Follow by Email

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Fiction Writers Contest


Win a critique of the first 1,000 words of your opening chapter.

The winning entry will be posted along with my critique for a week, and be available for comments from other readers of Grammar Yammer. (Winner will have a code name to preserve anonymity.)

To enter the contest, you must be a Follower of Grammar Yammer by August 11, 2012.
You will then have from August 1-11 (but not before) to send me your 1,000-word entry.
The winner's name will be drawn at random and announced on August 31. Winner's entry and my critique will be posted in September. 

Entry details in July.

CONTESTS will be held quarterly for old and new Followers.

NEW INFORMATION POSTED EVERY SATURDAY
Bread crumbs to entice you . . .

The critique will comment on content such as—
#1 – an opening hook
#2 – scene setting
#3 – characterization
#4 – dialogue
#5 – scene flow
#6 -  conflict and tension

. . . follow the trail to the entry date on August 1, 2012.

ON SATURDAY, JULY 7, INSTRUCTIONS FOR ENTERING THE CONTEST WILL BE POSTED.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Writing Numbers


Grammar Rule #4: Spell out all ordinal numbers of one or two words.


         Examples:
         first (not 1st)
         twenty-second (not 22nd)
         one hundredth (not 100th)
         101st (not one hundred first)


Grammar Rule #5: Spell out simple fractions.

         Examples:
         three-quarters of the textbook
         two-thirds of the students
          

Grammar Rule #6: In nonscientific writing, spell out most physical quantities such as distance, lengths, areas, etc.

         Examples:
         five minutes
         forty-five miles an hour
         two-by-four boards
         but
         60-watt bulb
         size 7 shoes


Grammar Rule #7: Do not begin a sentence with arabic numerals.

         Examples:
         Three hundred sixty-five days make a year.
         Nineteen ninety-nine ended the twentieth century.

         Consider rewriting the sentence to avoid awkwardness: Two thousand one was a bad year for the USA. Better: The year 2001 was a bad year for the USA.


Grammar Challenge—Your Turn! Select the correct answer.
         1. This year, Peter and Joan celebrate their (22nd, twenty-second) anniversary.
         2. Larry ran (2/3, two-thirds) of the way home.
         3. Our first home was downtown on (25th, Twenty-fifth) Avenue.
         4. On the (150th, one hundred fiftieth) day of Susan’s diet, she could finally wear a size (10, ten) dress.
         5. (200, Two hundred) crows descended on Farmer Brown’s cornfield.
         6. The students used (3X5, three-by-five) index cards to help with their speeches.
(Answers are below.)

SATURDAY: FICTION WRITERS CONTEST: more details added

Answers:
         1. twenty-second        
2. two-thirds
         3. Twenty-fifth
         4. 150th, 10
         5. Two hundred
         6.  three-by-five

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tips for Sharpening Your Writing Skills


MAKE USE OF THE 20 FIGURES OF SPEECH
(Thursdays, from May 24 to October 4)

6. Chiasmus (ki-AZ-mus): a reversal in the order of words in two otherwise parallel phrases or clauses.


Uses:
To make a larger point through inverted parallelism


Examples of chiasmus:

“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” (John F. Kennedy)

"Fair is foul, and foul is fair."
(William Shakespeare, Macbeth)

"You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget."
(Cormac McCarthy, The Road)

“Sorry, Charlie. Starkist wants tuna that tastes good, not tuna with good taste.” (Starkist tuna advertisement from the 1980s)

"I flee who chases me, and chase who flees me."
(Ovid)

"My job is not to represent Washington to you, but to represent you to Washington."
(Barack Obama)

"Bad men live that they may eat and drink, whereas good men eat and drink that they may live." (Socrates)

“Many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first.” (Matthew 19:30)


FRIDAY: MORE ON WRITING NUMBERS.
SATURDAY: CONTEST FOR FICTION WRITERS—additional details posted.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Writing Numbers


Grammar Rule #1: In nonscientific writing, spell out all numbers of one or two words.

         Examples: sixty, sixty-two, six hundred, sixty-two hundred

         616     6,266


Grammar Rule #2: Year numbers and numbers referring to parts of a book are exceptions to this rule.

         Examples: 62 B.C.     page 62     chapter 6     unit 6
         No commas are used in page numbers: page 1538


Grammar Rule #3: If you are writing several numbers, some of them only two words and some more than two, use arabic numerals for all.

         Example: She saw 21 whales in the Atlantic Ocean and 149 in the Pacific Ocean.


Grammar Challenge—Your Turn! Select the correct answer.
         1. When Sam was (12, twelve), he attended his first summer camp.
         2. One night, Jane read to page (200, two hundred) before she fell asleep.        
         3. Dan ate (3, three) candy bars a day until he quit when he weighed (290, two hundred ninety) pounds.
         4. The Romans razed Jerusalem in A.D. (70, seventy).
         5. Little, (8, eight)-year-old Nora has written a book of poems.
         6. The students were tested over material up to page (2009, 2,009).
(Answers are below.)

