WHAT EVERY WRITER NEEDS TO KNOW

 

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by Catherine Browning

Writing novels didn’t start for me until after my teaching career came to a successful close. That’s when I purchased a Kindle and started reading everything I could find of interest. In judging the merit of novels, one of the major criteria is grammar. It was a shock to find that many modern day writers didn’t know the rules of English grammar or word usage. Here are some recent examples:

. . . or whomever he was.

He indicated she was to proceed him into the room.

What were you thinking of?

My brother came between Carlos and I.

You may be thinking, what is wrong with those quotes? Allow me to explain. The verb to be is a grammatical equal sign. Subject and object are the same, so the first example should read:  

. . . or whoever he was.

The second example is confusing the two verbs proceed and precede. Proceed means to continue or move forward. Precede means to go before. So, that example should read:

He indicated she was to precede him into the room.

In the next example, the basic rule is to never end a sentence with a preposition. There are multiple ways to fix this example.

  1. What were you thinking?
  2. Of what were you thinking?
  3. What were you contemplating?
  4. What were you considering?

In the last example between is a preposition and requires the object form of the pronoun I.

The example should read:

My brother came between Carlos and me.

Numerous books on grammatical usage are available. Chicago Manual of Style is one that many editors use. Another that I have found helpful is Essentials of English by Hopper, Gale, Foote, and Griffith. Or go to your local Community College and take a basic class. No matter what your answer is, using good grammar can only enhance your writing.

Thanks for reading my thoughts . . . and may your next novel be a bestseller!

 

 

 

 

Tally the Writing Dog

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By Kathy Dunnehoff

I have a writing friend who calls his muse Becky. Sure, it made us all smile when he said it, but whatever works for a writer is nothing but good!

I thought what worked for me was silence. It was in very short supply when I began writing novels. My daughters were young and fun and noisy. I would set a timer when I needed to go into my home office, and when it was about to go off, I would hear them breathing at the door. Needless to say, I did my most productive writing away from the house. On Saturday mornings, for years, my husband Thom would shoo me out the door to a nearby café, and I would get several productive hours in.

When our girls were older, there was less need for leaving the house to write and wonderful silence during the day to get my work done. So, when the idea of getting a puppy was raised, I was reluctant, to say the least. Sure, I wanted one, but I was afraid the “company” during the day would slow me down.

What I found when that little Yorkie came into my life, was a muse, a writing companion. Tally would sit at my feet when I wrote, and her warmth and quiet sleep made me feel like I had just the right kind of company for the lone work of writing.

Five years later, we’ve gotten into the habit of writing first thing in the morning in bed. As soon as Thom leaves for work, I fire up the laptop, and Tally moves from my lap to curl up beside the computer screen.

My muse isn’t named Becky, but I have been thinking about getting another puppy…

 

A Journey through Chaos

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By Janice McCaffrey

Where do creative ideas come from? I didn’t know so, of course, executed a Google search. One of the sites I found suggested that a person write down a word and follow that word with another that begins with the last letter of the previous word. And so on, and so on. The idea being that while your left-brain is busy thinking up words your right-brain will be inspired. H-m-m-m. I gave it a try.

Since I needed ideas for a Montana Women Writers blog entry, I started with the word “writers,” And this is how it went:

words for blog

How many creative ideas did I have at the end of this exercise? NONE!

Weeks later while working on another project I found an interesting article on creativity (of course, through a Google search). Nancy C. Andreason, M.D., Ph.D. directs research at the University of Iowa using brain scans and wrote a paper entitled: A Journey into Chaos: Creativity and the Unconscious.

The paper first describes four steps that her team established after interviews with creative people. 1). Preparation-when basic information and/or skills are gathered. 2). Incubation-a relaxed time during which the person does not work consciously to solve the problem. 3). Inspiration-what she calls the “eureka experience” when suddenly ideas come to mind and 4). Production-when the ideas are put into action.

Her group then ran brain scans on people while they were in a relaxed state. Their minds wandered freely without censorship. She reported that while the participants experienced a relaxed state, their neural level association cortices were working actively. She explains that while we’re relaxed our brains throw out feelers for concrete associations of colors, images, and concepts. These ideas collide until pairs interlock and make stable combinations. Then the brain’s self-organizing system spontaneously and frequently changes the pairs to produce something new. Her Take home message: The creative process is characterized by flashes of insight that arise from unconscious reservoirs of the mind and brain.

Oh, that’s why the good ideas come when in the shower, in bed but awake, or taking a walk alone.

So, need to enhance your creativity? Think about what you need…ideas for a blog, description of a setting, a character’s name, plot points, best color to paint your living room? Whatever. Find a quiet spot and relax, meditate or just sit in quiet (without falling asleep) and without thinking about what you need. Just float for 20-30 minutes. Inspiration will come to your mind either right then or some time later.

The journey takes our thoughts from chaos to creativity. Enjoy the ride!

March Book News

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The quirkiest of quirky holidays in March

Here are a few of the whackiest special days, but be sure to check out the full list on HolidayInsights.com.

*March 1 Peanut Butter Lovers’ Day
              *March 2 Old Stuff Day                              *March 3 If Pets Had Thumbs Day
*March 6 National Frozen Food Day                          *March 9 Panic Day     
*March 10 Middle Name Pride Day                 *March 11 Worship of Tools Day
                 *March 13 Ear Muff Day            *March 15 Dumbstruck Day       
*March 16 Everything You Do is Right Day            *March 18 Supreme Sacrifice Day
         *March 20 Extraterrestrial Abductions Day          *March 20 Proposal Day  
*March 25 Waffle Day                    *March 27 National “Joe” Day
*March 22 National Goof Off Day                    *March 23 Melba Toast Day
*March 28 Something on a Stick Day                 *March 28 Weed Appreciation Day

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