to read a real book once in a while. Facebook is not a real book, and doesn’t count.

You work well with:  Quotation Mark, At Symbol, Ellipses

Avoid: Brackets

 

Using “I” when “me” is correct (example: He gave the candy to Jane and I.): You follow the rules. You are so afraid of being wrong by using “me” when you should use “I” that you always use “I” and therefore still get it wrong half the time, just the other half. You were the teacher’s pet and are the boss’s favorite. You apologize a lot.

You work well with:  Question Mark, Period, Brackets

Avoid: Bullets

Homonyms/Homophones (you’re/your, their/they’re/there): You tend to be wrapped up in yourself or your own world. You can be casual to the point of carelessness. You’re not very observant and you’re never on time. You think the rules apply to other people. You’re the one who won’t remember the name of the person you wake up in bed with.

You work well with: Ellipses, Apostrophe

Avoid: Semicolon

Who/Whom: You’re one of the good guys. You like to have fun and you have a lot of friends. You don’t want to know when you should use “whom” because who says that anyway besides pretentious twats? You spend a lot of time on Facebook.

You work well with: At Symbol, Ampersand, Comma

Avoid: Quotation Mark

Whom/Who: (using “whom” when “who” is correct): You’re the pretentious twat.

You work well with: Em dash, Brackets

Avoid: Ellipses

Its/It’s: You are dedicated and responsible and make a lot of sacrifices. You’re the one who worked your butt off to get a C average while the nerds got A’s just by showing up to class. You let that sort of thing motivate you, though, and you get ahead by being consistent and reliable rather than because you’re particularly skilled or talented. People admire your work ethic.

You work well with: Comma, Semicolon, Period

Avoid: Em dash

Affect/Effect: You are easygoing and fun to be around. You know a lot of things, but the difference between these two words isn’t one of them. You make other people feel comfortable and like to make sure everyone is included. You were popular in school but stood up for the kids getting dumped into the trash cans after lunch.

You work well with: Comma, Parentheses, Ellipses,

Avoid: En dash

Use of ALL CAPS: You are either still trying to get a handle on this newfangled thing called the Internet, or you’re a complete moron.

You work well with: Ampersand, Exclamation

Avoid: Hash

Special thanks to Gabrielle Harbowy, @gabrielle_h for editing this for ~ahem~ grammatical errors.

Your Punctuation Personality Type: A Guest Post

June 11, 2012

I’m guest posting over on the blog of Bryan Thomas Schmidt, @BryanThomasS, with a funny called Your Punctuation Personality Type.

It’s sort of a combo of Jung and Briggs Myers and your daily horoscope that I totally pulled out of my ass.

Enjoy!

Your Punctuation Personality Type

In Which I Am Wounded But Triumphant

May 29, 2012

Or: What a SciFi/Fantasy Writer Can Learn From A Gatoraid Bottle

I met and did battle with a worthy foe this weekend. He was tenacious and strong, with the heart of a warrior. But in the end, I went home and he went in the recycle bin. As a consequence, I woke up on the Saturday morning of my planned Writing Retreat with a swollen, infected finger and a bunch of crazy ideas about the connections between being a scifi/fantasy writer and life.

I think the first parallel is rather obvious. The fact that a Gatoraid bottle being so frickin’ impossible to open that I scraped half the skin off my finger trying to get a drink from that evil thing has now become a story worthy of a blog post and the words “warrior” “evil” and “triumphant” is, I think, a consequence of being a writer. It colors our lives in a way that makes it impossible to talk about the cap on a bottle of a sports drink being stuck without making it into an epic drama.

But what really made me write this post was to point out a way, not at all related to writing, that being a reader of scifi/fantasy, or of anything really, can improve your everyday life. See, that Gatoraid bottle, (which I FINALLY got open) took a chunk of skin out of the side of my finger. Now, me being that kind of girl, I was inclined to ignore it. Bit of soap and water and once it stopped bleeding, life goes on. At least, until I woke up in the morning and the area was hot, red, shiny, and there was a suspiciously yellow lump that yielded nasty, gooey pus when I squeezed it. Nice.

