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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Grammar Yammer Schedule


Mondays: grammar and punctuation

Thursdays: “Tips for Sharpening Your Writing Skills”

Quarterly: Win a critique and read comments from other writers.
         August Winners:
September 6-12: Critique of first winner
         October 11-17: Critique of second winner
         November 15-21: Critique of third winner

         Next entry date to win a critique: November 1-11, 2012


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tips for Sharpening Your Writing Skills


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

15. Simile (SIM-i-lee): An explicit comparison between two fundamentally unlike things, usually introduced by like or as (“my love is like a red, red rose”).

How does a simile differ from a metaphor? In a simile, the two words are understood to be literal. In contrast, the words in a metaphor transfer the literal meaning of the first word to a figurative meaning in the second word. In both a simile and a metaphor, the reader/listener has to figure out what the point of comparison is.

“My father grumbles like a bear” is a simile in which father and bear are literal (i.e., father and bear are just that—a real father and a real bear—and the father grumbles like a bear).
“My father is a bear before his morning cup of coffee” is a metaphor in which father is literal and bear is figurative (i.e., the father is not a literal bear that turns into dear old Dad after his coffee ~ unless this is a fantasy story).

Uses:
To create vivid images in the reader’s mind
To convey understanding through the comparison

Examples of simile:

"Without warning, Lionel gave one of his tight little sneezes: it sounded like a bullet fired through a silencer."
(Martin Amis, Lionel Asbo: State of England)

"When Lee Mellon finished the apple he smacked his lips together like a pair of cymbals."
(Richard Brautigan, A Confederate General From Big Sur)

"Good coffee is like friendship: rich and warm and strong."
(slogan of Pan-American Coffee Bureau)

"You know life, life is rather like opening a tin of sardines. We're all of us looking for the key."
(Alan Bennett, Beyond the Fringe)

"He was like a cock who thought the sun had risen to hear him crow."
(George Eliot, Adam Bede)

"The Duke's moustache was rising and falling like seaweed on an ebb-tide."
(P.G. Wodehouse, Uncle Fred in the Springtime)

"Life is like an onion: You peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep."
(Carl Sandburg)

"My face looks like a wedding-cake left out in the rain."
(W.H. Auden)

"[H]e looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food."
(Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely)

"She dealt with moral problems as a cleaver deals with meat."
(James Joyce, "The Boarding House")

I FOUND A SIMILE OR A METAPHOR ON ALMOST EVERY PAGE OF TIM DOWN’S BUG MAN SERIES. DELIGHTFUL!

Monday, September 24, 2012

A or An?


In American English, the use of a or an depends on the pronunciation of the word it precedes.

GRAMMAR RULE #1: Use a before any word beginning with a consonant sound .

         Examples:
         a union
         a historical document
         a euro


GRAMMAR RULE #2: Use an before any word beginning with a vowel sound.

         Examples:
         an upstairs office
         an hour
an X-ray


GRAMMAR RULE #3: Follow the same rules before an acronym (which is pronounced as a word) and an initialism (the letters are sounded out individually).

Examples: acronym (pronounced as a word)
a NATO ally
an ANZAC campaign

Examples: initialism (letters are sounded out individually)
a UFO [U-F-O] sighting
an HTML [H-T-M-L] document 


GRAMMAR RULE #4: Follow the same rules before a numeral or a symbol.
         Examples:
         a 1-800 number
         an 800 number
         an @ symbol


GRAMMAR CHALLENGE—Your turn! Choose the correct answer.
1. Add (a, an) onion to the shopping list.
2. I’ve lived in (a, an) European city and (a, an) Asian one.
3. Lori is (a, an) NBC anchorwoman.
4. Grandpa asked what (a, an) URL was.
5. Laura can’t find (a, an) * key on her keyboard.
6. Is that (a, an) 11 or two l’s?
(Answers are below.)

THURSDAY: TIPS FOR SHARPENING YOUR WRITING  SKILLS

Answers:
1. an onion
2. a European, an Asian
3. an NBC
4. a URL
5. an *
6. an 11 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Grammar Yammer Schedule


Mondays: grammar and punctuation

Thursdays: “Tips for Sharpening Your Writing Skills”

Quarterly: Win a critique and read comments from other writers.
         August Winners:
September 6-12: Critique of first winner
         October 11-17: Critique of second winner
         November 15-21: Critique of third winner

         Next entry date to win a critique: November 1-11, 2012


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tips for Sharpening Your Writing Skills


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

14. Personification (per-SON-if-i-KAY-shun): The endowment of human qualities or abilities on an inanimate object or abstraction.

Uses:
To add drama and interest
To better identify an event or feeling 
To intensify mood

Examples of personification:

Justice as a blindfolded woman with a sword and balance scales.

Slogans:
"Oreo: Milk’s favorite cookie."
(on packages of Oreo cookies)
"The road isn't built that can make it breathe hard!"
(Chevrolet automobiles)

“The wind stood up and gave a shout.

He whistled on his fingers and


Kicked the withered leaves about

And thumped the branches with his hand


And said he'd kill and kill and kill,

And so he will! And so he will!”

(James Stephens, "The Wind")

"Only the champion daisy trees were serene. After all, they were part of a rain forest already two thousand years old and scheduled for eternity, so they ignored the men and continued to rock the diamondbacks that slept in their arms. It took the river to persuade them that indeed the world was altered."
(Toni Morrison, Tar Baby)

"Unseen, in the background, Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing gloves."
(P.G. Wodehouse, Very Good, Jeeves)

"Dirk turned on the car wipers, which grumbled because they didn't have quite enough rain to wipe away, so he turned them off again. Rain quickly speckled the windscreen. He turned on the wipers again, but they still refused to feel that the exercise was worthwhile, and scraped and squeaked in protest."
(Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul)

"Do villany, do, since you protest to do't,

Like workmen. I'll example you with thievery.

