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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Workworking: Z is for ...

 ... zhh roundup of other great places to learn about zhh grammar.

Grammar Girl-The Queen on of this month's A to Z.
Chomp Chomp-interactive learning, lots of pictures, fun, quizzes, and even a YouTube channel
Purdue Owl-dry, but loaded with information and examples
Humorous Grammar Rules-for a good laugh. ex. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary. & One-word sentences? Eliminate. & Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
Margo Kelly-I found her through the A to Z challenge. She did grammar as well:)

Z is also for a zelebration... 

Congrats to all who finished the challenge and to all that attempted it. What a ride April has been. I've met new friends, spent way too much time blogging, and wished I had even more time to visit all the blogs in the challenge. Thanks to all the commenters who kept me writing. I <3<3<3 the writing community.

What's your favorite grammar site? Let me know in the comments and I'll add it to the list.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Wordworking: Y is for Your vs. You're

I have been waiting all month to share this e-card with you. My apologies if you're offended. It makes me giggle.

For the record:
Your = possessive pronoun
You're = contraction for you are
Your're (yes, I've seen this variety) is never correct.

When I was dating Stan, I invited him to Preference (it's a girls' choice dance). In answer, he made me something like this*:

And I still married him. Even when my English major roommate forbade me to see him ever again. Believe me, Stan knows the difference now. Not only that, but he's a published author of one boring dissertation and a non-fiction book for military families out this fall. Now he corrects my grammar.

What words do you routinely mess up? A to Zers, we're almost done!

* note recreated using Ransom Note Generator.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Wordworking: X is for !!!!!!!

Please, whatever you do, avoid exclamation points in your writing! They are so annoying and the words should be strong enough to stand without them! And above all else, resist the temptation to use multiple exclamation points to really bring a point home!!!!

That is all.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Wordworking: W is for Who vs. That

You know Maria, she is the girl that used to run track.
You know the socket wrench, it's the one who is red.

If you're like me, you read the first sentence and didn't think anything was wrong with it. Hopefully the second sentence drew some red flags. Even my "polished" MS was peppered with thats, that should have been whos, two months ago, but not anymore.

Use who when talking about a person and that when you're talking about an object.

You know Maria, she is the girl who used to run track.
You know the socket wrench, it's the one that is red.

Does who vs. that ever confuse you?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Wordworking: V is for very (and so)

As in, "I am so very happy I'm doing the A to Z challenge."

Very: an adverb (boo) used for emphasis (double boo)
So: an adverb (boo) used for emphasis (double boo)

Like Nancy E. Turner's just, very and so are words to avoid. Search them out in revisions, remove them ,and replace the verb they modified with a more specific, effective verb.

"I am thrilled I'm doing A to Z challenge."

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wordworking: T is for There, They're and Their

If you missed yesterday's post, I messed up my calendar and assigned Janet Gurtler the wrong letter for her If I Lost You Birthday, so yes, I know everyone else is doing U.

There, they're, and their may sound the same, but we shouldn't use them interchangeably.

  • There can be a noun, pronoun, adjective, or adverb. It means "that location."

  • They're is a contraction for they are. They is a pronoun and are is a linking verb. 

  • Their is a possessive pronoun (also an adjective). 
They're still over there picking their noses. 

In case you get confused like I do, A homonym is a word that sounds the same but has a different meaning. A homophone is a type of homonym. It sounds the same but has a different spelling. There, they're and their are both homonyms and homophones.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

U is for Janet Gurtler, How I Lost You, and Ugly

And yes, I realize today is T, but I had my dates mixed up and gave Janet the wrong letter. Tomorrow will be T.

Happy Book Birthday HOW I LOST YOU!!!

I met Janet last fall through one of my CP's, and she's been such a nice writing friend, answering questions, letting me pick her brain, and even guest blogging for me:) I've now read all her books  and can't wait to read this one.  

Take it away, Janet. 

