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 Post subject: Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2005 3:10 pm 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light
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The bane of so many writers, this thread will examine proper grammar, punctuation and spelling. What is a passive verb? What’s a semicolon really good for anyway? Just what are adverbs and why are they so bad? Where can I find Spell Check?

A couple of sites to get you started:
University of Ottawa Punctuation
Purdue University Grammar & Punctuation
The Grammar Gorillas
Punctuation & Grammar

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2005 2:52 pm 
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3. Flaming O
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I find Word has some useful tools to help with grammar and spelling. I've written up some thoughts on what works for me.

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2005 12:47 pm 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light
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Well, I guess I'll try and get this thing rolling a bit. My biggest pet peeve is the ADVERB. I hate them. I think they're lazy. Mark Twain said they should all be tossed. What is an adverb? From Wikipedia:

Quote:
An adverb is a part of speech that usually serves to modify verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, clauses, and sentences. Adverbs answer such questions as how?, when?, where?, in what way?, or how often?


They also let you use weak verbs, IMHO. Why say, "she said softly" when you can say, "she murmured" or "she whispered" or "she breathed"? When going through your editing process, I encourage you to keep an eye out for those weak verbs and their accompanying adverbs. I have an entire notcard full of ways to say "said". You can yell, you can growl, you can simper, you can even bleat. These are strong descriptive nouns and don't need any help. They stand on their own. Adverbs are, if anything, a crutch. They prop up weak verbs.

Now, I've griped about adverbs and how much I hate them and now I'm going to really mess with your mind. :lol There are some good ones out there. :stink A good adverb will get your message across instead of devoting an entire paragraph of description to something. I'll steal an example from an article I read on adverbs. Why write a whole paragraph on how a guy is trying to check out a girl on an elevator when you can just say "he surreptitiously watched her"? See?

I struggle with adverbs. I suppose that's why I hate them so much, but sometimes, like in the example above, I really good one presents itself and I use it.

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2005 12:58 pm 
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3. Flaming O
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I have to atest to the healing power of strong verbs also. I've been shown this in plenty of examples in my own efforts and have found very often (though not always) a strong verb seems to work a lot better than a weak one with an adverb.

Sometimes I pick up books by authors I like and skim through to observe usage. I was looking through The Fourth Hand by John Irving and found very few said's but a great many variations.

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2005 12:45 pm 
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23. Volumey Text
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Why write a whole paragraph on how a guy is trying to check out a girl on an elevator when you can just say "he surreptitiously watched her"? See?


While a whole paragraph is probably going overboard, I'd say it's better to use a few sentences showing the fact that he's watching her surreptitiously rather than just telling the reader that he is. For one thing you'll get a better idea of why he's watching her. Has he had a crush on her for years and been to nervous to talk to her? Is he stalking her? Is he a detective watching a suspect? If you spend a few sentences describing the way he's watching her then you'll convey this better than if you just say he surreptitiously watched her.

Quote:
I was looking through The Fourth Hand by John Irving and found very few said's but a great many variations.


However there's the danger that you'll go the other way and in trying to avoid said you'll start using increasingly lurid words.

The speech attribution should be as innocuous as possible, which is a job that said does very well. However if you a story full of people sighing, murmurring, breathing and groaning then the things that people are saying can be overwhelmed by the way they're saying them.

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2005 9:51 am 
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3. Flaming O
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Fair points. You can go overboard and make it look like you're trying too hard. I've had this debate about adverbs with Trom DeGrey. I found after working over my text to try to remove them all, they were conspicuous in their absence.

On the level of description; sometimes less is more though. If a person is watching somebody serruptitiously, leaving it at that can be usefully ambiguous. We're left to wonder why and ask ourselves all the questions your posed above. Depends on what the story needs at that point I guess.

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2005 7:15 pm 
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32. Kisses and Gay Love
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Quote:
"he surreptitiously watched her"?
I think I'd go even farther than what Justin said. Yes write a few sentences but try to show what is surreptitious about the watching. Is he hiding behind a plant? Does it partially obscure his vision of her but completely hide him from her? Is he reading a magazing but glancing over the top? Is he sweating, breathing heavily, leaning on the wall with assumed casualness?

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 12:40 pm 
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Stephen King's book On Writing is superb, and he rails against the adverb quite a bit. I've tried to not go overboard with them in my writing. He also cautions writers against using words other than "said" too much. The exact reasoning for why is escaping me right now, but it made me feel better about defaulting to "said" more often.

It's the most useful and helpful book about writing and the writing process that I've ever read. I really like his writing style and his description - and he tells a heck of a great story.

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 6:20 pm 
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3. Flaming O
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I have a question about fragments. Obviously, in a formal essay fragments are your worst enemy, but what about in a fiction piece? How about when you're character is kind of flippant (ex: Apparently I wasn't good enough. Whatever.) I find myself dropping fragments every once in a while but I'm wondering if others find it annoying.

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 8:44 pm 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light
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Fragments are very common in fiction and for good reason in my opinion: Do you think in complete sentences all the time? I certainly don't. I think portraying believable speech and thought patterns are much more entertaining and allow your reader more insight into your character than anything grammatically correct.

And if anyone finds it annoying, tough. It's your story!:wink

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
PostPosted: Thu Dec 01, 2005 10:05 am 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light
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Fragments are good, they allow you to read in normal thoughts, as Trom points out. I for one like reading thoughts in fragments a lot, because it feels natural, not forced out and totally formal. (I hope I don't go into fragments whilst finishing off my Pride and Prejudice essay...eek!)

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2005 5:14 am 
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10. Troll Hammer

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Semi-colons in dialogue: does anyone think they indicate a rhthym that's not natural to speech?

