Skip to main content


Showing posts from May, 2012

When Mistakes Aren't Mistakes

I'm a stickler for grammar when it comes to writing, but I've also learned along the way that fiction writing is different from other types of writing. It follows different rules. Some of those rules are fairly fixed while others are apparently subjective. In dialogue, we are allowed to make PUGS errors if it fits the character and the needs of the line. (PUGS = Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, Spelling) Some authors (I'm guilty of this one) use comma+then rather than comma+and then or semicolon+then, because it just sounds better sometimes. In the narrative, we can include things like short sentence fragments if they don't stumble the reader. In fact, I think they're great if used well. So, my question to you is: When is a mistake not a mistake? What stumbles you in fiction, and which mistakes can actually make the writing better?

Grammar Police Monday - Pst...Your Participle Is Dangling

Today I'm covering the topic of the dangling participle, which is a type of misplaced modifier. This particular grammar error is an easy one to make — especially when writers begin tightening their prose — and it's not only a source of embarrassment to the writer, but can be a source of humor for the reader. We want our readers to laugh at funny parts of our stories, but not because of mistakes like these. First, you need to understand what a participle is. It is a verb ending in -ing (present) or -ed (past) that is acting like an adjective. (Note: past participles can also end in -d, -n, -en, or -t. Ex: swept ) A participle phrase contains one of these and often comes at the beginning of a sentence in the form of an introductory phrase set off by a comma. Let me give you some examples. Sweating bullets, I hurried to finish my algebra test before the bell rang. In this sentence, 'sweating' is the participle and 'sweating bullets' is the participle phrase. Here&#

Author Jennifer McMurrain & New Beginnings

Today I am excited to introduce author Jennifer McMurrain and Whispered Beginnings , an anthology containing a story she wrote called New Beginnings . Jennifer has graciously agreed to do an interview--and give away a free copy of her book--so I'll turn it over to her. But be sure to enter the drawing before you go! Tell us about Whispered Beginnings . Whispered Beginnings: A Clever Fiction Anthology is a collection built by writers, new and published, who have participated in the weekly challenges. We were given three words: new, whisper, and spring; and had to come up with a story between 250 and 2,000 words long dealing with relationships and/or romance. The anthology, as a whole, contains stories that flow across many genres: fantasy, humor, and mystery, just to name a few.  My story, New Beginnings , is the story of a love so strong not even death can tear it apart. I am blessed to have a very talented mother who also has a story in Whispered Beginni

Grammar Police Monday - A Dash'll Do Ya

Today I'm going to cover some less common marks of punctuation as it relates to writing fiction, mainly dashes, parentheses & semicolons.You may have occasion to use these, but you'll want to use them properly and sparingly. Why? Because improper use and overuse can pull the reader out of your story – something you should avoid. Before I discuss proper use of the marks I mentioned above, let's cover the issue of overuse. As with many other details in fiction (e.g. repetitive words and phrases), less common marks of punctuation should be used sparingly. If not, they will lose their effectiveness and possibly become an irritant to the reader.   Take the exclamation point, for example. Your sentence structure and dialogue should be strong enough that you rarely need one. Occasionally you might, but keep its use to a minimum. And, although I can't find a reference to back me up at the moment, I've been told not to use both a question mark and an exclamation ma

Kreativ Blogger Award

   Blogger and writer Elise Fallson kindly passed this award on to me. Check out her blog & consider following her on Twitter . She's a talented lady & a friendly blogger. Here are the rules: 1) Thank and link back to the awarding blog. (Well duh!) 2) Answer the following 7 questions. 3) Provide 10 random factoids about yourself. 4) Pass this on to 7 deserving others. ### 1) What's your favorite song? How much time do you have? *grin*  I like lots of different music. Hmm. I'll name a few, but I'm gonna show my age...   Call It Love by Poco Sad Eyes by R obert John   Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler   I Go Crazy by Paul Davis ( Cool Night is good, too)    Still The One by Orleans -- the song I have set as the ringtone for my hubby of 17 years ;) --  Dance With Me is also a fav. The Circle Game by Joni Mitchell   How Deep Is Your Love by the Bee Gees  Still by the Commodores. Melissa Maygrove's Playlist 1 by Melissa Maygrove on Groovesha

Author Noelle Marchand on POV

Today I'm excited to introduce Christian fiction author Noelle Marchand who's joining us with a guest post on POV. Noelle is a member of both the RWA and ACFW . She won national and state awards for journalism as a student and sold three books before graduating from college (this month). Noelle is represented by Karen Ball of the Steve Laube Agency. Here's Noelle... Point of View: From Ordinary to Extraordinary The Basics It doesn’t take long to figure out the basic principles of POV. A simple internet search will yield a treasure trove of information. If you’re going to write for the Christian romance market like I do, it becomes even easier because most publishers prefer third-person limited. That’s a fancy way of saying they expect you to write in past tense, use internal dialogue, and construct the book’s universe only from what the hero and heroine (and perhaps a villain) are aware of through their memory, senses, or learned information throughout the story. If yo

Grammar Police Monday - There They're

As an extension of our confusable homophones from last week, I've decided to tackle a few in particular. Some of you may find this lesson simple, but enough people get these wrong that I felt it was worth addressing. Let's start off easy... Two, Too and To : Two = the number of something.       Sally has two kittens . Too = also / very.         I have kittens, too . They are too young to give away. Note: When using 'too' to mean 'also,' set it off with a comma(s). [Edited 6-24-13: Apparently, the comma-before-too rule is no longer a rule. See this post for clarification.] To is a preposition.        I took them back to their mother . There, Their and They're : There = location.         The ball is over there . Their = possessive pronoun.         Hurry! Go get their ball!. They're = contraction of 'they are.'        They're going to be angry if you lose their ball. (Hint: If you can substitu

Author Cynthia Simmons' Road To Publication

Today, I'm delighted to introduce Cynthia Simmons, author of Struggles and Triumphs:Women in History Who Overcame and its study guide, who's visiting to share with us her road to publication. ~~~~~ During the late nineties, I went through a very difficult time as I attempted to homeschool my youngest son who has disabilities. Through the hardship, I found comfort in researching history. I wanted to share what I learned with others, so I got interested in writing. In 2004 I joined Christian Authors Guild (CAG) and started to learn to write for publication. The group offered seminars and classes on writing, which I devoured. The leadership decided to put together a compilation of short stories. I dreamed up three stories and got them on paper. After many critiques and revisions, the committee accepted them into the book, The Desk in the Attic, which came out in 2005. I was thrilled to see my name in print. The group gave me plenty of experience and helped me master the writing s

Grammar Police Monday - Commonly Confused Words

Are we identical? Look closely... In the English language, there are many pairs of words that sound alike and are spelled almost alike, yet have entirely different meanings. Consequently, it's easy to write the wrong one and not realize it. To compound this problem, word processors do not recognize it as a misspelling and may not flag an incorrect usage as a mistake. Let me give you some examples: altar (a sacred table in a church) vs. alter ( which means to change) born (to start life) vs. borne (to carry) and... compliment (an admiring remark) vs. complement (an addition that improves something) What a difference a letter makes! Here are a few more: accept / except...affect / effect...coarse / course...discreet / discrete... pour / pore...past / / sight...and the list goes on. What do you do? Well, making yourself aware of them by reading through lists of these pairs can help. Keeping a dictionary (like ) open in your browser so you can easily ch