THURSDAY: Tips for Sharpening Your Writing Skills
FRIDAY: More on writing numbers

Answers:
         1. twelve
         2. 200        
         3. 3, 290
         4. 70
         5. eight
         6. 2009


FICTION WRITERS: Win a critique! See Saturday’s post for details.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tips for Sharpening Your Writing Skills


Description via Body Language

Are you guilty of using the same-o, same-o body language to describe your characters’ emotions? You know—the raised eyebrow, the lifted eyebrow, the quirked eyebrow, the furrowed brow, the creased brow, the wrinkled brow?

Today I bring you a smorgasbord of fourteen descriptions using body language to express emotion. Next Tuesday I’ll continue with fourteen more.
 
Many thanks to Mary Buckham, who graciously allowed me to share these examples from her WriterUniv.com class on “Body Language and Emotion.”

Examples

“Maybe she hoped counting blessings would ease the harsh lines digging between the chief ranger’s eyebrows.” (Hard Truth, Nevada Barr)

“The words felt like bullets coming from my mouth. They stung and burned me.” (Dead Crazy, Nancy Pickard)   
     
“Her voice was stretched tight like a rubber band at its limit.” (Wife of the Gods, Kwei Quarterly)        

“Les very nearly flinched, then recovered himself and shook hands with her. His fingers were soft and warm, his grip almost nonexistent. It was like shaking hands with a cat’s tail or a draft from the furnace.” (Blood Lure, Nevada Barr)

“They glared, with So What eyes.” (High Tide In Tucson, Barbra Kingsolver)

“She had no idea what ‘bobo perra’ was, but she saw the way Pickering’s face changed when he said it. Mostly it had to do with his upper lip, which wrinkled and then lifted, as the top half of a dog’s snout does when it snarls.” (Just After Sunset, Stephen King)        

“With hands as angry and curved as talons, she grabbed her right ankle and jerked upwards.”  (Hard Truth, Nevada Barr)

“For a moment his eyes stung and his throat burned and tears threatened to boil up.” (The Dirty Secrets Club, Meg Gardiner)

“His fleshless white hands skittered about over his knees like frightened cave spiders.” (Blood Lure, Nevada Barr)

“She shook her head, as if somebody had disagreed with her. Not a hair of her laquered bowling ball moved.” (Dead Crazy, Nancy Pickard)

“Her voice was soft and sounded the way a rose petal feels.” (The Venus Fix, M.J. Rose)

“Cian’s smile showed teeth, but no amusement.” (Ill Wind, Nevada Barr)

“His gaze was as still as a sheet of black ice.” (The Dirty Secrets Club, Meg Gardiner

“He sucked air through his teeth as if to vacuum the words back, but it was too late.” (The Merry Misogynist, Colin Cotterill)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Appositives


An appositive is a noun or noun phrase that adds extra information to the noun directly preceding it.
          Examples:
My sister Lisa is coming for a visit. (Lisa is the appositive, which gives extra information concerning which of my sisters is coming.)
                 
Lassie, my favorite TV dog, is a collie. (My favorite TV dog is the appositive; it gives extra information about who Lassie is.)

Grammar Rule #1: An appositive is enclosed in two commas if the extra information is optional (i.e., it’s nice to know, but not necessary to understand the sentence).

          Examples:
My sister, Lisa, is coming for a visit. (Lisa is enclosed in commas because it’s “nice but just extra information” for the reader to know which sister.)

Lassie, a collie, is my favorite TV dog. (A collie is enclosed in commas because it’s “nice but just extra information” for the reader to know that Lassie is a collie.)

The man, my cousin, ate dinner with us. (My cousin is enclosed in commas because the information is “nice but just extra information” to know about the man.)


Grammar Rule #2: An appositive is NOT enclosed in commas if the extra information is necessary to understand the intent of the sentence.

          Examples:
My sister Lisa is coming for a visit. (Lisa is not enclosed in commas because the writer of the sentence wants the reader to know which sister.)

The collie Lassie is my favorite TV dog. (Lassie is not enclosed in commas because it’s important for the reader to know which collie—for instance, it’s not Lady or Fang.)


Grammar Challenge—Your Turn! Identify the appositive(s) in each sentence.
         1. The horse, a big-time loser, won the Kentucky Derby, which surprised everyone.
         2. When Sam got to work, his boss, the president of the company, announced Sam’s promotion.
         3. My older brothers, James and Joshua, fight all the time over who gets to sit next to my lovely friend Andrea.
         4. The vase of flowers, a mixture of daisies and mums, withered in the hot window.
         5. Orlena didn’t know how she’d get both her pets, a cat and a bird, to the vet at the same time.
         6. The popular novel The Help was made into a movie that everyone loved.
(Answers are below.)

CONTEST FOR FICTION WRITERS: See Saturday for additional details.

Answers:
         1. a big-time loser
         2. the president of the company
         3. James and Joshua + Andrea.
         4. a mixture of daisies and mums        
         5. a cat and a bird
         6. The Help

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Fiction Writers Contest


Win a critique of the first 1,000 words of your opening chapter.