When we’re writing our novels or poems or English papers or even our Christmas letter one of things I’ve learned is to remember is that first drafts are meant to be U-gly.  See, even when I first wrote that sentence I had to read it over a few times and realize I’d left out a key word.  So I fixed it. The ugly.  Also, confession time, I usually spell Grammar with an e instead of an a. Ugly.
Sometimes we need to get down the thoughts in our heads, and sometimes we need to do it in a big hurry. Or at least I do.  So when I belch out a bunch of words, or dialogue between two characters I need to get it down. Fast. And it’s good to remember you can come back to it later and fix it.
Ugly first drafts are standard.  The bones are there but often the bones are broken or out of place and need to be fixed.
I hate to admit it, but I am not the ultimate Grammar Queen.  I sometimes mix up things like peak and peek.  I’ve been known to spell things wrong and use words out of context. Let’s face it; the English language is a tricky one.
But at least I have learned that I have to go back to my ugly first drafts and polish them up. Look for the things I need to fix, the grammatical errors that you can skip or miss.  Even better in the publishing world, there are copyeditors whose JOB it is to find those errors. And they often pick up things I’ve missed.
Thank Goodness for Copyeditors who find the Ugly even in later drafts! 

Isn't Janet great? First drafts are meant to be messy and ugly. It's in the revisions where our stories become polished.
Where to find Janet:

Indie Amazon B&N

Young adult author, Janet Gurtler, writes realistic young adult fiction for Sourcebooks Fire. Booklist has compared Janet's work to Sarah Dessen and Jodi Picoult. Janet likes that a lot. Her latest book, HOW I LOST YOU is out April 23, 2013.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Wordworking: S is for Semicolon

The Semicolon is used to join two separate, closely related sentences (independent clauses). Semicolons are not used with conjunctions (but, and, so, etc.).

  • My favorite writing conference is WIFYR. I wish I could go this June.
  • My favorite writing conference is WIFYR; I wish I could go this June.

I'd never thought much about the semicolon, one way or the other until readingTrent Reedy's bio before attending Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers last June. It stated that Trent was for the eradication of all semicolons.
Really, someone against a punctuation mark? I was surprised; I asked a writing friend if it was a joke. Apparently, it is not. Many people petition for the eradication of semicolons and there is also a Semicolon Appreciate Society.

That opened a whole can of worms, or should I say colons. What say you? I rarely use them, but I don't see a point in eradicating. I'm curious, does this little punctuation mark have you in a dither? Are you Team Semicolon? Or Team Not Semicolon? (Or should that be Team Two Periods?)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Wordworking: R is for Rise vs. Raise

Rise vs. raise confuses me from time to time. I use Good Work, Amelia Bedelia to remember. One of her jobs is to bake bread. The directions tell her to let it rise, so she sets the dough in the pan, but when it doesn't rise, she ties a string to the pan and raises it into the air.

Try the worksheet below and see if you can keep them straight.

Happy Weekend, A to Zers. We are SO close. Eight more posts to go. (Still, it seems daunting when I haven't written them yet:D )

Friday, April 19, 2013

Wordworking: Q is for Dialogue

Today's title is in honor of
It's a favorite read at the Hall House.
Q is for Duck as Q is for Dialogue.
Ducks quack and for us to have dialogue, we need (double) quotation marks.

As my five-year-old understands, if there are quotations, then somebody is talking. She also knows that if the word before the quotation mark is said, it is followed by a comma.

Julia said, "Quack."

But what if the word isn't said? Then what happens?

I have a trusty notebook given to my be the incredible Ilima K Todd. It's battered and worn and my kiddos have pulled out a few pages. It's a little like Kristin Cashore's fireproof safes full of her notebooks.

One page of my notebook is devoted to dialogue.
It looks like this:

And yes, although it is hard to tell in my writing, the comma and period (full stop) are inside the quotation marks:) 

I wrote it last summer. While I know these by heart now, I still turn to this page from time to time and smile.
Do you have notes like this that keep dialogue (or something else) straight in your mind so you don't have to google it every time?

Said is the tag of choice. No need to scream, cry, berate, yell, explain, etc.

If you smile, laugh, grimace, make a face, stick out your tongue, etc. you cannot do them as you speak, so instead of a comma, use a period.

Wrong: I smiled, "You are the sexiest man this side of that cactus."
Right:   I smiled. "You are the sexiest man this side of that cactus."

