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Posts Tagged ‘grammar’

Writing is about stringing words together to tell a story.

Good writing is about doing that in a way that speaks to the heart of the reader, drawing them in, and not letting go.

If you need the truth of it, it’s the massive hours spent editing that make your story come alive.

This is where you have to put on all your hats.

You edit the general story, scenes, and flow of the story itself. Pick apart the details, add and remove them, and research little things that seem unimportant but are important to the reader who knows more about it than you.

You edit for grammar and sentence structure, wondering if you could pass a fifth grade English Language Arts test.

You become a copy editor, seeking every wayward character, backwards quotation mark, and researching the proper usage of the “. . .” Character.

Most importantly is the careful picking apart and nitpicking of the little details in your choice of words.

There is something to be said for the words you use. Careful choice of words changes the meaning and tone.

Here (excerpt from Where the Bodies Are below), I changed “with” to “to”. Because, when people are gathered, eager for news, they are not really talking with someone. With implies a shared moment, not the shallow moment they are in. They would be talking to each other. Talking at each other. Any response is irrelevant unless it feeds the yearning for more juicy gossip.

“The normally empty foyer is filled with people, most of them talking animatedly or looking around eagerly for someone to talk animatedly to.”

Where the Bodies Are and the subsequent books in the series are currently in transition, being revised and edited to return better and bolder.

As a writer, you never stop seeking to improve your craft. And, what you wrote years ago is not going to meet the quality of your writing today. Given the chance, I am taking the McAllister series and putting that improved skill to work, improving on the flow and feel of these stories.

Watch for the rerelease of Where the Bodies Are.

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9a87e-grammatically_correct_catIs being grammatically correct really correct?

From the beginning years of grade school, you were admonished to “watch your grammar.”  Through the years growing up, your grammar was corrected, your papers were graded on the use of proper grammar, and you were advised to fix your grammar.

Now you have made that final step and there is no turning back.  You have decided, “I am a writer.”  Great!  Now you can finally use all those perfect grammar skills that have been demanded from you all those years.  Are you ready?  No?  Good.

Is it correct to be grammatically correct?  The short answer is ‘sometimes’.  Should you write that way?  Sometimes.  In fact, there are no doubt some wonderful tombs parked somewhere on dusty shelves written entirely in perfect grammar, although I haven’t actually seen any personally.  Should you write your story in correct grammar?  Probably some, but not all of it.

As a writer, correct grammar is just as important as it was in grade school.  But, it is also important to know when ignore those grammar rules.

right and wrong grammarConsider the rough character.  He has lived on the streets, surviving the best he can.  He has a full history of problems and hardships that have driven him to this point.  Now imagine that character talking and thinking in perfect grammar.

Good writing draws the reader in.  It flows in their mind so that they are absorbed into the world you created, feeling and living it without consciously reading it.

Now here is a writing exercise you can practice anywhere.  Pay attention.  Pay attention and take mental note of the conversations around you and the words going through your own mind; not so much on what is being said, but on how it is being said.

Most people do not think or speak in proper grammar.  They use contractions a lot and at some point break various other perfect grammar rules.  People also often speak in incomplete sentences and using the forms slang speech common to their particular lifestyle, background, and community.  Speech and thoughts expressed in perfect grammar sounds formal.  It could be a good tool as well when you want that formal feeling in your story.  But it won’t likely draw the reader into the story in the long run.

You want your story to flow in the same way that most people’s thoughts flow naturally.  You want your characters and the situations you put them in to feel real.  Use formal proper grammar where needed, but also know that a more casual flow of thoughts and words are essential to make a story flow naturally.

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