Weekend Workshop Sunday Edition

We have reached the last chapter in Everyday Editing by Jeff Anderson. And here is it, the good stuff, dialogue.

-Dialogue moves the narrative along and/or reveals something about a character. (I think I’ve heard that before.) Use a distinctive voice.

-We indent every time a new person speaks. The end punctuation should go inside the quotation mark.

-Dialogue can help us show rather than tell.

-Said is NOT dead. (hrm….)

“Good dialogue encompasses both what is said and not said.” – Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

Writers are selective, they choose to write about what is important and they edit that which does not move the story along.

Anderson makes a long an impassioned arguement in favor of “said”. He firmly believes that “said” fades into the background, it’s a nonentity in the world of dialogue tags but other words that could be substituted for “said” stand out. And you don’t want every tag to stand out. Tags should be utilitarian not art. He suggests dialogue packets- stimulus, internalization, and response, to add detail and movement and possibly leave off the tag altogether.

It’s a good arguement. One I will certainly consider at some point, possibly while I am flying home today.

Weekend Workshop Saturday Edition

Do we have chemistry? No, not me and you. Jeff Anderson from Everyday Editing, is asking about compound sentences in Chapter 9.

-Compound sentences are made when two or more sentences are combined with a comma and a coordinating conjunction. Coordinating conjunctions can be remembered with the mnemonic FANBOYS: for and nor but or yet so. You can skip the coordinating conjunction if you use a semicolon (;).

Further information about the FANBOYS with a myriad of examples from Anderson and things I am currently reading.

For: connects a solution with a problem.

The dark scares us, for we don’t know what is waiting in the dark. – Alvin Schwartz, Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones

And: connects two ideas that go together.

Angeline would reveal no secrets now, and Damiana would reveal no secrets later. -Sharon Shinn, The Safe-Keeper’s Secret

I think that is from a children’s book but I don’t care. I am totally intrigued and will be looking that up in the library.

Nor: negative form of or.

He left and I never saw him again, nor did I regret it. – Dictionary.com example

But: connects two ideas that go against each other.

He tried to stare into her fiery gaze, but he couldn’t stop looking at the purple vein bulging in her forehead. – Brian Meehl, Out of Patience

Or: connects two choices.

Either the killer had been too exhausted to carry the third victim all the way to the water, or he had been spooked by someone approaching and dropped his burden. – Ann Rule, Green River, Running Red

Yet: connects two ideas that go against each other.

The path was dark, yet I slowly found my way. – google search on yet

So: connects a problem with a result.

Ray Bradbury said it best: “Your intuition knows what it wants to write, so get out of the way.” – Chris Baty, No Plot? No Problem!

Like all chemistry, compounding mixes two substances(sentences) for a result which is greater than the starting. Compound away.

Weekend Workshop Sunday Edition

The title of Chapter 8 from Everyday Editing by Jeff Anderson is awesome. “Give me a break.” Yep and I’m taking one right now in St. Kitts.

But Anderson had another topic in mind. Paragraphs.

-Paragraphs help readers and writers chunk information together and separate it as well.

-Paragraphs may have any number of sentences. There is no rule.

-Paragraphs tend to focus on one main idea (unity), and its parts should be related (coherence).

I love this quote by Isaac Babel from Reading Like a Writer. “A new paragraph is a wonderful thing. It lets you quietly change the rhythm, and it can be a flash of lightning that shows the same landscape from a different aspect.”

I have no desire to type entire sections from novels I am currently reading to discuss why they broke things into paragraphs the way they did and I’m guessing you have no desire to read that. So let’s just say toodles here…

Weekend Workshop Saturday Edition

Greetings from the Caribbean. Today I am snorkeling with my hubby and kiddo. Which works because when I saw the title of Chapter Seven from Everyday Editing by Jeff Anderson, I was totally under water. What in the world is an appositive?

-Appositives add information to sentences by renaming nouns. The appositive should be next to the noun it is renaming. Appositives need commas or dashes to offset them from the sentence.

huh? So what is it? I think I need some examples.

Catherine the Great, my Russian grandma, is already awake. – Cari Best, Three Cheers for Catherine the Great!

ohhhhhh. I get it. Appositives relay information pertaining to the noun they apposite. Information is good.

Some further examples from Anderson, using his patented recombination method :

I watched her playing ladushky with Mimmo so he wouldn’t cry.

Ladushky is a clapping song.

The clapping song is Russian.

Combined into: I watched her playing ladushky, a Russian clapping song, with Mimmo so he wouldn’t cry.

The words become more active and the flow tighter by using the appositive. Per Anderson the description an appositive describes sharpens the image, amplifying it with new information and clarifying the meaning for the reader.

Examples from things I am currently reading….

Her mother, Nancy McIntyre, knew that Sand-e was selling herself to make enough money for that, but she couldn’t stop her. – Ann Rule, Green River, Running Red

The event grew larger still-five thousand participants the third year-and I continues to work as both director and participant. – Chris Baty, No Plot? No Problem!