Tim Wynn-Jones is the master of dialogue. I was lucky enough to be in his class during WIFYR last summer.

  • Dialogue REVEALS character. If it's not doing that, it isn't doing it's job. 
  • Dialogue is not the time to tell backstory. (two best friends discussing something they both know)
  • In dialogue, no hitting the pause button, it's like pausing a movie to explain a scene to someone who hasn't seen the movie. 
  • Beats should not be an arbitrary observation: it is part of the conversation. (think of the beat as a third character in your dialogue)
  • Dialogue can't be too witty--the joke can't be from the author, but from the character. 
  • Even funny dialogue must further the story
  • Reflection must happen in real time. Ex: While Tim gets his coat Rebecca can think about their argument. If only three seconds pass in "real time" only three words can pass on the page.
Check out Tim's Eleven Things You Need to Know (5 thru 9 are all about dialogue)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Wordworking: P is for E. M. Caines

Plurals, Possessives, and Plural Possessives

E.M. Caines is my newest agency sister and as I type this post I'm beta-ing her fairytale retelling. When I posted a hyphen question on twitter last month, she swooped in and set me straight--and with so much know how I knew I had to have her for A to Z. 

Take it away E. M. Caines.

I originally had this brilliant notion that I would write about possessives, and then I said, “Yes! Plural possessives!” (Double the P, double the fun.)
But as I contemplated how to organize my thoughts, I began noticing issues within business communications that seriously rankled me. Plurals were incorrectly written. Apostrophes were misused, giving possession to things that were not meant to have possession. And don’t get me started on what happened when plurals needed to take possession of something.
And that’s when I decided that writing about plural possessives may require some analysis of its parts, too.
So let’s start with plurals.
According to, plural is defined thus: consisting of, containing, or pertaining to more than one.
Easy enough. If there is more than one, it is now plural.
But what happens when you need to write the plural of an abbreviation? What then, smarty pants?
According to the APA Publication Manual: To form the plural of most abbreviations and statistical symbols, add s alone, but not italicized, without an apostrophe.
Basically, just add an s. Don’t use an apostrophe. Don’t try to make it cute. Just add an s.
1 IQ; 2 IQs
1 PhD; 2 PhDs
The exceptions to this rule are for units of measure (you will never write “ins,” for example, for “inches”).
Now here’s a tricky one for you: What do you do when you’re talking about a family whose last name ends with an s?
Think carefully, but you’d better get this right because my surname ends with an s.

If you said you would just add an es after the name, you are correct! And if you hung out with my family for an afternoon, you could say you spent time with the Caineses.
Yes, I know it looks weird. But it’s correct. I promise.
Right, then. So possessives are next.
Singular possessives are fairly easy, or they should be. In most cases, you just add an apostrophe and s to the end of the word or name. The exception, of course, is the pronoun it. It does not get an apostrophe when it takes possession. I’m not entirely sure why; I think it’s so that he and she don’t get jealous, because their possessive forms don’t include apostrophes, either. (I made you think about that, didn’t I?) But we’ve all heard the rule about how to check if you should use its or it’s, and this isn’t the place to bore you with it (again).
No, far more interesting is the question of how to handle the possessive form when someone’s name ends with an s. Do you know what to do?

Right! Add an apostrophe and s to the end of the name. So that jacket that belongs to Francis? It’s Francis’s jacket. And the book that Thomas owns? It’s Thomas’s book.
Again, it looks funny, but it’s correct. (I swear! Strunk & White even say so!)
Now, if you can master plurals (just add an s or an es at the end of the word) and you can master possessives (add an apostrophe and s to the end of the word), plural possessives are easy peasy. Just brace yourselves, because the rule is a doozy.

Add an apostrophe to the end of the word.
I know! It’s crazy! After all the ridiculous rules leading up to the main event, it’s kind of anticlimactic, don’t you think?
So that bathroom belonging to many girls? It’s the girls’ bathroom. And the wailing you hear from many babies? It’s the babies’ cries. And if you happen to go to a house owned by the Collins family, you’d be going to the Collinses’ house.