So as I’m showering and planning where I need to go to buy a first aid kit, it occurred to me that the last description I’d read of an infected cut was in a scifi book. (Specifically Hunger Games.) In fact, it’s something you encounter fairly often, especially in fantasy, what with all the swords and epic battles and primitive conditions and the fact that there always seems to be a need to take a journey on foot through the winderness. (You get a horse if you’re lucky.) And I thought that it was a good thing I knew all the symptoms from all that reading I’d done.

(Not that I wouldn’t have pulled up WebMD if I hadn’t known why my finger was hot and swollen and oozing puss. Not that I think I would have made it to 33 with two kids I haven’t killed yet and not have known what that meant already.)

Still, the moral of the story (yep, there was a point) is: READ! You never know what you’ll learn or when you’ll need it.

Oh, and in spite of my (hugely over-dramatized) encounter with a (minor, almost nonexistent) medical emergency, I managed to average 9,000 words a day over my three day weekend. That’s right folks. Nine Thousand Words a Day.

Holy $*#%!

Prose Pet Peeves

January 23, 2012

Over the past two years I’ve tried to be a good little author and read things I “should” not just the things that I’d have picked as no more than a for-pleasure reader. I’m glad I’ve done this. I’ve run across some gems I would otherwise have missed, and I’ve learned things from some absolute stinkers I really wish I had missed.

One thing I’ve learned, is that some things that I simply hate in a book aren’t necessarily wrong, they’re just not my style. (Some of them I think SHOULD be wrong, but they don’t let me make the rules.) Does this happen to you? Well reviewed books that just leave you flat for a reason you can actually pin down and say ‘this is what ruined the book for me’?

Here’s one I’ve encountered in several books lately:

Internal monologue. (Just for clarification, we’re talking about third person POV here, not the internal narration of first person POV.)

Not that I think it’s always a bad thing. Clever and very, very sparing use (as in once or twice in the entire book) works really well for me. That one, brief contradictory or sardonic thought in the middle of a scene where it’s important or enlightening to know that the POV character is thinking something you can’t get from body language or that just works so much better in a quick snippet can make a whole scene.

Ex: He said what?

versus

John couldn’t believe Jim had said such a thing.

Depending on the mood, voice, character, the internal monologue there can be exactly what you need rather than the longer explanation that carries much less of an impact.

That said:

I genuinely hate, no, despise regular internal monologue, especially when it’s used for exposition. To me, it’s the worst kind of telling. For starters, it’s unrealistic. Think about it. You’re seventeen and the love of your life, who you were convinced didn’t care about you at all, just declared his love.

Is this your internal reaction:

He loves me? OMG, he loves me! How long have I been in love with him? I’ve waited so long. But I never thought he’d ever love me back. Am I dreaming? I can’t believe this!

Or is this more like it:

Speechless, random waves of shock, elation, giddiness, disbelief. Get choked up, tear up a bit. Want to say something to him but can’t seem to form a coherent thought, much less articulate it. Then:

“You do? But I thought– Really? I’m– OMG, I can’t believe– Really?”

We don’t usually think in full sentences. Of course, now that I’ve said that, you’re thinking in complete sentences. But really, day to day, just daydreaming or musing or even in conversation, you might come out with a complete sentence in replying to someone, but you didn’t craft it in its entirety before it came out of your mouth. We think a lot faster than we talk or write. In part because we’re thinking in ideas, images, feelings. NOT completely articulated thoughts.

So reading it that way in prose just drives me up the wall. It distances me from the character because I’m not experiencing this with them, I’m being told about it in dry facts and thought-out responses.

Is this a universal truth? Heck no. In fact, one of the books I read lately that prompted this post was the latest by one of THE name writers in that genre. Clearly there are talented authors and editors who think I’m totally wrong about this. But reader-Leah is convinced that she does NOT like internal monologue.

How about you?