Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Serial Commas

There are several arguments for consistent use of the serial comma:

1) The use of a serial comma better matches the spoken cadence of sentences.
2) Using the serial comma can resolve ambiguity within a list of ideas.
3) Its use is consistent with other style means of separating items in a list.

On the flip side there is one strong argument against consistent use of the serial comma:
It is redundant in a simple list, because the and or the or is often meant to serve (by itself) to mark the logical separation between the final two items, unless, of course, the final two items are not truly separate items but are two parts of a compound single item.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Life has filled up the time that I should be writing. My long break from the pages of my novel and father's memoir is hopefully ending, and I will get back to playing with words.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Write about an ironic use of bad manners.

Her pointer finger pressed against her lips thankfully muffled her abrasive shhh to a classroom of twenty adults.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Well these are not an assignments but something to ponder and get your pen moving or the delete button active.

“The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.”

– George Orwell (1903-1950)

“You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.”

– F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What is in front of you? Or out your back window?

There is a speckled starling that believes he is a brown sparrow. He travels with a flock of sparrows and eats at the feeder with his surrogate family, even though his beak and feet are three times the size of his companions.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"If we personify the novel, make it into a being named Marissa Novella, for example, I believe that we can see the complex interworkings of story and plot."

Name your novel, not give it a title, but make the project a living thing so that you know you have to breathe life into it everyday.

My pile of papers and doc files are now referred to as Millie Yarn.

Walter Mosley, This Year You Write Your Novel

Monday, March 14, 2011

how the city-girl changed into a country-girl...

Some man stepped on my foot and some woman smacked the back of my head while I was quietly sitting on the L train, if this abuse happened in the country on my farm I could hit them back with my spade shovel.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The exclamation points: How do you use this punctuation correctly?
I have found four online sources about the usage of exclamation points, plus check the Chicago Manual of Style 16th Edition for more information. Review and edit your manuscript accordingly.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Write something that includes one-way dialogue with the main character. Make the reader visualize what he or she is doing instead of talking.

Alan pulled up outside the plastic hospital. I heard the gurgling diesel engine, but still did not move. Without speaking, Alan grabbed my elbow and pulled me to my feet. The receiver resting in my lap hit the floor, but Alan just disregarded it.
Once outside Alan said, “What is going on, there are messages for you all over this country? Let’s get you out of here. No bitching about how much you hate the open truck on these dusty roads, there is no time to close it up. Get in.” I only mustered up the energy to slowly move, I could not speak or raise my eyes from the dirt my shuffle was kicking up.

Alan swung the passenger door open scooting me along as I silently and mechanically entered the truck. Alan slammed my door shut, ran to the other side, rolling the truck in gear before he closed his door.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I have been away from the pages for so long; it is tempting to start another novel instead of finishing this one. The story has lost its appeal after so many years of rewriting; how do I know the story is solid for the reader?

How is your plot laid out? My main character goes through a series of loses but does she really transform?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Diving back into 200 pages of material, I am taking baby steps.
Short introductory phrases no longer need a comma according to the Chicago Manual of Style 16th Edition.

In 2002, I was living in Denver. The comma can be omitted. Check your manuscript for such phrases.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Falling off the writing wagon.

I did not have writer's block; I had a time management problem. Like the hiding winter sun, my writing life was tucked under the clouds for the past month. I could say that a break is good, but I would be only justifying my absence, staying focused with daily writing keeps you in tune with your characters and subject matter. I will renew my commitment to daily novel writing and hope that my followers will forgive my absence.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

how the city-girl changed into a country-girl...

This morning I stood so close to someone on the train, I can tell you that he did not brush his teeth, and he had Italian food for dinner the previous night. On the rest of my commute above ground, I visualized what these city blocks looked like as a swamp.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What is right in front of you?

There is a cross-eyed man reading his blackberry six-inches from his face.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What crossed your path today that bothered you?