See how easy that was? Now you’re ready to hobnob at the Caineses’ next grammar party! But if you go to a party hosted by Michael Caine and his brood, it would be the Caines’ party. And that’s a totally different crowd.

Isn't E. M. Caines a blast? Check out her blog and twitter feed.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wordworking: O is for Of

This is my burnout day. It's a good thing we have a guest blogger tomorrow, because A to Z is wearing my down.

Get your feet off of the couch.
I jumped off of the trampoline.
Jim fell off of the toilet again.

O is also for Omitting Of. Shocking, but true: the of after off is unnecessary.

Read the sentences again without of:

Get your feet off the couch.
I jumped off the trampoline.
Jim fell off the toilet again.

That's it for today guys. But tomorrow my agent sister E.M. Caines is here with a hilarious bit on pronouns, possessives, and possessive pronouns. Say that five times fast.

If I got anything wrong, feel free to correct me in the comments. If you're doing the A to Z challenge let me know and I'll come check it out.

Write On:D

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Wordworking: N is for Numbers

If you're anything like me, you get confused about which numbers to write out. Is it over 10 or under 10? And when writing seventeen year old, I can't remember if the hyphens belong or not, but I know the hyphens do belong in a query letter. (Seventeen-year-old Rae ...)

Here's the breakdown:

Write out numbers less than 10: nine, eight, . . . two, one.

Don't start a sentence with a numeral: 12 hairless moles should be twelve hairless moles

Spell out (and lowercase) centuries and decades: In the eighties I watched more Dirty Dancing than the average single-digit kid.

Write out ordinal numbers: first, not 1st

If two numbers are next to each other it can be weird. 12 10-year-old girls, for instance, should be written twelve 10-year-
old girls.

On hyphenation of ages I went for the big guys:

"Hyphenate ages when they are adjective phrases involving a unit of measurement: “Her ten-year-old car is beginning to give her trouble.” A girl can be a “ten-year-old” (“child” is implied). But there are no hyphens in such an adjectival phrase as “Her car is ten years old.”" Chicago Manual of Style

"When the age is an adjective that comes before the noun and modifies the noun, or when the age is a noun, hyphenate." Grammar Girl

If I got anything wrong, please correct me in the comments. Please let me know if you're doing A to Z and I'll come and say hello.

Write On:D

Monday, April 15, 2013

Wordworking:M is for Me vs. I

Me is an object pronoun while I is the subject pronoun. I read a great tip on Literary Rambles last week for how to remember I vs. me using math. Read Dale's tip here.
The Cliff's Note version:

  • Subtraction: I or me can be confusing if the subject or object is more than one thing.  Subtract the additional person to find the answer.

"Joe and me ate pretzels until my belt buckle burst." "Joe and I ate pretzels until my belt buckle burst."
Take out Joe and it's easy to recognize that I is the correct choice because I is the subject of the sentence.

  • Addition: Add in the assumed portion of the sentence to find the correct pronoun. 
"He and I." vs. "He and me."
Add what they're doing. "He and I are going to a party." "He and me are going to a party."
 The first one is correct.

If I got anything wrong, feel free to correct me in the comments.  Are you doing the A to Z challenge? Let me know and I'll come check it out.

Write On:D

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Wordworking: L is for Lay, or is it Lie?

I look this one up every time I write the word. In fact, I try to avoid saying lie or lay at all-it's just too dang confusing. Anyone else out there in that same boat?

I've enlisted Grammar Girl and Grammar Cat to help us keep it straight and not have to think about creative ways to say that Edward laid a blanket on Bella and then lay down next to her, but even with the blanket she was too cold, so he had to let Jacob lay down instead.

Main thing to remember-Lay (laid laid) is a transitive verb, so it needs an object. Lie (lay lain) is an intransitive verb, so it does not need an object. Am I the only one that gets confused that the past of lie is lay? Yikes! Does anyone have a tip to help me remember the difference without needing my cheat sheet?

"Now I lay me down to sleep..." is that right? Can I lay myself down?

*Edited to add Tracey Bermeo's tip from the comments: Chickens lay eggs. People lie down.

