Direct [not long-winded] Narrative

Hopper, Gale, Foote & Griffith on narrative:

 

“In narrating an incident the writer should begin with the circumstances in which it occurred and the events immediately preceding it. Do not begin with unnecessary explanations or remote and inconsequential events.

An indirect or long-winded approach bores the reader and destroys the impact of the story.

Furthermore, you may get lost in a maze of inconsequential details or exhaust yourself before you have narrated the climax of your story.

Suppose Susan is telling how she and Steve were nearly drowned when they rowed into the ship’s channel at Gloucester, Massachusetts, and their boat was swamped by a passing freighter.

This story should probably begin with their taking the boat out. The writer can then concentrate on how, unthinkingly, they rowed into the channel and on the ensuing events together with their emotional reactions to them. The story should not begin with an explanation of why the couple decided to vacation in Gloucester. Nor is it necessary to say that on the preceding evening a guest at their hotel suggested the excursion, or even that they were eager to get out on the water because they had been kept indoors for three days by a northeaster.”

 

Hopper, Gale, Foote, and Griffith‘s book, Essentials of English, is an excellent resource for writers of all kinds. You can find it here.

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Be Thou Funny; Nay, Hilarious!

[found on thewritepractice.com; by Joe Bunting]

Joe Bunting’s Commandments to Writing Funny”

“1. Thou Shalt Not Worry About Offending

First and most important, if you’re overly concerned about what others will think, don’t try your hand at funny . . . . stay true to your voice and integrity.

2. Thou Shalt Pay Attention to the Mundane

Jerry Seinfield wasn’t funny because he could do impersonations, or was overly animated or creative. He was funny because he told the truth about the mundane….

3. Thou Shalt Take Clichés to Extremes

…when there was report after report about the Occupy Movement marching on streets all over the nation, I wrote Occupy Marches on Sesame Street—twentysomething angst taking on the puppets who lied to them first.

Taking cliches to the extreme is the bedrock to satire.

4. Thou Shalt Use Metaphors and Similes Like the Bubonic Plague

(First, see Commandments 1 and 3.) Metaphors and similes are to funny as Hugh Grant is to romantic comedy.”

To read the entire article by Joe Bunting, click here.

[found on http://thewritepractice.com/four-commandments-to-writing-funny/]

Get Your Mind Out of Your Way

[found on writetodone.com; by Ollin Morales of Courage 2 Create]

“What if I told you that the biggest threat to your writing is not your lack of passion, your lack of creativity, or your lack of skill?

What if I told you that the biggest threat to your writing is… your mind?

That’s right. Your mind is the biggest obstacle standing between you and all the work you are trying to accomplish.

Our mind is often the one that needs the most convincing that our writing is worthwhile. This is because our mind is hard-wired to protect us from any possible danger.  You see, in order to protect us, our mind initially perceives anything it encounters as a threat—including your writing.

If this sounds strange, and kind of primitive, as if your mind is trying to protect you from a tiger hiding behind a tree in a jungle—then you’re absolutely right.

Your mind is still pretty primordial. So, your job as a writer is to hack into this primordial, hunter-gatherer mind, and update its software so that your mind works for you.

Here are just 4 ways to hack your mind so that you can become infinitely more creative:

1. Bypass Your Mind

…Get rid of all the thinking. Wipe your mind clean. Take a deep breath, and just go for it….

2.  Trick Your Mind

…promise your mind that you will continue to worry about paying your bills AFTER you write a brief outline of that freelance article you’re working on….

3. Lower Your Mind’s Expectations

…If your mind sees that you’re making a big bet, then, it will immediately advise you against it—it may even try to thwart you from accomplishing the monumental task you’ve set up for yourself….

So, don’t make that big bet. Make a small one, instead.

4. Recalibrate Your Mind

…the return on your initial investment does not appear until much much later. This is something your mind has trouble understanding, and it’s your job to help your mind understand it….hack into your mind so that your mind works for you.”

To read the entire article from Ollin Morales at writetodone.com, click here.