Weekend Workshop Saturday Edition

Apostrophes. Where do you stick it? LOL. No naughty comments from the peanut gallery. Continuing with Everyday Editing from Jeff Anderson, I bring you possession and contraction. Both done with that little ‘ mark.

-An apostrophe (‘) s added to a singular noun shows possession.

-An apostrophe (‘) after the s in a plural word shows possession.

-Apostrophes also show where letters are removed. Words shortened with an apostrophe are called contractions.

Three short rules. Should be easy right?

But take the word it. You know where I am going with this right?

It’s. Contraction for it it.

It’s. Possession. It owns.

Its’. Multiple its own something.

Super simple yeah.

Some examples from Anderson:

-A great scar in the earth’s crust runs for almost 600 miles along the coast of California. Andrew Langley, Hurricanes, Tsunamis, and Other Natural Disasters

-Locals say if you go up to “Jacob’s Hill,” stop on a bridge, put your car in neutral, and turn everything off, your car will roll across the bridge. – Wesley Treat, Heather Shad, and Rob Riggs, Weird Texas

And finally one that combines everything and provides a fun example of specificity.

-Don’t even get me started about my aunt Rose’s Christmas tree. First of all, it’s aluminum. Second of all, it’s pink. I mean, like the color of Pepto-Bismol, which makes sense, because I get sick to my stomach just looking at it. -Neal Shusterman, The Schwa Was Here

Plain version: I don’t like her Christmas tree at all.

Here’s to pink Christmas trees, coming soon to a holiday near you.

Weekend Workshop Sunday Edition

I realize capitalization is pretty easy but it does tie nicely into the idea of specificity in your writing. So for the exercises, let’s a very specific sentence/paragraph and then remove all the specifics.

The Greenes had move to Manteo in November. The weather was fine throughout winter and spring, but when school let out in June, the heat wrapped Roanoke Island in the shroud of perpetual humidity. The only relief came between five and eight o’clock in the morning, when an Atlantic breeze blew in from the Outer Banks. -Roland Smith, Jack’s Run

Without the specifics:

They moved to the town in the fall. The weather was fine for a while, but then it got hot and humid. The only relief came early in the morning and late at night when a breeze came in from the ocean.

What a change. Do you even care about the story anymore? I certainly don’t. Putting that book down and giving it a one ℘ review for the blog.

Weekend Workshop Saturday Edition

I realize this is quite basic, capitalization, but my husband and I went round a few times about how it works in actuality. Jeff Anderson, Everyday Editing, lists it out:

Proper nouns, proper adjectives, titles, first word of a direct quotation, and titles used before a person’s name.

But what makes things specific enough to capitalize? Capitalized words denote specificity. A shift to less specific nouns causes a change in tone and voice.

Anderson provides a great example:

The original: Lucky Trimble crouched in a wedge of shade behind the Dumpster. Her ear near a hole in the paint-chipped wall of Hard Pan’s Found Object Wind Chime Museum and Visitor Center, she listened as Short Sammy told the story of how he hit rock-bottom.

Without specificity: A girl crouched in a wedge of shade behind the thing. Her ear near a hole in the paint-chipped wall of the place, she listened as a man told the story of how he hit rock-bottom.

Lack of specificity definitely changes the feel.

A quick example: oak. It’s a specific kind of tree. Should it be capitalized? No. It’s still a generic type of tree, not a specific oak tree.

Where hubby and I ran into trouble is with things like christening. Should it be capitalized? Turns out not. (I was right. LOL)

As always, exercises tomorrow.

Weekend Workshop Sunday Edition

I love a comment Anderson makes in the colon chapter. “When I imitate other writer’s sentences, trying on their style, I don’t use the same content as the writer. I try their structure or the way they put their sentence together.”

Let’s play with the sentence from Hiaasen yesterday.

_____ told me to empty my _____:______, _______, and ______.

The TSA agent told me to empty my bag: my kindle, my laptop, and a sippy cup of water.

Use the sentence to free write a 100 word short.

The TSA agent told me to empty my bag: my kindle, my laptop, and a sippy cup of water. No wonder I set off the bells and whistles. The agent takes the water over to a special machine which analyses the content. She clears the contents of danger and returned the sippy cup to my kiddo. I apologized profusely for forgetting the water was in the bottom of the bag but the agent was quite tetchy with me. I stepped to the side to wait for my husband who once again was being checked for explosives. Every time he flew. I wondered for the 100th time about the nature of random.

Reexamine your 100 words for where you can add more detail.

The TSA agent told me to empty my bag: my kindle, my laptop, and a sippy cup of water. No wonder I set off the bells and whistles. The agent took the water over to a special machine which analyzed the content. She cleared the contents of danger and returned the sippy cup to my kiddo. I apologized profusely for forgetting the water was in the bottom of the bag but the agent was quite tetchy with me. I stepped to the side to wait for my husband who once again was being checked for explosives. Every time he flew. I wondered for the 100th time about the nature of random.