The sun's a thief, and with his great attraction

Robs the vast sea; the moon's an arrant thief,

And her pale fire she snatches from the sun;

The sea's a thief, whose liquid surge resolves

The moon into salt tears; the earth's a thief,

That feeds and breeds by a composture stolen

From general excrement: each thing's a thief."

(Timon in Timon of Athens by William Shakespeare)


Monday, September 17, 2012

Answers to Readers' Questions


1. QUESTION: How do you handle two prepositions in a row, such as “he never gave in in a fight”?

ANSWER: When prepositions clash, it’s always best to rewrite the sentence.
        
Examples for He never gave in in a fight:
         In a fight, he never gave in.
He refused to yield in a fight.
He never gave in, no matter how tough the fight.


2. QUESTION: Does a lowercase or capital letter follow a colon in a sentence?

ANSWER: Most of the time, a lowercase letter is appropriate. However, if the colon introduces two or more sentences, use a capital letter.

         Examples:
         His research addressed three kinds of pests: flies, mosquitoes, and gnats.
         Many of the actors held several jobs: half the cast, for example, worked as waiters and deliverymen.
         He was unsure about the correct choice: Should he go by the book and purchase a pistol? Or should he go with his gut and get the rifle?


HOW ABOUT YOU? WHAT GRAMMAR QUESTION DRIVES YOU CRAZY?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Grammar Yammer Schedule


Mondays: grammar and punctuation

Thursdays: “Tips for Sharpening Your Writing Skills”

Quarterly: Win a critique and read comments from other writers.
         August Winners:
         September 6-12: Critique of first winner
         October 11-17: Critique of second winner
         November 15-21: Critique of third winner

         Next entry date to win a critique: November 1-11, 2012


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tips for Sharpening Your Writing Skills


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

14. Paradox (PAR-a-dox): A statement that appears to contradict itself.

Uses:
To present a truth through startling contradiction
To create surprise

Examples of paradox:

"I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love."
(Mother Teresa)

"The swiftest traveler is he that goes afoot."
(Henry David Thoreau, Walden)

“I have no name, you may call me V.” (V for Vendetta)

"If you wish to preserve your secret, wrap it up in frankness."
(Alexander Smith, "On the Writing of Essays")

"Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again."
(C.S. Lewis to his godchild, Lucy Barfield, to whom he dedicated The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe)

"War is peace."
"Freedom is slavery."
"Ignorance is strength."
(George Orwell, 1984)

“I can resist anything except temptation.” (Oscar Wilde)

“Je ne parle pas francais.” (Bart Simpson in The Simpsons)

“Truly, shepherd, in respect of itself, it is a good life, but in respect that it is a shepherd’s life, it is naught. In respect that it is solitary, I like it very well; but in respect that it is private, it is a very vile life. Now, in respect it is in the fields, it pleaseth me well; but in respect it is not in the court, it is tedious. As is it a spare life, look you, it fits my humour well; but as there is no more plenty in it, it goes much against my stomach.” (Touchstone in As You Like It, William Shakespeare)

"You will notice that what we are aiming at when we fall in love is a very strange paradox. The paradox consists of the fact that, when we fall in love, we are seeking to re-find all or some of the people to whom we were attached as children. On the other hand, we ask our beloved to correct all of the wrongs that these early parents or siblings inflicted upon us. So that love contains in it the contradiction: the attempt to return to the past and the attempt to undo the past."
(Martin Bergmann as Professor Levy in Crimes and Misdemeanors)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Friday, September 7, 2012



Sorry ~ the September entry and critique have been removed, but the October, November, and December entries and critiques are still posted.

Thursday, September 6, 2012




Sorry ~ the September entry and critique have been removed, but the October, November, and December entries and critiques are still posted.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Dare You Split an Infinitive?


Should you say “to go boldly” or “to boldly go”?

GRAMMAR RULE #1: When a verb phrase is modified by an adverb, the modifier typically goes directly after the first auxiliary (helping) verb.

Examples:
          We should always eat healthy food.
Chocolate will never be considered anything but healthy.
Bizarre diseases could certainly happen if we eliminate chocolate.
        

GRAMMAR RULE #2: Similarly, it is grammatically acceptable—and sometimes preferable—for an adverb to split an infinitive.

         Examples: Which of the following choices sounds best?
         Our mandate is to go boldly where no man has gone before.
         Our mandate is to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Both choices are acceptable, but the sentence with the split infinitive flows best and is the preferable choice.

Which of the following choices sounds best?
The escapee had to quickly run or get caught.
The escapee had to run quickly or get caught.

Both choices are acceptable, but in this case the sentence avoiding a split infinitive flows best and is the preferable choice.


GRAMMAR CHALLENGE—Your Turn! Which sentence is preferable in each pair?
         1. The teenager failed in his attempt to drive skillfully.
2. The teenager failed in his attempt to skillfully drive.
3. Sam’s motto is to always do his best.
4. Sam’s motto is to do his best always.
5. Women tend to strongly favor romantic stories.
6. Women tend to favor romantic stories strongly.
(Answers are below.)

THURSDAY: SEPTEMBER'S CRITIQUE WINNER: OPENING 1,000 WORDS

Answers:
         #1 is preferable to #2.
         #3 is preferable to #4.
         #5 is preferable to #6.

DOES YOUR EAR HEAR A DIFFERENCE IN WHERE THE ADVERB IS PLACED?


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