If I got anything wrong, feel free to correct me in the comments.  Are you doing the A to Z challenge? Let me know and I'll come check it out.

Write On:D

Friday, April 12, 2013

Wordworking: K is for Keeping it Real with Janeal Falor

Our second guest post of the A to Z challenge is here. *launches confetti canons* I met Janeal Falor on twitter last August and she's one of the nicest gals on the planet. Plus, she can look at a half empty refrigerator and make a deluxe meal while she's writing. I can't wait to read her book YOU ARE MINE coming out May 6th.

Take it away, Janeal.

candle-rommance Thank you for having me here today, Robin!

 Today we're talking about Keepin' it Real. Even though I'm an author, the biggest reality is that I'm a terrible speller. When I was in elementary school spelling was my least favorite subject. I hated it with a passion. I could never get the right letters in the right places. And practicingplease smash my fingers in the door instead of making me relive those memories. Then there were kids in my class who'd get 100% without even trying. Disgustingly good spellers. Over the years, I've come to not only accept my poor spelling, but try and find the good in it. One of my favorite misspelled words that I'm forever typing is: Rommance. (and yes, I know that's probably bad grammar from Robin's awesome Colon Post, but I'm going for dramatic effect here). Any guesses why it's my favorite? I'll give you a hint, it has to do with how I feel about the word. Figured it out? Rommance is just so mmmmm, yummy! Which is why I always write rommances into my books. Sometimes I read a book without a love interest, but the only books I have a true passion for are rommances. This misspelling is one I think should become the correct spelling. Since it never will be, thankfully it's easily caught by spell checker. But I'm forever turning cheek into check and except into expect. Lame word issues that can't be caught by the computer. Two things really help me to catch these.
  • Search specifically for tricky spellings and nothing else. Looking for nothing but tricky words makes them a little easier to find. Notice I didn't say easy, but easier. And the more you do this, the better you'll get at it.
  • Help from others. Because I can't always see what my crazy fingers are typing in my own writing, I rely on others to help me find those sneaky hiders. Once I know what they are, I keep and extra close eye out for that problem and am able to find and correct them more often that not.
And while we're keepin' it real, yes, there was a bunch of grammar/spelling errors I hunted down in this. Probably still a few hiding in there. ;-) Do you have problems spelling any particular words or are you naturally a great speller? What do you think about mmmmm, yummy romances? How do you 'Keep things Real' with spelling?

Janeal FalorJaneal Falor lives in Utah where she’s finally managed to live in the same house for more than five years. In her spare time she reads books like they’re nuts covered in caramel and chocolate, cooks whatever strikes her fancy, and enjoys the outdoors. Her husband and three children try to keep up with her overactive imagination. Usually they settle for having dinner on the table, even if she’s still going on about the voices in her head. Her debut YA Fantasy, YOU ARE MINE comes out May 6, 2013.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Wordworking: J is for Just

Just is the adverb on the loose.
When I lived in Provo I went to a Storytellers' Conference at the beautiful Provo Library. (Man, how I miss that place. But I get to see it next month when I go to LDStorymakers-Woo-hoo. Do you think my library card still works after 4 years?)

Nancy E. Turner was the keynote speaker and she was so cute and fun.
 She just had so many stories and just her smile made just about everyone in the entire room just light up. She just had to tell us how her editor just had to make her cut out every single just in THESE IS MY WORDS and how it cut the WC in half. (If you haven't read THESE IS MY WORDS, I highly recommend it. I'm a rereader, so I recommend it even to anyone who's already read it:)

Just is one of those pesky adverbs we writers just can't help trying and failing to avoid. (Me especially. Apologies to all writers who even in the first draft are trained to just avoid just). Until I get that cool, I will continue to use the find function in Word and delete just about every single one.

So, how about you? Do you just find yourself dropping just all the time like it's the new like, or the awesome from the early '90's when I was in Middle School?

Forgive me if you're appalled, but this Nike parody reminded me of my travels in Egypt and I  got the giggles.  So, I just had to share it with you.

Can you imagine my post without the word just? Go ahead and give it a try. Read it without just and see for yourself how unnecessary it is.

