Thursday, May 30, 2013

How to write a book



Today is “Speak in Complete Sentences” day. So, in honor of that, here’s my take on how to write a book.

For years and years I have assured aspiring authors wanting to write a book, first-time authors wanting to write a sequel, and other authors simply wanting to get a backlist out there, that there is only one way to write a book. BICFOK.
Butt In Chair, Fingers On Keyboard.

It doesn’t matter if you write a sentence, a paragraph, a page, or a thousand words. You are that sentence, paragraph, page or thousand words closer to achieving your goal.

Today I read the most amazing article that explains everything so much better than I ever could.
Read it. Absorb it. Follow its advice.
And get that book written!
https://medium.com/thoughts-on-creativity/bad7c34842a2


Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Now you know all the easy grammar rules, here are some hard ones for you





Try And. No, it’s try to. The trying is part of the action so therefore the verb needs to be an infinitive. (try to jump, to walk, etc)

Data is a plural word. So is dice. If you have just one little fact it’s a datum. One little cube with dots on it is a die.

Could care less. This means exactly what it says. You could care less about that person. You could care a whole lot less about them. If you don’t care about them at all, it’s could not care less.

Good and well are not interchangeable. Good is an adjective, but well is an adverb. An adjective modifies a noun but an adverb modifies a verb.
“John did good in the test” is wrong. He did well because did is a verb.
The pasta tastes good. This time good is correct because it describes the pasta and pasta is a noun.

Lay low versus lie low. To lay low is an action, to knock someone down. To lie low is to hide. Your villain might even lie low after being laid low by the hero.

Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Do people read differently today?




Over at The Guardian, there’s a discussion going on about whether or not people read differently today, thanks to such things as TV mini-series.
Mohsin Hamid says readers nowadays expect details and description to be compressed from an epic eight hundred pages into about two hundred pages.
A commenter points out that many “famous” long books, began life as a serial story in a newspaper. In fact, they were originally written in bite-size chunks so today’s readers haven’t changed all that much.
I still like to read long novels for the wealth of characters and detail they offer, but I must confess mostly I read shorter books simply because of the time factor. Long books for me are for vacations. Shorter books are for everyday life.
What do you think?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2013/apr/08/reading-21st-century-mohsin-hamid-fiction

Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Today's Grammar Lesson: Only





Famous grammarian James Kilpatrick wrote a column every year aiming to teach his readers how to use the word “only” correctly.
Here’s my take on it.

The flowers in my garden are green.
Only the flowers in my garden are green: In my garden the trees are purple and the grass is yellow. Only the flowers are green.
The flowers in my garden are only green: No pink or red flowers are in my garden. Just green ones.
The flowers in my only garden are green: I don’t have a garden in front of my house and one behind it. I have just the one garden. With green flowers.

The point of these stories about my garden is that it matters where you put the adverb only. To make sense it has to be as close as possible to the word it modifies or you get an entirely different meaning. Often writers seem to think the sentence flows more smoothly with “only” moved around. That’s fine. Just be sure you haven’t changed the meaning of your sentence by moving it. Clarity and accuracy are more important than eloquence.

This is particularly important in longer sentences as “only” may end up modifying an entire clause, instead of just a word and your whole sentence is then confusing, crazy or meaningless.

Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.



Saturday, May 11, 2013

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Me versus I




Far too many authors get this wrong.

Here’s the rule. Use I when it’s the subject of the sentence, just as you would use he or we.
John and I are going to the swimming pool. This is correct because you would say We are going to the swimming pool.

Use me when it’s the object of the verb just as you would use her, us or them.
The green tree frog smiled at John and me. This is correct because you would say The green tree frog smiled at us.

If you find subjects and objects tricky and would have no idea what I meant if I explained them as nominative (when the pronoun is the subject) and accusative (when the pronoun is the object) case, use this trick.
Take out all the extra words in the sentence and just use the pronoun.
John and I are going to the swimming pool = I am going. You wouldn’t say Me is going. So I is right.
The green tree frog smiled at John and me = It smiled at me. You wouldn’t say It smiled at I. So me is right.

Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.