There was a homeless woman sitting on Michigan Ave wrapped in layers of clothing, well prepared for the elements with a sign that said, "Wallet taken on the Amtrak..." The sign was inkjet printed and mounted to cardboard, this most have cost money and planning. I am not sure I believe her story.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Where is your character going? Why? How will he or she get there? With whom? And who will he or she have become when the journey is over?


"8 Ways to Write a 5-Star Chapter One"
By Elizabeth Sims
January 2011 Writer’s Digest

Sunday, January 23, 2011

"#8 Be Bold"
I bodly tell you details you thought were not important.


"8 Ways to Write a 5-Star Chapter One"
By Elizabeth Sims
January 2011 Writer’s Digest

Friday, January 21, 2011

"#7 Give It a Mini Plot"

Make something happen. Can too much happen in one week? My main character is linked to a car accident, murder, bus accident and a war.

"8 Ways to Write a 5-Star Chapter One"
By Elizabeth Sims
January 2011 Writer’s Digest

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"#6 Use Carefully Chosen Detail to Create Intimacy."

I firmly believe visual simplicity portrays intimacy, such as in the movie "Lost in Translation." How do you write clear details to create what a photographer can do with good light?

"8 Ways to Write a 5-Star Chapter One"
By Elizabeth Sims

January 2011 Writer’s Digest

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

“#5 Be Sparing of Setting”

“Another way to introduce a setting is to show how a character feels about it. In Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov seethes with resentment at the opulence around him in St. Petersburg, and this immediately puts us on alert about him. The setting serves the character; it does not stand on its own.”

I love the red color in the soil; it reminds me of my favorite crayon color. I used burnt sienna in almost all of my childhood drawings. I begged for new boxes of standard Crayola crayon colors, my mother pointed out that the crayon’s looks brand new. I pleaded; I needed a new burnt sienna.

"8 Ways to Write a 5-Star Chapter One"
By Elizabeth Sims
January 2011 Writer’s Digest

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

“#4 Present a Strong Character Right Away.”

What does strong mean to you? I slightly disagree, a little mystery and the reader desires to learn more dragging the reader into the next chapter. I relate this to first impressions, make a good one and someone will listen. No need to tell a stranger all your secrets but a firm handshake says a lot.

"8 Ways to Write a 5-Star Chapter One"
By Elizabeth Sims
January 2011 Writer’s Digest

Monday, January 17, 2011

“#3 Choose a Natural Starting Point."

The present seemed like a natural place to start then the character remembers each detail of the previous week in past tense.

"8 Ways to Write a 5-Star Chapter One"
By Elizabeth Sims
January 2011 Writer’s Digest

Sunday, January 16, 2011

“#2 Decide on Tense”
First person past tense is what I prefer. How do the characters form in your mind? I reworked my novel in third person when I was feeling too close to the subject matter, but now with a clear separation form the material, “I” flows much smoother with the storyline. It is to read as a glimpse of a week, only the self-centered would remember each detail of one week of their life.

"8 Ways to Write a 5-Star Chapter One"
By Elizabeth Sims
January 2011 Writer’s Digest

Saturday, January 15, 2011

"#1 Resist Terror"

I have put down countless books because they bore me. I am not sure I am in terror over my chapter one but I have rewritten that chapter the most; I fear the rest of the novel will let the reader down. I’ve hooked the reader in with a heart-wrenching death, but will the main character transform?

"8 Ways to Write A 5-Star Chapter One"
By Elizabeth Sims
January 2011 Writer’s Digest

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sit in a public place and write about the people around you. Don’t censor yourself, just write what you see.

While I had that nasty flu, I watched too many episodes of Criminal Minds. Now, I am convinced the short Asian man with a juvenile goatee that is punching his thigh with a closed fist is going to go postal and kill the half of dozen strangers in the room. His inability to sit still without pacing every five minutes is beginning to make me restless. He overshadows the man with the shoulder-raising twitch and repetitive cough that persists with each bite of his stir-fry.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!
I hope the new year brings with it a habit of writing everyday.