Tomorrow we have our second guess post from Janeal Falor. She's a writing, homeschooling mama like myself. I'm so excited. You're just going to love her.

Until tomorrow A to Zers. We're over a third of the way done, guys. We can do this:D

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wordworking: I is for Infinitives

Infinitives: to split or not to split.
First: what is an infinitive?
 To run
To walk
To stalk
To talk
To hum
To drum
To eat
To meet
To seat

According to Grammar Girl, the goddess for this month's A to Z challenge, it is technically okay to split an infinitive by putting and adverb in between the to and the verb, but we should still avoid it as long as it doesn't change the meaning of the sentence.

To jauntily shake it is now approved. (As is to merrily dance, to snottily snort, and to speedily drive) But I'll continue to play it safe and to shake jauntily (to dance merrily, to snort snottily, and to drive speedily). What's your opinion on the split infinitive? To read Grammar Girl's detailed explanation, click here.

If I got anything wrong, feel free to correct me in the comments. If you're doing the A to Z challenge let me know and I'll come check it out.

Write On:D

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Wordworking: H is for Hyphens, Hogwarts, and Liesl Shurtliff

Happy Book Birthday, RUMP!!!

I met Liesl at my first writing conference (WIFYR) back in 201l. I've blogged about her here. RUMP is a MG retelling that is funny, sweet, and perfect for my third grader (and for me).

She was nice enough to guest blog about hyphens and share the amazing Hogwarts gingerbread house she made last Christmas.

Take it away, Liesl.

H is for Hyphen, a lovely punctuation mark that can be used to bring words together, or to break words apart, as the case may be. It can be glue or a knife. What a magical tool! 
Use a hyphen to join two words serving as a single adjective before a noun: J.K. Rowling is a well-known author.
However, if it comes after the noun, you don’t use the hyphen: Liesl Shurtliff is an author who is not well known. (Yet.)
A hyphen is used in compound numbers: My publisher gave me twenty-five copies of my book.
Use a hyphen to clarify confusion: Re-sign the publishing contract. Don’t resign your day job.  
Use hyphens with prefixes: The ex-editor booked an all-inclusive vacation.  

Liesl's amazing Hogwarts gingerbread creation
Thanks for including me in your A to Z challenge and featuring me on my release day! I really appreciate it. 

Isn't she great guys? Thanks Liesl for taking the time to be on my blog. I can't wait until my copy arrives this afternoon! 

Where you can find Rump: indie, amazon, and B & N

Are you doing the A to Z challenge? Let me know and I'll come check it out. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Wordworking: G is for Gerunds

The first time I heard the word gerunds was when I read my feedback from the amazing Pk Hrezo. She told me that I really liked using gerunds.

Gerunds, I thought, what the heck is a gerund? So I googled it.

A gerund is a noun made from a verb + ing.

I found this amazing chart to explain the whole thing:
used with permission of
Now that I'm conscious of them, I try to use them less, especially at the beginning of a sentence. If I got anything wrong, feel free to correct me in the comments. Tomorrow is my first guest blogger: Liesl Shurtliff, and on her book birthday. *squeals* I'm so dang excited.
Are you doing the A to Z challenge? Let me know and I'll come check it out.

Write On:D

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Wordworking: F is for Full Stop

I'd tried plenty of grammar books, but it wasn't until the amazing Lynne Truss--and her Apostrophe Protection Society--that my desire to improve my grammar came full force. 

Lynn is funny, she's smart, and she's the one that introduced me to the full stop. It sounds so much nicer than a period: something that instead reminds me of my menstrual cycle. (sorry male visitors, if that made you uncomfortable).

In honor of Eats, Shoots & Leaves, today I'm sharing  a sign I drive by almost every single day. As if the color scheme wasn't offensive enough, I also have to endure the poor grammar.

That sign makes me wish I had Lynne's spunk and could grab my own sharpie to fix this apostrophe catastrophe. 
(In case you're wondering what is wrong with this picture, besides not capitalizing the word cuts, the business thought that to make cuts plural, it needed an apostrophe. We know apostrophes show possession or the omission of one or two letter  and are not needed in this sign)
Do you have notice grammatically incorrect signs in your town? Are you ever tempted to get out a giant sharpie yourself? What are your favorite differences between American and English grammar? Does the our  instead of or confuse you sometimes? Or do you ever forget if it's gray or grey?

