I Don’t Know How to Finish

I Can’t Believe it! I’ve written a book! I’ve created people who ran around and did things, loved each other, hated each other, saved each other from danger. I love them ALL! Yesss! But I can’t seem to stop going back into their lives and “fixing” this and “fixing” that. Just in case. Two posts ago (“Blame it on Writer’s Block”), I wrote: We need to choose one story/book/article and be faithful to it until the end. When we getRead more

Malapropisms — Say it Isn’t So

From WIKIPEDIA, the free encyclopedia: A malapropism (also called a Dogberryism) is the use of an incorrect word in place of a word with a similar sound (which is often a paronym), resulting in a nonsensical, often humorous utterance. An example is Yogi Berra’s statement: “Texas has a lot of electrical votes,” rather than “electoral votes”. The word malapropism comes ultimately from the French mal à propos meaning “inappropriate” via “Mrs. Malaprop”, a character in the Richard Brinsley Sheridan comedyRead more

Oops! Dammit! & Other Exclamations

I have a potty mouth so I’m not doling out advice about restrictions on some of these words because I’m a prude or anything. You can trust me on that one. Some genres tolerate cursing/swearing and expletives much more than others. Some genres (Victorian Romance, for example) have their own wonderful way of calling someone out without actually using any curse words or expletives. Good old subtext rides again! I’m not a religious zealot either but I strongly suggest weRead more

Remain In-Tense — Verbs 2

In my editing travels, I haven’t run across too many problems with simple future tenses. _______ SIMPLE FUTURE I will play, you will play, he/she/it will play, they will play, we will play or I am going to play, you are going to play, he/she/it is going to play, we are going to play, they are going to play SIMPLE FUTURE CONTINUOUS I will be playing, you will be playing, he/she/it will be playing, they will be playing, we willRead more

Remain In-Tense – Verbs 1

Because verb tenses are so very important for communication, I am going to divide a chapter from Really Stupid Writing Mistakes: How to Avoid Them into two different posts. (The whole chapter in one post would be way too long. In fact, please forgive me for the length of this one. There was no good place to break it.) _______ Some languages do not use any more than three tenses: Past, Present, and Simple Future: I play, I played, IRead more

The Mysterious Comma

  From Wikipedia: In the 3rd century BC, Aristophanes of Byzantium invented a system of single dots (distinctiones) that separated verses (colometry), and indicated the amount of breath needed to complete each fragment of text, when reading aloud. The different lengths were signified by a dot at the bottom, middle, or top of the line. For a short passage (a komma), a media distinctio dot was placed mid-level ( · ). This is the origin of the concept of a comma, althoughRead more

Making Your Grammar App Weep

One of the things I run across frequently when editing fiction MSs (manuscripts) is narrative that reads like the author has obeyed every suggestion that his/her grammar application has pointed out. This makes for extremely boring narrative. (I’ll get to dialogue in another post.) Some computer writing programs point out only basic grammatical errors. Others are more eager to nitpick. (It is possible to change the settings of most grammar apps (applications).) No matter how sophisticated the app, however, aRead more