Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Word Wednesday August 30/11

So this week I thought I'd give you all a link to how to properly use commas. This is my personal writing demon as I'm sure you know if you've read some of my previous posts. I simply cannot remember when I put a comma before "and" and when not to. Anyways, this has helped me, and I hope it helps you as well.

P.S. My posting is going to be kind of out of wack because school's starting next week, and my laptop cord is dead and gone, so I'm on limited computer access. Have a nice week!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Liebster Blog Award!

Today I got awarded with the Liebster Blog Award. I've seen it popping up here and there on some blogs that I follow, and I never really thought about it that much (ok that's a bit of a lie, I might have been the tinsy bit envious). Anyways, I never really thought about what "Liebster" meant, so when I was awarded by Megan Rae Lollman (Thanks so much!) I hopped over to my favourite search engine, Google, to check it out. It turns out that "Liebster" is German for "favourite". So, there's a bit of useless knowledge for all you non-Germans out there!

Now for the important stuff!

I quote:

The goal of the Liebster Blog Award is to showcase up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. The rules:
  1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who bestowed the award on you
  2. Reveal your top five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog
  3. Copy and paste the award on your blog
  4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love
  5. Have bloggity-blog fun!
Now for my selections! Drum roll please!

Dakota Densmore @ Super Hyper Human Beings This is actually a joint blog between me, Destiny, and Kota, but Dakota has some of the funniest things to say. Therefore, she deserves mention. Check out some of her posts here, here, and here. Be sure the take note of the author section at the bottom of the posts.

There you have it! Wow, that took a whole lot longer then I thought it would, lol.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Word Wednesday August 17/11

This week, I'm simply to busy (and not to mention lazy) to write up an actual post, so I decided to share this picture that I just love. I'm not really sure why I like it, and I'm pretty sure some people might think it's creepy, but hey. Enjoy:)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Listening to Dialogue

This week I'm super excited (and not to mention busy), because my church is doing VBS (Vacation Bible School). We've been in the Big Apple, and having a great time, with the occasional spill, and screaming child. During these last two weeks -last week was prep week- all of us leaders, and helpers have been living and breathing VBS. In fact, I'm listening to a song that I've got to learn for Worship tomorrow as I'm writing this. During this week, so far, I've listened to a lot of conversations. Some forced ones between parents, some hardly intelligible ones between kids, some frantic ones with leaders, some that weren't even in English, and some I've participated in myself (I don't spend ALL my time eavesdropping). All that being said, I've been inspired to write this week's post on listening to people.

No, I'm not talking about HOW one should listen, but why writers should listen extra hard. I'm talking about dialogue (no pun intended). Personally, unrealistic dialogue is one of the key elements that will turn me away from a story. If I can't hear the character talking as I read the story, then I probably won't believe in your character. Nobody likes flat characters. So, it's important to listen to the way people phrase their words, and how they talk to add the realism that one needs in their story.

Things to listen for:
-Amount/placement of words. Eg.
We might write: "Could you please get me the milk from the refrigerator?"
Whereas it's more likely for someone to say: "Get me the milk please. It's in the fridge."

-Contractions. Eg.
We might write: "They did not come."
Whereas it's more likely for someone to say: "They didn't come."
People only separate contractions for emphasis. See the difference:
"Johnny, you aren't allowed to do that!"
"Johnny, you are not allowed to do that!"

-Slang. Eg.
We might write: "Give me a tissue."
Whereas it's more likely for someone to say: "Give me a Kleenex."

-Pace. Eg.
We might write: "Well, I guess I'll come," Fred said.
Whereas it's more likely for someone to say: "Well," Fred said, "I guess I'll come."
It's more natural for a pause after 'Well', and even though I didn't outright say that there was a pause, it was implied by interrupting the sentence with 'Fred said'.

There are many other things to listen for, but those are the main ones I came up with. Feel free to comment with other ideas. Basically, it's important to listen to how certain types of people talk and apply it to similar characters. For example, you wouldn't write a high society lady's dialogue based off of what you've heard from your teen friends, or a kid's dialogue based off something you heard from your teacher. However, you would listen to a child's talking, as I am doing this week, and apply it to a child character in your story. I think you get the picture. So, this week listen to the way people are talking, and apply it to your dialogue.