Eh, I fixed a few tense issues but my brain refuses to find anywhere to add stuff. hrm….

Post your own examples in the comments if you like.

Weekend Workshop Saturday Edition

Colons. Say What?

According to Jeff Anderson in Everyday Editing, colons:

-can introduce lists. (ahhhh)

-colons emphasize to the reader that something important will follow.

-A colon can also introduce a complete sentence.

Don’t confuse the semicolon with the colon. The semicolon is used to join separate sentences we want to join without a coordinating conjunction.

Examples from Anderson.

Reluctantly, one by one, Hugo pulled out dozens of objects: screws and nails and bits of metal, gears and crumpled playing cards, tiny pieces of clockworks, cogs, and wheels. -Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Before I do anything else, I need to go back over everything that has happened this summer: the Big Mistake, the old man, the book, the lamp, the telescope, and this box, which started it all. -Wendy Mass, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life

The deputy told me to empty my pockets: two quarters, a penny, a stick of bubble gum, and a roll of grip tape for my skateboard. -Carl Hiaasen, Flush

A dash can do the same job as a colon. You can use a dash whenever you please, there are not the same rules that surround the colon.

Tune in tomorrow for some exercises surrounding the colon.

Weekend Workshop Sunday Edition

The serial comma. You think you know him, but you don’t. You and Ann Rule, serials lingering in your life. LOL

  1. Find three examples of beautiful serial commas. (I don’t know if they are beautiful but they reflect my current reading.)

There is an odd synchronicity in the way parallel lives veer to touch one another, change direction, and then come close again and again until they connect and hold for whatever it was that fate intended to happen. -Ann Rule, Stranger Beside Me

Rather than running a forgettable self-congratulatory ad about winning the award, Jordin opted to make a stink, throw a fit, define his own high ground, rise above the award, and differentiate his car client from every other Car of the Year recipient forever. – Josh Weltman, Seducing Strangers

They, after all, play by established rules: they arrive at the dive site, bringing fis scraps or other savory dead things for eels; the eel merges from its hole, expecting to be fed; it is fed; it permits itself to be touched and handled; sometimes, if the ritual has been repeated enough times that it has become imprinted as part of the eel’s repertoire, it will hunt for morsels concealed on the diver’s person, slithering in and out of his buoyancy-compensator vest, between his legs, around his neck.  -Peter Benchley, Shark Trouble (wow, isn’t that complicated.)

2. Look at a recent writing, a couple of pages and find a place where you could be more specific. Where you could show where you previously told.

Super rough, from my spy novel:

“I’ve got it.” Stanley shouted with glee. Gareth stirred but declined to get out of his napping chair. Talon yawned. Galatea was the only one on the move instantly to Stanley’s side.
“Where? Where is it?”
“They just passed the Farasan Island Marine Sanctuary.”

***“How soon can we get out there?” Galatea’s excitement was palpable.

***”How soon can we get out there?” Galatea’s voice rose a octave.

“That depends on how you want to get there.” Stanley prevaricated.
“Talon?” Galatea turned to him, some SAS advice would be quite timely.
He nodded. “A flight in, drop with a zodiac(look up the SAS word for this), board the ship in motion?”
“Probably our best chance of getting our hands on the material. A major military presence would probably lead to detonation.”
“Do we care if they detonate on the ship? We could just keep them quarantined until they all died.”
“Would that work?” Everyone turned to look at Stanley. Time for him to live up to his perceived title of inquire within upon all.
“Tentatively I would say yes, however.” He paused and Talon swallowed his irritation.”If just one man gets off that boat infected…”
“So we need to get back control.” Now that the situation was in her part of the world Galatea was very serious.
“Are we going to try to take the warhead off? Or what do we do with this shit when we get our hands on it?”

3. Uncombine the following sentences and then recombine them differently. (From Anderson’s suggestions.)

-I have hair the color of carrots in an apricot glaze, skin fair and clear where it isn’t freckled, and eye like summer storms. – Polly Horvath, Everything on a Waffle

My hair is red, like carrots in apricot glaze.

My skin is fair.

I have freckles.

My eyes are gray.

Recombine: Eyes the color of a Seattle sky adorn pale, clear, and freckled skin, all framed by hair the color of carrots in an apricot glaze.

-A single empty chair waited for Rowanne, and a thought whispered from the back of Hector’s mind, but it was drowned out by the sounds of scraping, shifting chairs. -Lynne Rae Perkins, Criss Cross

An empty chair waited for Rowanne.

Hector was trying to think.

There were many sounds caused by chairs.

Recombine: The many sounds interrupted Hector’s thought process as Rowanne headed for the empty chair.

-The sky is clear blue, a light breeze blows from the west, and pale green water sloshes against the side of the rickety old rowboat that brought us here. -Wendy Mass, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life

The sky is blue.

A west wind blows.

The water is pale green.

The row boat is rickety but got us here.

Recombine: A rickety rowboat transported us through pale green water as the west wind blew against the blue sky.

I’d love to see your example of recent writing with changes if you’d like to post in the comments.