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.