Have an excellent rest of the week! I'm off to the Big Apple once again!

P.S. I came back to add this a little bit after it was published, because I forgot earlier, haha. Don't worry about proper grammar for dialogue. Obviously, use the proper commas, periods, quotation marks etc., but don't worry about fragment sentences, or not 'proper' arrangement of words. People often don't speak with proper grammar, and that's okay to show in dialogue.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


This is completely random, and totally off my usual routine, but I could not resist sharing. The other day I was just surfing the web, procrastinating (ie. not writing), and I came across this really lovely Harry Potter fanfiction. In general, I don't go for fanfic, but this one stood out among the crowd. If you're a HP fan, you'll love this. It brought a tear to my eye, and gave a nice finish to the series. Check it out here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Word Wednesday August 10/11

This week I decided, on common opinion, that I was going to change it up a bit. I posted a video below called "The History of English". Its the first in a series of ten videos that are about a minute long that talk about how the English language was created, and it's transformation until the modern day. I thought they were pretty funny.

P.S. I think the videos are pretty clean, but there may be a few things. Anyways, enjoy!

If you care to watch the other videos, just follow the YouTube link in the video.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Anglo-Saxon vs. Latinate

Often times in writing, I talk about content, content, and more content. How to foreshadow, how to create believable characters, plotting etc. etc. However, I rarely talk about the finer mechanics of writing and words in general. For a few reasons, the most prominent being that its intimidating. I don't know everything when it comes to grammar, or when it comes to sentence structure. However, this week, I have decided to venture into some lesser known territory. I wanted to discuss word usage. In particular, using Ango-Saxon words vs. using Latinate words.

Basically, after the Romans left Britain in 410 AD, Germanic tribes started to populate Britain. A few of the main tribes were the Anglos, and the Saxons, which gave historians the name Anglo-Saxon. Along with themselves, they brought their vocabulary (Anglo-Saxon words), words like house, send, or stop.

Latinate words come from, you guessed it, Latin. In 591, Christian missionaries brought Latin to Britain, and so from the Latin, many English words were derived. Latinate words have Latin roots, such as, aquarium (aqua in Latin means water).

Now that the little history lesson is taken care of (hopefully I got the facts right, if not let me know!), onto how it matters to you as a writer. Let's start by identifying the different characteristics of each type of word.

Anglo-Saxon words:
-Usually less formal
-Often single syllables
-Can be more forceful, shocking, and harsher. For example, some profanities are of Anglo-Saxon origin.
Some examples of Anglo-Saxon words: send, build, stop, hearty, mock, the s-word, the f-word (I use those short forms to be sensitive.)

Latinate words:
-Usually more formal
-Often polysyllabic
-Have a more "high society"/proper feel
-Stress is often on the second syllable
-Often turn into euphemisms for blunter Anglo-Saxon words
Some examples of Latinate words (see how they contrast to Anglo-Saxon words): transmit, construct, resist, cordial, imitate, excrement, intercourse

The major thing about knowing about these two types of words is that a writer needs to understand how to use them together. If a writer uses to many Latinate words then that will lead to stuffy prose. On the flip side, if a writer uses too many Anglo-Saxon words it will lead to plain prose. Although, using more Anglo-Saxon words is generally a better idea, it's important to know how to use Latinate words. I find, that the trick to using Latinate words the best way, is to have them contrasting with Anglo-Saxon words. Such as, "The woman was the opposite of stale, and unprofitable." The word 'stale' being the Anglo-Saxon word, and 'unprofitable' being the Latinate word. It's important to use the Latinate words among Anglo-Saxon words to create interesting prose, so long as you don't get carried away with overly formal Latinate words.

Alright, so this post is bordering on confusing, so to sum everything up. It's important to be aware of the different types of words, and the effects they have on your writing. It really is a judgement call as to whether you have too many Latinate words, or not enough in your writing. Good luck!