[found on http://writetodone.com/4-ways-to-hack-into-your-mind-and-become-infinitely-more-creative/]

Two Words? Oops, One Word

[found on quickanddirtytips.com; by Bonnie Trenga Mills]

“Do you want to get ahead (one word) or are you cooking an esoteric dish and want to get a head (two words)? That one little space can make a big difference in meaning: Either you are moving past others in business or you are purchasing a skull…..

When it comes to pairs such as “apart” with no space and “a part” with a space, the spelling doesn’t matter when you’re talking; both sound the same. When you write the words, however, you might forget to add a space, or you might add an unnecessary one. This problem crops up with all kinds of words, but in this episode we’re focusing on words beginning with the letter “a.”

Words That Start With “A”

Here’s a short list of pairs like “ahead” and “a head”: “alight” and “a light,” “abuzz” and “a buzz,” “apart” and “a part,” and, lastly, “ahold” and “a hold.” As you can see from this list, the one-worders beginning with “a” can be various parts of speech: “ahead” is an adverb, “alight” is a verb,” and “abuzz” is an adjective. The two-worders, on the other hand, consist of an article—the word “a”—and a noun: “light,” “buzz,” “part,” and “hold.” True, these words can sometimes be verbs, but when something follows the article “a,” it’s a noun (unless something such as an adjective comes between the article and the noun, as in “a delicious cake”).

“Alight” Versus “A Light”

Let’s see these four pairs in action. The first two—“alight”/“a light” and “abuzz”/“a buzz”—are the easy ones. You could say, “That annoying bee wants to alight on my nose.” This means the bee wants to land on your nose, and there’s no space in “alight.” If you say, “He turned on a light”—with a space—that means he was no longer enveloped in darkness.

“Abuzz” Versus “A Buzz”

In keeping with the bee theme, here’s our next example: “I heard a buzz.” A quick test for those listening: Is there a space or not? Well, yes, there is! “A buzz” with a space means “a buzzing noise.” “Abuzz” with no space is an adjective that means alive with activity, as in “The room became abuzz when the grammarian entered.”

To read the entire article from Grammar Girl, click here.

[found on http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/a-hold-or-ahold]

Tips on Capitalization in Titles

[found on grammar.about.com; by ]

“Style guides disagree on which words to capitalize in a title (of a book, article, essay, movie, song, or video game). Here’s a basic guide to the two most common methods: sentence case and title case….

There’s not a single set of rules for capitalizing words in a title. For most of us, it’s a matter of selecting one convention and sticking to it. The big decision is whether to go with sentence case (simple) or title case (a little less simple).

Sentence case (also known as Down style)

Capitalize only the first word of the title and any proper nouns: “Rules for capitalizing the words in a title.” This form, recommended by the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association for titles in reference lists, is popular with many online and print publications. In fact it’s now the standard form for titles and headlines in most countries–but not (yet) in the United States.

Title Case (also known as Headline Style or Up Style)

Capitalize the first and last words of the title and all nounspronounsadjectivesverbsadverbs, and subordinating conjunctions (if, because, as, that, and so on): “Rules for Capitalizing the Words in a Title.”

It’s the little words that style guides disagree on. The Chicago Manual of Style, for instance, notes that “articles (a, an, the), coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, for, nor), and prepositions, regardless of length, are lowercased unless they are the first or last word of the title.”

But The Associated Press Stylebook is fussier:

  • Capitalize the principal words, including prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters.
  • Capitalize an article—the, a, an—or words of fewer than four letters if it is the first or last word in a title.

Other guides say that prepositions and conjunctions of fewer than five letters should be in lowercase—except at the beginning or end of a title. (For additional guidelines, see the glossary entry for title case.)

So pick a form—any form. And then try to be consistent.”

[found on http://grammar.about.com/od/grammarfaq/f/capitalstitle.htm]

Die Not, My Adverb—Overwhelm Not

[found on huffingtonpost.com; by Maddie Crum]

In Defense of Adverbs

“Like like and other filler words, certain adverbs have saturated our speech and our writing, making once-meaningful phrases seem totally vapid. The idea that adverbs are just extraneous fluff has led to a smear campaign against them, and it’s become common to suggest axing the part of speech altogether in order to make writing more powerful. This forceful call for more forceful writing is misguided; adverbs can be phonetically pleasing, can imbue sentences with subtlety, and should not be entirely shunned.