The winning entry will be posted along with my critique for a week, and be available for comments from other readers of Grammar Yammer. (Winner will have a code name to preserve anonymity.)

To enter the contest, you must be a Follower of Grammar Yammer by August 11, 2012.
You will then have from August 1-11 (but not before) to send me your 1,000-word entry.
The winner's name will be drawn at random and announced on August 31. Winner's entry and my critique will be posted in September.The winner will be announced on August 31 and posted in September.

Entry details in July

CONTESTS will be held quarterly for old and new Followers.

NEW INFORMATION POSTED EVERY SATURDAY
Bread crumbs to entice you . . .

The critique will comment on content such as—
#1 – an opening hook
#2 – scene setting
#3 – characterization
#4 – dialogue
#5 – more details next Saturday  :)

. . . follow the trail to the entry date on August 1, 2012.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Indefinite Pronouns + Singular or Plural Verb?


(Continued from Wednesday)

Grammar Rule #2: The following indefinite pronouns are plural and take a plural verb:

both, few, several, many
         Examples:
         Both of the dogs are collies.
         Only a few of the students stay after class for help.
         Too many of the children play in the street.


Grammar Rule #3: The following indefinite pronouns may be either singular or plural, depending on the context of the sentence:

none, some, most, all, any (memorize these)
         Examples:
         Some of the meat smells rancid.
         Some of the birds come to our feeder every day.
         None of the grass grows in the summer.
         None of the sandwiches look appetizing.
         Most of the festival was fun.
         Most of the players were hungry.


Grammar Challenge—Your Turn! Choose the correct verb that goes with the indefinite pronoun.
         1. Both of Lilah’s dresses (fits, fit) her well.
         2. Many of the contestants (wins, win) prizes.
         3. Several of the groomsmen (is, are) tall, dark, and handsome.
         4. Any of the cars (drives, drive) smoothly.
         5. All of the cake (is, are) in my tummy.
         6. Some of the music (sounds, sound) off key.
(Answers are below.)

FICTION WRITERS: WIN A CRITIQUE! See tomorrow’s post for yet more details.

Answers:
         1. fit
         2. win
         3. are
         4. drive
         5. is
         6. sounds



Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tips for Sharpening Your Writing Skills


MAKE USE OF THE 20 FIGURES OF SPEECH
(Thursdays, from May 24 to October 4)

5. Assonance (ASS-a-nins): The repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds in neighboring words.

The consonant sounds preceding and following these vowels do not agree. Thus, “the quest to bless at her behest” is not assonance.

Uses:
Most often used in poetry and music
Adds interest to the writing
Adds emphasis by subtly drawing attention to the words
Creates “atmosphere” through the sounds

Warnings:
Avoid excessive assonance that draws attention to itself
Editors cringe at overdone assonance in prose


Examples of assonance:

"It beats . . . as it sweeps . . . as it cleans!"
(ad for Hoover vacuum cleaners, 1950s)

"The spider skins lie on their sides, translucent and ragged, their legs drying in knots."
(Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm, 1977)

"In the over-mastering loneliness of that moment, his whole life seemed to him nothing but vanity."
(Robert Penn Warren, Night Rider, 1939)

"Strips of tinfoil winking like people"
(Sylvia Plath, "The Bee Meeting")


CONTEST FOR FICTION WRITERS: See Saturday for additional details.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Indefinite Pronouns + Singular or Plural Verb?


An indefinite pronoun is “generic,” or "not specific," and usually has no antecedent.
         Examples: each, either, one, anybody, some, more, all

Grammar Rule #1: The following indefinite pronouns are singular and take a singular verb:

each, either, neither
         Examples:
         Each of the nurses has taken care of her patients.
         Either of my brothers likes to help with taxes.
         Neither of the gardens contains flowers.

one, everyone, no one, anyone, someone
         Examples:
         At least one of my friends remembers my birthday.
         Everyone goes to the beach for vacation.
         No one feels sick from eating pizza except me.
        
everybody, nobody, anybody, somebody
         Examples:
         Everybody in English 101 earns an A.
         Nobody swims in our pool nowadays.
         Somebody loves me, but who?

FRIDAY: 4 indefinite pronouns take a plural verb
                5 others take either a singular or plural verb


Grammar Challenge—Your Turn! Choose the correct verb that goes with the indefinite pronoun.
         1. Each of the six rules (makes, make) sense.
         2. I think one of the dogs (is, are) sick.
         3. Nobody (wants, want) a low-paying job.      
4. Neither of my uncles (drinks, drink) alcohol.
         5. Someone (needs, need) to know the emergency procedure.
         6. A good waiter makes sure everybody (has, have) what they ordered.
(Answers are below.)

THURSDAY: TIPS FOR SHARPENING YOUR WRITING SKILLS.
FRIDAY: MORE ON INDEFINITE PRONOUNS + SINGULAR OR PLURAL VERB?

Answers:
         1. makes
         2. is
         3. wants
         4. drinks
         5. needs
         6. has


FICTION WRITERS: WIN A CRITIQUE! See Saturday’s post for additional details. 




There was an error in this gadget