Write On:D 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Wordworking: E is for ... (no really)

Which way do you write an ellipsis? I found various opinions on the matter. Grammar Girl says to put a space in between each ellipsis point and always a a space on each side no matter the punctuation. So, if a sentence ends with a period and then the ellipsis it gets, 4 dots total. . . .
Ellipsis point .
Ellipsis . . .
Ellipses . . .  . . .  . . .

For examples I'm using POISON by Bridget Zinn (my favorite 2013 published read).
On the first page I opened to (90-91) I found 3 uses of ellipses.

1. Ellipses can also show hesitation
In dialogue:
"The witch squinted at Kyra's midsection. 'Well . . . what a nice surprise: a spark.'" (I love this one because it also uses a colon *happy dance*)
Not in dialogue:
"It smelled like . . . herbs, fresh-picked, but with an undertone of something else, something powerful and scary."

2. Ellipses can show trailing off in dialogue (leaving something unsaid).
"'And finally . . .' Out came a flat glass disk." (no space between last ellipsis point and quotation marks)

3. Ellipsis show omission, such as to shorten a quotation. 
"Kyra followed, considering her options. She had no idea how to unfreeze her upper body. . . . Possibly the witch would either have to lose interest or die before the spell would evaporate."
"She spied Fred . . . sitting at a rough-hewn table . . ."

Do you use ellipses in writing? Did Grammar Girl get it right? Have you read POISON?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Wordworking: D is for the movie Oscar, Dr. Poole, and dangling participles

To introduce today's topic is Tim Curry as Dr. Poole from Oscar: my favorite Sylvester Stallone movie of all time.

I spent an embarrassing amount of time attempting to find the video for this post, but could only find it on one site and it wouldn't let me import it. Click here for Dr. Poole and Connie. It's worth it. Then come back:D

  • Connie: Congratulations, Doc. Will there be a honeymoon following?
  • Dr. Poole: Watch it there, Connie. You've got a dangling participle.

Connie thinks his zipper is down, but the problem is the ing word at the end of his sentence.

So what is a participle, you ask? (now that we've established it's not anything on or inside Connie's pants)

When you add ing to a verb and use that word as an adjective (describes a noun), it's called a participle.

A dangling participle describes something that isn't in the sentence. In Connie's case he's missing the word wedding.

Have you seen Oscar? Do you love Mr. Poole and Sylvester Stallone as a gangster as much as I do? Do you find yourself dangling participles?

If I got anything wrong, feel free to correct me in the comments. Can you guess what part of grammar I'll focus on tomorrow? Are you doing the A to Z challenge? Let me know and I'll come check it out.

Write On:D

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wordworking: C is for Colons


No, not those kinds of colons. These ones 

On the outset they look a whole lot more boring, but these colons are like foreplay: anticipation for what's next. They tell us something (exciting) is coming: something that relates to the previous sentence. 

Colons come only after a complete sentence. 

The wall of the colon allows: distention and elongation. (WRONG, no colon necessary)

The wall of the colon forms a series of pouches: they permit distention and elongation. (RIGHT)

Even in a list, make sure the clause before it is a complete sentence: so the colon couldn't come after a verb or after a preposition.

The order of the colon is: the ascending colon, the transverse colon, the descending colon, and the sigmoid colon. (WRONG, no colon necessary)

There are four regions of the colon: the ascending colon, the transverse colon, the descending colon, and the sigmoid colon. (RIGHT)

Quick and Dirty Tip from Grammar Girl:

"If you can replace a colon with the word namely, then the colon is the right choice."

For the comma portion of today:

For more on commas, see my CP Kathryn Purdie's post: Commas and Clauses.

If I got anything wrong, feel free to correct me in the comments. Can you guess what part of grammar I'll focus on tomorrow? Are you doing the A to Z challenge? Let me know and I'll come check it out.

Write On:D