First, a refresher: What does an adverb do? It tells us more about a verb. If a character is running from point A to point B, “he ran” is a description that doesn’t sufficiently set the scene. How did he run? Quickly? Scatteredly? “He ran quickly and scatteredly” is less powerful than “he scampered,” an adverbless sentence that conveys the same point more succinctly. And so, many writers have spoken vehemently against the use of adverbs.

This is unfortunate because when used well, adverbs serve an important purpose, and can enhance writing rather than detract from it.”

[found on http://www.huffingtonpost.com/madeleine-crum/in-defense-of-adverbs_b_4860325.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063]

Punctuation Is Your Friend . . .

[found on thepunctuationguide.com]

 . . .

“An ellipsis is a set of three periods ( . . . ) indicating an omission. Each period should have a single space on either side, except when adjacent to a quotation mark, in which case there should be no space.”

“The em dash is perhaps the most versatile punctuation mark. Depending on the context, the em dash can take the place of commasparentheses, or colons—in each case to slightly different effect.

Notwithstanding its versatility, the em dash is best limited to two appearances per sentence. Otherwise, confusion rather than clarity is likely to result.

Do not mistake the em dash (—) for the slightly narrower en dash (–) or the even narrower hyphen (-). Those marks serve different purposes and are further explained in other sections.”

!

The most flagrant way a writer demonstrates contempt for his readers is by ignoring punctuation altogether. A close second is the abundant use of the exclamation point. Some writers even use three or more exclamation points, lest the reader not fully grasp the significance of what is being said.  To be effective, the exclamation point should be used in moderation.”

[ found on http://www.thepunctuationguide.com/index.html ]

How To Manage Your Edits

“As an editor, I have heard horror stories about authors who didn’t know how to process the edits they received back from their editors. Instead of asking what to do with the Word document, [caution, you’re going to scream] some of the authors printed the full manuscript, compared item by item, then RETYPED the entire manuscript.

Don’t let this be you.

Firstly, your editor is on your TEAM. An editor wants you to succeed. And even though you may feel like we are all jackals, we don’t really bite. Ask us questions—especially when you feel overwhelmed or uncertain.”

— Billi Joy Carson / Senior Editor, Editing Addict

  EDITOR Sends Completed File Back to AUTHOR:

THE AUTHOR’S JOB:

1. READ through document

2. CHOOSE FROM (to accept and/or reject changes)

a. Accept All Changes in Document

b. Accept and Move to Next

c. Reject All Changes in Document

d. Reject and Move to Next

3. SHORTCUT for authors

a. Save TWO* versions of the file you received from your editor.

i. File A [edits accepted]

1. In Word Doc, under REVIEW tab [File A]

2. Select Accept All Changes in Document [File A]

ii. File B [edits visible]

1. Leave the file the way you received from the editor

b. Read through File A side-by-side with File B

i. If you find an edit you don’t want

1. In File B

a. Under REVIEW tab [File B]

b. Select Reject and Move to Next [File B]

ii. When you are finished reading File A, and correcting File B,

1. In File B

a. Under REVIEW tab [File B]

b. Select Accept All Changes in Document [File B]

c. File B is now fully edited, and author approved

*At Editing Addict, I do this beforehand for my authors, however, not all editors have the [File A & File B] policy, and expect the author to do it on their end. How To Manage Your Edits

How to Accept and/or Reject Tracked Changes in a Word Document: YouTube Video

Still have questions? Leave a comment below, or send  a message to the editor: billijoycarson@editingaddict.com. Teamwork brings success!

River Boat Writer

“The process of writing a novel is like taking a journey by boat. You have to continually set yourself on course. If you get distracted or allow yourself to drift, you will never make it to the destination. It’s not like highly defined train tracks or a highway; this is a path that you are creating discovering. The journey is your narrative. Keep to it and there will be a tale told.” 

― Walter Mosley, This Year You Write Your Novel