A Writer's Journey through the Maze of Life

Monday, April 16, 2012

Green Grammar 2

Is your grammar a little green? Does it need a little polishing? Did you take the quiz. If so, here's the answers:
1.  father-in-law's  Rule: For compound words, use the correct possessive form for the word closest to the noun.
2.  children's  Rule: Use apostrophe 's when showing possession for plural nouns not ending in s.
3.  Bill's and Bandy's  Rule: Make both words possessive to show individual ownership.
4.  is Rule: The phrases "as well as," "along with" and "together with" modify the noun. Because they don't make a compound subject, use the proper verb for the noun, which is the singular "third grade class".
5.  is  Rule: When used alone, "pants" requires a plural verb. In this sentence, the subject is "pair" which requires a singular verb.
6.  manufactures  Rule: Treat titles as a singular subject even when the title itself is plural.
7.  do  Rule: When using "neither/nor" or "either/or" the verb agrees with the closest subject, which is "Emily" in this sentence.
8.  English,art and three  Rule:Capitalize words derived from proper nouns.
9.  president  Governor   Rule: Capitalize titles of high-ranking govt. officials when used with or before their names. Don't capitalize the civil title if it's used instead of a name.
10.  North  Rule: Capitalize North, South, East and West when referring to regions. Use lowercase when indicating directions, i.e. The storm is moving north east.

Envious is when you want something that belongs to someone else.
Jealous is used to describe the fear of losing something you possess;suspicion of rivalry or unfaithfulness; an intense effort to hold on to what you possess.

Allusion is an indirect reference.
Illusion is a deceptive appearance, mirage, hallucination, trick.
Delusion is false, often perilous belief.

Honed is to sharpen.
Homed is to move toward a destination with accuracy.

I know two or three tricked me. I think part of the reason we have trouble with grammar is because of the way we talk. We don't use proper English when we speak. Often we don't enunciate. Sometimes regional dialects make it difficult to know whether the word is being used correctly. But that doesn't excuse us as writers from not using proper grammar.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Grammar and punctuation, the bane of many writers.
Just how important is correct grammar? Spelling? Punctuation? I just finished a book by a fairly well known writer and found it rather appalling to find the word spelt.  Since it was a western, I assume he wanted spelled as in "He spelled me for awhile."  Spelt is a grain. I also found some other errors, but I'm not going to elaborate. Let's face it, when we've looked at our ms for the twentieth time, sometimes the words just blur through our glazed-over eyes.

However it is our duty as writers to--sigh,yes, one more thing to consume our precious time--review the rules of grammar and punctuation. Spelling is simply a matter of taking a moment to either look it up or use spell check And realize that spell-check is not the end-all. You certainly wouldn't want to read "Witch is it?" Readability depends on our getting things right.

That said, here's a little quiz. See how you do.

Choose which word (in bold) is correct.

1. My father's-in-law/father-in-law's tenth reunion is next weekend.
2. The children's/childrens' Sunday School class will present a play next Sunday.
3. Bill's and Bandy's/Bill and Bandy's projects were the same.
4. The fourth grade class, along with their parents, are/is on a field trip today.
5. Nate's favorite pair of pants are/is in the wash.
6. General Motors manufactures/manufacture Chevrolets, Pontiacs and other brands.
7. Neither Clayton or/nor Emily does/do the laundry.
8. Emily signed up for english/English, art/Art and three electives.
9. The president/President stayed with governor/Governor Huckabee during his fishing trip.
10. Candy was eager to leave the north/North due to its long, cold winter.

Know the difference between Envious and Jealous?

Know the difference between Allusion, Illusion and Delusion?

Here's one I see  misused a lot. Home and Hone. Which is correct?
Ron honed/homed in on his gardening skills.
The police honed/homed in on the perpetrator.

I'll be back in a day or two with the correct answers. Meanwhile, if you got every one right, go to the head of the class. Miss a couple? A little review might be needed. Miss more than four? Hit the books!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Contests--Pro or Con?

 Do you enter writing contests? Many writers do. And yet, unbelieveably, I know a couple writers who refuse to enter contests. I fail to understand their rationale--they think it is a waste of time as contests are subjectively judged (if the judge likes a certain form and you write in rhymed couplets you'll probably be disqualified or it's just a matter of what the judge likes). This is true up to a point. But most judges are open to all forms of poetry or writing styles; it is the skill that is exhibited in the ms that counts. The naysayers also say why write for a pittance, I'm holding out for the big bucks with my novel.

So are they worth it? This is just my take, but I find contests vital. Not only are you competing to win a few bucks (sometimes very substantial bucks!) but judges become familiar with your name. If the contest publishes the winning contents, that's another feather in your cap. The more your name becomes familiar, the better chance of eventual fame.

That said there are a couple GOLDEN RULES you should never break. Follow the rules! If they ask for a max of 2000 words, don't think you can squeak by with 2005 words. Some contests want your personal info in the left hand corner of one copy, with nothing on your ms. copy. Others want the info on the right hand corner. Others want your personal info on a cover letter. Follow the directions explicitly or you may be disqualified and you have only yourself to blame. And don't forget your SASE!

That said I thought I'd list a few current contests that welcome beginners to pros. Good luck!