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2005 5:30 pm 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light
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Interesting question. I hate semicolons and hardly ever use them. I think I usually read right through them as if they're commas. That's what I did in reading your sig.

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
PostPosted: Tue Jun 06, 2006 1:33 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs
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ok i need help.

eg, "i took off my coat" or is it "i took my coat off"?

and what are those called?

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
PostPosted: Tue Jun 06, 2006 5:34 am 
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10. Troll Hammer

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Well, the old "rule" used to be that you weren't supposed to "split an infinitive", but since nobody follows or seems to care about the old rules these days, either version is correct.:)


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 Post subject: Re: Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
PostPosted: Tue Jun 06, 2006 5:37 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs
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oh wonderful. an itched stopped. thanks a lot! :D
since i'm a classics person, i are going "old rule" :smash

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2006 1:03 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs
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hello again,

a few questions.

when you have a list, do you comma before the 'and'?

eg. I have a, b, c(,) and d.

how 'bout: eg. I picked up the spoon(,) and stared at it for a while.

on perspectives, there's omniscient third person limited, which i think is the norm in fanfics? i'm just wondering about the limited part. if we're writing within the boundary of the character, are we writing only what's presently (in the past) happening, keeping with the happenings then (ie thoughts, actions, etc); or are we more of a detached reporter for the character? that is, say, we can delve into the past, comment on the past or something that's not very in the moment--that is something the character wouldn't be at that moment thinking/feeling about?

for example, (for the latter,) i read a fanfic about spike/buffy. buffy just jumped the tower and the author's writing in 3rd limited omn.

Quote:
No! he thought uselessly, and struggled to stand again. But it was too late and he knew it. The ground shuddered beneath him and he felt the wrenching pain of his left leg as he tried to force it to accept his weight. It wasn’t broken, but it might as well have been. He’d fallen from that great height and landed smartly on his knee. His supernaturally enhanced muscles and bones could only take so much abuse before they gave. And, apparently, they drew the line at a seven story drop onto hard concrete.

The world became horribly bright and the air crackled around him. For a moment Spike feared that the sun had reached him…that he would die, there at the foot of the tower, and never see her face again.


imo the author should remove "His supernaturally ... concrete." because it isn't something spike would be thinking about; in the author's judgment, author thinks it should be kept 'cause author's writing from omniscient view. i'm confused.

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2006 6:05 am 
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10. Troll Hammer

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My goodness, but these are some fascinating questions!

Regarding "lists", believe it or not, in the US it's a "generational" thing. I'm old enough to have been taught that one does put the comma in, so: "He left town with lock, stock, and barrel in hand".

Regarding your second example, the use of a comma really depends on how much of a "pause" you want to put in the sentence. If you say "I picked up the spoon and stared at it for a while" (i.e. no comma), you give it a clipped, direct sort of impact--this is the kind of thing that Hemingway aimed for. On the other hand, if your character is in a thoughtful, or "dreamy" state, you might want to increase the length of the pause, something like "I picked up the spoon...and stared at it for a while". In short, it all depends on how you want to "pace" you narrative, not on some hard and fast rule.

Of course, your last question is the most interesting one. To what degree an author should "participate" in his/her narrative is something that has been debated ever since people started telling stories around campfires. To this day, opinion varies wildly. On one hand, you have authors such as Mario Puzo claiming that one should never write in the first person! But what does this imply for something like, say, Dickens' "David Copperfield", a "personal history" which is, as you know, narrated in the first person? Conversely, there are authors who favor extreme detachment from their stories, pointing out that this distance gives them the freedom to comment not only on their characters' behavior, but also on their thoughts and states of mind. Take, for example, "The French Lieutenant's Woman", wherein the author actually comments cynically on the behavior of his own characters!! I suppose it all depends on how much you want to distance yourself and/or your readers from the action and the characters of the story: using first person, you are "in medias res", right in the thick of the action, but you can only comment on your (or your character's) own thoughts; using the third person, you can comment or describe anything (e.g. in "Notre Dame de Paris" [="The Hunchback of Notre Dame"], Victor Hugo takes an entire chapter to describe medieval Paris, which he actually marks "Pas pour le lecteur pressé" [="not for the hurried reader"]!).

So, it all comes down to what makes you the most comfortable. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2006 6:49 pm 
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6. Sassy Eggs
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i love you, Hemiola. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2006 5:09 am 
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10. Troll Hammer

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Aw shucks, 'tweren't nuthin. :blush


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 Post subject: Re: Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2008 6:14 pm 
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6. Sassy Eggs
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This thread is like getting a herbal soak or no! A massage! Proper grammar (even though I am faaar to lazy to regularly enforce it) soothes my insides something plenty!

Yay for all of you! Too many writers now-days are skipping this IMPOORRRTTAAANNT part of the editing process and just doing things all willy-nilly!

:peace

-bell

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 Post subject: Re: Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2016 4:56 am 
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1. Blessed Wannabe

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these rats are integral for our life! http://getessayeditor.com/blog/english-grammar-how-to-use-adverbs has some rules to share about adverbs!


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 Post subject: Re: Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 4:49 pm 
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So I wanted to share a grammar/proof-reading tool I have found that is extremely useful - ESPECIALLY IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A BETA.

I give you, grammarly.com, it has browser plug-ins for IE, Firefox, and Chrome as well as MS Word/Office Suite. This is all free, you can subscribe and pay for more features but you don't have to pay for it to be very helpful.

I'm fairly sure they have MAC equivalents but I won't swear to it. I actually even downloaded the plugin for office at work because it works better than the spell check function built-in, and again all free.

Hope this helps!

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