Oct 26, 2010

Grammar 101-6: Quotations

I love quotation marks and I use air quotes enough that you might think it was a tick… that being said, here are the basic rules on quotation marks.

Quotation marks denote the exact words of a speaker. Quotations are necessary if you write something like this: “Go home,” Mark said.

They are unnecessary for indirect quotations. So, if you’re saying, Mark said to go home. There is no need to use quotes.

Quotation marks with in quotation marks should be single marks. Example: “Katie was talking to me and she said, ‘this blog is ridiculous,’ and I was totally offended”

Commas and Periods should always be placed inside of quotation marks.

No: Sally said, “I want to go home”.

Yes: “I want to go home,” sally said.

Question marks and exclamation points only reside inside if they are a part of the quote and on the outside if they pertain to the entire sentence, not just the quote.

Did you just mutter, “I wish I wasn’t reading this blog”?

“Do you want to stop reading?”

Well, if you said yes, that’s ok, because this is over. Enjoy the rest of the day.

Oct 25, 2010

Grammar 101-5: Commas

Commas… I have a serious love hate relationship with these marks. I love to use them. I hate to follow their rules. It is because of this that I thought I’d write this grammar post. Here are some of those rules I hate to follow:

• Commas set off abbreviations such as Jr. & Sr. (There is no comma when the last word in a sentence is Jr. or Sr.)
o Example: Rudolf Cline, Sr., passed away at the age of ninety-two.
• Commas separate parts of geographical places.
o Example: I grew up in Coos Bay, Oregon.
• Commas are used to create lists.
o Example: I forgot to pick up milk, eggs, and butter while I was out.
• Commas are used to separate three or more phrases.
o Example: After I write this blog, reply to emails, and feed my fish, I will continue on my WIP.
• Commas are used to separate three or more short clauses.
o Example: I am writing this post, you are reading my blog, and Katie is undoubtedly laughing at me.
• Commas separate introductory words and mild interjections from the sentence that follows them
o Example: Yes, you may have a cookie. Oh, you wanted three? No, you’ll get sick.
• Commas are used to separate the “noun” being addressed.
o Example: Amy, why are you prattling on like this?
• Commas are used to separate coordinating adjectives. (These can be determined by placing and between the words, if they sound odd with an “and” between them they’re most likely not coordinating.)
o Example: The little girl wore a black velvet, lace covered dress.
• Commas are used to set off parenthetical expressions. (Parenthetical expressions are words inserted in a sentence, though they are not necessary to the meaning. However, of course, after all, too, indeed, and perhaps are all examples of, sometimes, parenthetical expressions.
o Example: This is, in fact, the last of my bullet points.

Jul 27, 2010

What’s in a name? The Quest For The Perfect Title

When it comes to titles, I can assure you I’ve had a tough time.

Back in the beginning Duty & Death’s title was entirely different (I think this is the fourth title it’s had), but then again, back in the beginning, it was one book, not five.

Up until a few months ago, it was only four. When I split D&D in half I suddenly realized that I would have to find a new title for the second half… my initial thought was “Crap.” But that’s no good for a title.

I had a few thoughts for the (now) third book, but they definitely wouldn’t work - very specific to that novel – drat, no cannibalizing. The potential title came to me as I was working through revisions last week.

“Living With the Enemy”

Granted, this is just a working title and is subject to change, but what do you think?

My second novel was a bit easier to title. Typical, isn’t it? The works that I’m not as proud of/don’t intend to pursue publication on at the present are the ones with easy titles. Don’t get me wrong, the original title was “The Demon Soul,” but then I found out that it was already the title of a novelized adaptation of WoW. Don’t get me wrong. I used to play an MMO, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not the connotation that I am going for. So it changed to Forfeit Souls. I think it was a change for the better.

My third novel didn’t have a title for the longest time it wasn’t until a major revelation with the plot that I realized the perfect type of title for it and it became “For the Birds” however, this didn’t last and it’s now “Magic is for the Birds”. Once again, this is a novel with a wonderful name that I don’t want to pursue first. (love the genre, I just can’t see myself going anywhere with it.)

My current WIP has two titles. The one that is like my friend Greta’s name for her fish – Fish – and the one I made up before I’d locked down most of the plot – so it doesn’t make sence.

Most of the time I call it “Space Opera” and worry about what I’ll actually call it once it’s finished and I have the energy to think of something clever. Occasionally though, I still call it by its original title. “The Nine Lies of Calliope Druthers” this however brings to mind the novel, “The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch” and it’s really not a novel that I want associated with mine. They’re too different.

Jun 10, 2010

Grammar 101: The whole ie/ei conundrum

(It was time for another grammar post –though it is not as long as my other posts.)

