Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Importance of Punctuation

Help save lives...

The following was sighted recently on a bumper sticker (by my lovely daughter who passed it on to me--thanks, Melissa!)

'Nuff said!

Seen any killer punctuation recently? Or bumper stickers?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Photo Op



Just thought I'd share a little of what's happening over our way--cousins Nicholas and Adrian (and Angelica, tho she isn't in the picture) are together for the first time. Before and after...sometimes it's only a matter of seconds!

Don't let the "after" picture deceive you. We're having a ball--and this grandma is soaking it all up. What first-time summer adventures are you having? Got any before-and-after stories?

"If your baby is 'beautiful and perfect, never cries or fusses, an angel all the time''re probably the grandma." --Teresa Bloomingdale

Thursday, July 7, 2011

C is for...Clumsy

"Practice, practice, practice writing. Writing is a craft that requires both talent and acquired skills. You learn by doing, by making mistakes and then seeing where you went wrong." --Jeffrey A. Carver

It's been awhile since I went back to the basics, and started my own version of a writer's ABC's. I started here: A is for Amateur, B for Bathtub. Now, thanks to John Gardner's classic book, The Art of Fiction, I'm back with letter C.

My choice for C? Well, C is for...clumsy. Clumsy as in clumsy writing. Thank you, Mr. Gardner, for helping me see more of my mistakes, and where I still miss the mark in my writing!

"Clumsy writing," Gardner says, "is...(a) common mistake in the work of amateurs, though it shows up even in the work of very good writers...(it) alienates the reader, or at very least makes it hard for him to concentrate on the fictional dream, and undercuts the writer's authority."

Gardner  goes on to identify forms of clumsiness:

1. inappropriate or excessive use of the passive voice
2. inappropriate use of introductory phrases containing infinite verbs ("sentences that begin with such phrases as 'Looking up slowly from her sewing, Martha said...' The introductory infinite-verb phrase chops the action into fits and starts and loses what effectiveness it might have had.")
3. shifts in diction level or the regular use of distracting diction
4. lack of sentence variety
5. lack of sentence focus
6. faulty rhythm
7. accidental rhyme
8. needless explanation
9. careless shifts in psychic distance (meaning "...the distance the reader feels between himself and the events in the story, e.g. 'It was winter of the year 1853. A large man stepped out of a doorway' When p.d. is great, we look at the scene as if from far away, remote, formal.")

Each of these categories is a study in and of itself, but on this latest read-through of my WIP, I'm concentrating on #s 4 and 6--sentence variety and rhythm.

Of course, there are any number of other "C is for..." words we could consider: character, conflict, crisis, craft, creativity, connection, clarity, criticism, courage, maybe even coffee. Just don't get careless (or clumsy) with coffee at the keyboard!

Is there a category of "clumsiness" in your writing that you've had to concentrate on more than any other?

*photo courtesy of