Monday, August 1, 2011

First Comes Email Exchange, Then Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage...: Part 2

This post is a continuation of the post from two weeks ago (I was in cottage country last week!) on foreshadowing, so if you haven't read that yet, I would highly recommend that you do. Read it here. To recap a few points I mentioned in last week's post:

-Foreshadowing is suggesting in advance that something will happen.
-Foreshadowing engages a reader, and lets them know that something will be happening.
-You can foreshadow by telling the reader, writing a pre-scene, and giving character's irrational emotions.

Now, onto the new stuff! I'll continue with writing the different ways that one can foreshadow.

Writing a "loaded gun".
You've probably heard of the expression that if you show a gun hanging on the wall in act one it has to be fired by act three. In this type of foreshadowing, that is a very key concept to remember. When writing the "loaded gun" type of foreshadowing you show the reader something/someone that will have to be used later in the novel, and thus get them wondering about it. For example:

Judy turned sideways to slither between two cars of despicable taste. One was still running, and the other had a set of keys sitting on the hood.


Sarah reached into her purse, and realized that her pepper spray was missing.

In the second example, it twisted the "loaded gun" method, but still the same concept. This concept is where you show the reader something/someone (or the lack or something/someone) that will come into play later in the novel.

Giving a character an opinion.
This method of foreshadowing is one of the more overt ones. In this way, a character has an opinion of what is to come, and 'promises' the reader something. In real life, people have opinions about what is to come all the time that are wrong. However, a reader has the tendency to believe what character's say especially if they're one of the main characters. For example:

I already knew that the day would be long and boring before we even got to the shoe store.

This statement 'promises' the reader a day that is going to be long, and boring. The reader will want to continue to see how it turns out. I say 'promises' in quotations, because foreshadowing can be effectively used to foreshadow the opposite of what it suggests. For example, the day could be exciting, and fun. More on that later.

Have a prophecy.
Again, this is another more obvious one. It's pretty straight forward, so I won't spend to long on it. By having some prophecy surrounding a character, is another way to get the reader interested. If you have your main character prophesied to kill off the antagonist then it will grab the reader's interest making them want to find out how, and what happens when the main character eventually has to battle the antagonist (ex. Harry Potter prophesied to kill Voldemort).

Having Symbolism
Symbolism can be a tricky business, as it is one of the softer ways to foreshadow. When you foreshadow through symbolism you show the reader something, and depend on the connotation that surround the object of the symbolism. Again, in real life we don't normally take stormy weather, or walking under a ladder that seriously, but in fiction everything has a meaning. For example,

The necklace her mother had given her when she married was lying in pieces in the drawer.

This particular statement would seemingly elude to the marriage failing, because the necklace broke. As a reader, that's what I would expect, and that's why I would keep reading. When using symbolism it's important not to be too abstract, and use something that has a connotation that most people aren't familiar with. Here's two examples of symbolism people would recognize, and symbolism people wouldn't recognize.

Roses symbolizing love.

Hydrangeas symbolizing boastfulness.

Most people associate roses with love, but hydrangeas? I wouldn't associate them with boastfulness, although that is what they represent according to Google. An author may think they're being clever by using something abstract, but honestly, that's just annoys, and confuses to the reader. Overall, using symbolism is a very broad topic, and can be employed in many different ways.

I have two main cautions when foreshadowing. Don't be corny, and follow through with your 'promises'. The first caution is fairly obvious, and hard to pin point, but most people know it when they see it. Following through is much easier to discuss. Basically if you say the gun is going to be fired, it better be fired. If you never mention that loaded gun again, then the readers will feel cheated. I'm not saying that you have to do exactly what you promise, quite the contrary really, but you have to do something with it. I can't think of a better way to explain this then to quote the article I used to write this:

"Foreshadow that the gun will be fired. Imply that Character A will use it to kill Character B. But actually, in the end, Character A uses it to kill himself."

In conclusion, this list I've shared which I learned from this article is just a few ways to foreshadow. There are endless possibilities waiting to be explored. The only thing that really matters is that you, the author, is suggesting events of the plot to the reader in advance.

Anyways, have a great rest of the summer filled with many many words!
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