I will admit that I am one of those individuals that the whole “i” before “e” sometimes still stumps. The old mnemonic phrase “‘i’ before ‘e’, except after ‘c’, or when sounded like ‘a’ in neighbor and weigh.” Hasn’t really helped me out when you consider the fact that there are exceptions to the rule, and the phrase “Neither financier seized either weird species of leisure,” is a little bit harder to remember.

Sometimes I despise the English language (though it is rare) and dealing with the words that don’t fit into this pattern generally incites my ire.

Jun 3, 2010

What’s in a name?

I’ve always found names difficult when writing, generally the main characters aren’t hard, but when it comes to the minor characters, it’s like pulling teeth, no matter how integral they are to the story.

I have a story that is, at this point, sitting in my computer as a synopsis. I thought I’d found the perfect name for my main character and, having completed the synopsis, I saved it and went about my business. That very night, I met up with my friend and workout partner, the redheaded dancer, before I left her apartment that night, she just had to show me this flash comic called Salad Fingers. As I’m watching it, I look up to the byline and see that the guy who created this series of flash videos is named “David Firth”… can you guess what my perfect name for that character was? David Firth. I cannot begin to tell you how utterly creeped out I was.

This is the reason I now Google and Wiki, all of my character names before I commit to them.

So what’s in a name? There are characters whose names really do define them in my head, there are characters in my novels who were named specifically for a character trait. I think I have to defer to Ms. Montgomery and her words, spoken through the young redheaded orphan:

I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I've never been able to believe it. I don't believe a rose would be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.
Those of us who are incredibly familiar with both thistle and skunk cabbage can tell you, a rose wouldn’t be as nice.

Apr 16, 2010

Grammar 101 - Part 3 Prepositions

We’ve all heard the rule, don’t end a sentence with a preposition. But rarely does anyone delineate what a preposition is. So what is a preposition?

A preposition is a word that links nouns, pronouns and phrases to other words in a sentence. They indicate location.

**** AN EXEPTION****

Sometimes, a word that looks like a preposition is actually a part of a verb and is called a particle. (Side note: I hate the word particle.)

Here’s an example: “Miguel turned up the radio.”

Up is a preposition, but in this case it is actually a particle. It is part(icle) of the verb “Turned up”. If you’re not sure if it’s a particle or a preposition, try this test: place the word that you are unsure of at the beginning of the sentence.

Up the radio Miguel turned. This sentence makes no sense, and thus you know that “Up” is a particle in the sentence.


Here are examples of prepositions (this is not a complete list, there are about 150 prepositions in the English language):

About • above •according to • across • after • against • along • along with • among • apart from • around • as • as for • at • because of • before • behind • below • beneath • beside • between • beyond • but • by • by means of • concerning • despite • down • during • except • except for • excepting • for • from • in • in addition to • in back of • in case of • in front of• in place of • inside • in spite of • instead of • into • like • near • next • of • off • on • onto • on top of • out • out of • outside • over • past • regarding • round • since • through • throughout • till • to • toward • under •underneath • unlike • until • up • upon •up to • with • within • without

If you’ll notice, “to” is listed in that big-ol-block of text. Yesterday in Who/Whom. I told you the correct way to ask the question was, “Whom does this jacket belong to?” but in reality, the “correct” way to ask this question is, “To whom does this jacket belong?” Because “to” is a preposition and therefore we should never end a sentence with it.

As with who and whom, sometimes using the correct grammar sounds stuffy, in the case of finding out who owns the jacket, it can get even stuffier when two rules are combined! Does that mean that we should ignore these rules? NO! If your grandmother was a stuffy old bag, you wouldn’t ignore her would you? I don’t care that prepositions don’t give you sweets, it is no reason to ignore them!

Often times, a sentence needs to be reworded completely in order to make sense AND follow grammatical law. For instance:

"That is nonsense up with which I shall not put." –W. Churchill.
That doesn’t work at all!

Apr 15, 2010

Grammar 101: Part 2 - Who & Whom

Who is this you might ask? Who, he is, indeed. Dr. Who to be precise. *le-sigh*

Who and Whom- Oh what a fun little subject. (This is going to be fairly long, so if you want to skip ahead to the part where I actually impart some wisdom on you, please, do skip ahead to the heavily asterisked heading.)

Don’t you just love pronouns like this? Interrogative Pronouns to be precise. Why can’t they just be nice pronouns like the subjective pronouns be they first person (he, she, it, etc.) or second (you) or even inclusive (we). No these little buggars had to be pesky and annoy school age children through to adult hood.

I must amend my statement, I don’t hate all interrogative pronouns. What and which are perfectly fine. I have no problem with you, you may go if you don’t want to hear the rest of this, save your poor little ears the trouble.

Who does Whom think it is! I mean when you use it correctly it sounds so stuffy! Who does it think it is! To Whom does it think it’s speaking? I often feel silly when I use it in a sentence, even when I know I’ve used it correctly.

The English language is a jungle full of pitfalls and scarry monstrous rules that threaten to swallow you up unless you have some understanding of them.

*** When to use Who and Whom ***

First things first. Who is used in reference to the subject of a clause. Whom is used when referring to the object of a clause. Have I lost you yet? (Or “Whom have I lost?”)

Ok as a refresher, the subject is the person performing the action and the object is the person having an action done to them. In the case of “whom have I lost”, “I” is the subject and “Whom” is identifying the object.

I enjoy this example: If I say, "I love you," you are the object of my affection.

I’m sure most of us are more concerned with “whom” than we are with “who”. I know I for one rarely find myself inserting “whom” when I’m unsure of which to use

Here’s how I determine the right use of these two words (and frankly I’ve found a lot of other sites suggest you do the same):

I found a useful tool in using the “he/him” method. By this method, you find the correct format for your question in its answer.

For instance.

If the question is: Who/Whom wrote this book?

We answer the question, “He wrote that book. Obviously we do not say “him wrote that book. Therefore, the correct question is “Who wrote this book?”

If the question is: Who/Whom does this Jacket belong to?

We answer the question, “It belongs to him.” Unless of course you’re really batty and then you answer with “That Jacket belongs to the great Ulysses S. Grant!” but you’re not batty and you want to do it right, so it is correct to use Whom. “Whom does this jacket belong to?”

*** End of the “Real Information”***

I hope that’s left you with a better understanding of how to use Who and Whom, hopefully Whom’s feelings weren’t hurt too badly by my scathing remarks… but there are always casualties in the battle of grammar. Hopefully you won’t be one of them!

As a disclaimer I would like to say that I am in no way a grammar goddess. I make lots of mistakes - as I'm sure some grammar nazi's reading this will note.

Apr 14, 2010

Grammar 101: Part 1 - An Introduction & Its/It’s

I’ve decided to do these because my biggest fan asked me about tomorrow’s topic in an email and I figured, what better way for me to bone up on my grammar (which I’ll admit isn’t often the greatest) by teaching others – it is the best way to learn something, at least that’s what dear ol’ dad says.

In these I'll always let you know when I stop rambling and the real info starts.

As this won’t be a full “lesson” (*giggles incessantly at the idea of someone learning from me in a classroom environment*) I figured I’d start out with something silly, but that tends to trip me up occasionally still.

*** Begin Relevant Information***

“It’s” the shortened version (aka the conjunction) of “it is” or it has. The “i” or “ha” is replaced with an apostrophe and it becomes one word. Not that hard right?

I’ve had issue with this before and I do occasionally find myself writing the wrong thing… its bad, I know. I’m willing to admit that it’s purely an issue of carelessness and not paying attention on my part. I’m still mortified that one will slip through and an agent will look at my manuscript and think… “This girl doesn’t even know how to use ‘its/it’s’ properly!”

I know the reason I place the wrong one in the wrong place is because in my head I’m still at the point where I’m putting the apostrophe in for the possessive. If the dog has a leash, it’s the dog’s leash.

It’s Andrea’s sister’s dog. It pooped on their brother’s bed. Andrea’s cat Mitsy got blamed for it, thrown out of the house and some nice old lady has adopted her and is now keeping her from Andrea! So now Mitsy is the old lady’s cat. (This instance was made up purely as an example.)

Possessive adjectives baby! You have to think of “its” like you think of “yours” or “theirs”. There is no need for the “_’s”

When you’re talking in possessive, “Its” is the way to go! No apostrophe. The apostrophe indicates the conjunction “It is” that is when you use “It’s”.

*** End of all matter relevant to the topic of “Its/It’s”.

Bonus: Complimentary/Complementary

When something is complimentary (with an “i”) it means it is either complimenting you – i.e. saying you look good (and you really do *winks*) or it means that it is free, or done as a courtesy (those little bottles of shampoo and conditioner in hotel bathrooms are generally* complimentary).

*I say generally because people are beginning to charge for everything these days.

When something is Complementary (with an “e”) it means something goes well with something else. If you’ve seen the commercials for… golly I can’t remember who… with Chevy Chase in them, you’ll remember the snooty concierge making a comment to this effect. “It complements the room, it isn’t free.”

I hope I haven’t confused you more than you were before. Tomorrow: Who/Whom!