Thursday, April 28, 2011

Grammatically Yours – Commonly Misused Words Part Two

Happy Thursday!!

After the second list of ten commonly misused words, I will include the words from the first list along with definitions. There was great discussion and comments on the first list. Thank you, everyone, for participating! *smile*

List Two:

Reign, Rein

Whose, Who’s

Allusion, Illusion

Climactic, Climatic

Than, Then

Loose, Lose

Precede, Proceed

Compliment, Complement

Adverse, Averse

Discreet, Discrete

What are your thoughts on the second list? Have you ever had trouble with any of these words? Feel free to define, give examples, or discuss.

Words from List One with Definitions:
(Some of the words have more definitions than what is listed below)

To – Used to indicate movement, direction, proximity, purpose, or intention.
Too – In addition; also; more than enough; excessively.

There – A place; a moment or point.
Their – Possessive form of they. Belonging to; associated with.
They’re – Contraction of they are.

Affect – To influence.
Effect – Something brought about by a cause or agent; a result.

Your – Possessive form of you.
You’re – Contraction of you are.

Illicit – Not sanctioned by custom or law; unlawful.
Elicit – To bring or draw out; educe. To arrive at (a truth, for example) by logic.

Capital – (1) A town or city that is the official seat of government. (2) Wealth in the form of money or property, used or accumulated in a business by a person, partnership, or corporation.
Capitol – (1) A building or complex of buildings in which a state legislature meets. (2) The building in Washington, D.C., where the Congress of the United States meets [Always capitalize Capitol for this usage]

Through – (1) From one end or side to another or an opposite end or side. (2) Among or between; in the midst of. (3) By way of.
Threw – Past tense of throw.
Thorough – (1) Exhaustively complete. (2) painstakingly accurate or careful.
Though – (1) Despite the fact that; although. (2) Conceding or supposing that; even if. (3) However; nevertheless.
Thru – Through [informal]

Accept – (1) To answer affirmatively. (2) To agree to take (a duty or responsibility).
Except – With the exclusion of; other than; but.

Ascent – The act or process of rising or going upward.
Assent – (1) To agree, as to a proposal; concur. (2) Consent.

Breath – (1) The air inhaled and exhaled in respiration. (2) The act or process of breathing. (noun)
Breathe – To inhale and exhale air, especially when naturally and freely. (verb)


Friday, April 22, 2011

Grammatically Yours – Commonly Misused Words Part One

I know this post is a little late. Okay, maybe more than a little late.

Anyway, here is the first installment of Grammatically Yours. If you are unsure what this is, you can read the introductory post here. Basically, Grammatically Yours is a series of posts about anything and everything grammar. Don’t forget that these posts are designed to be interactive. Feel free to give suggestions for future posts, and I will add them to my list.

Writers love words. We love to experiment with them. We love to study them. We move them around and around and around until we are completely satisfied that they communicate what we want them to.

Words tell stories.

They convey emotions.

They cause kingdoms to rise and fall. [I am only partially kidding.]

They can also be misused.

I am not talking about misusing them in a hurtful way (but please don’t do that either). I am talking about misusing them in a grammatical way – something that is actually quite easy to do. Even writers with years and years of experience sometimes use the wrong words.

Below is a partial list of commonly misused words. I will include ten here and ten in a second post.

To, too

There, their, they’re

Affect, effect

Your, you’re

Illicit, elicit

Capital, capitol

Through, threw, thorough, though, thru

Accept, except

Ascent, assent

Breath, breathe

When I post the second list of ten, I will include the definitions of the words in this first list. But for now, I would like some interaction. Have you ever had trouble with any of these words? In your experience, which ones seem to be misused the most? If you would like, define one of these sets of words. Or just comment on whatever you want. *smile*

Always remember that the purpose of these posts is not to nitpick. Everyone will make mistakes. Not long ago I sent a message to someone and wrote “too” when I meant “to.” Or was it “to” when I meant “too”? *head-smack*

It happens to everyone. We just have to be aware of the differences.

Chimichanga Challenge Update: 11,422/40,000

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chimichanga Challenge

Hi y’all!

So I have been a very bad blogger the last couple of weeks. Only two posts during that whole time? Shocking, I know. I am hoping to get back on track this week, and I will blog at least twice every week. Though three times is my goal. Or more, if I get in a ravenous bloggy blog mood.

An update about myself:

Awesome authors Brodi Ashton and Bree Despain have officially begun their Chimichanga Challenge! Why did they name it Chimichanga? Well, I am not completely sure that even they know, but Brodi describes the circumstances of forming the Chimichanga Challenge here. Just think Tamales…

Anyway, Brodi has invited other writers to join in! What exactly is the Chimichanga Challenge?

It is an epic – epic – writing contest.

21 Days

40,000 Words

The Challenge ends May 6, 2011.

Being the lover of challenges that I am, I have launched myself into this writing contest. I can totally write 40,000 words in 21 days. No problem. Am I right?

Am I?

Hmmm….I guess that remains to be seen.

I will keep you all posted on my progress, so get out that virtual whip. (Though I am certain I will not need that particular encouragement. *grin*)

So what is my contest word count so far?


Apparently, all I need now is a team name. Brodi is Team Tamale.

Can any of you think of a cool name for my team? This whole challenge naming system seems to revolve around food, so a cool sounding food name would be perfect.

What is everyone else up to? Are you doing anything to challenge yourself? (Comments do not have to be writing related)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Writing Prompt Time!

Donald Maass is the author of WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL, THE FIRE IN FICTION, and other helpful books for fiction writers. He is also the president of Donald Maass Literary Agency in New York.

For over a month, Don Maass has been tweeting short fiction hints called “Breakout Prompts.” Inspired by the great information he is giving, I have decided to do a series of posts, with each one including one or two of his prompts along with my own thoughts/commentary. If you apply Don Maass’ prompts to your writing, I can guarantee that your novel will greatly improve.

So, without further ado, on the post and the first prompt.

The characters in your novel should be very real to the reader. They need to be multi-dimensional. They need to be multi-layered. Readers must be able to relate to your characters. Your characters should not be perfect, just as we as human beings are not perfect.

Prompt #1: “What’s the worst thing your MC [main character] does? Whom and how does that hurt? Now work backwards, set it up to hurt even more.” #Maass

Think about your own life experiences. Have you ever done something (knowingly or unknowingly) that really hurt another? Has anyone hurt you? Think of the emotions, the feelings, and the rationalizations that accompanied that experience.

Put all of that into your MC and into whoever was hurt by the MC’s actions. Pour the emotion into that scene (or series of scenes). Make it real. Make your readers feel everything with raw intensity.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Don't Do These Things In A Query. Please Don't.

So Friday, I did a very tongue-in-cheek April Fool’s Day post with an absolutely outlandish sample query letter. If you need to refresh your memory, click here.

Today, I would like to rip apart said query letter and address some of the cardinal sins committed therein.

Here are some of the biggies:

1. Address the query personally to the agent. As in “Dear Ms. (name)” or “Dear Mr. (name).” Do not say “Dear Agent,” Dear Agency,” “Hey you,” or “Yo.” Don’t do it.

2. Do not simultaneously send the query to every agent in the industry. There are several reasons why you should not do this, but I am going to address just one of them. If the query you sent was not very strong, you have just exhausted your list of agents. You have “burned your bridges.” Query in small batches of perhaps 5-10 and see what the response is. This will give you the opportunity to tweak your query (and manuscript) as needed.

3. Do not claim that you will be the next bestseller. That is presumptuous, and it makes you sound arrogant. Do not come across as ‘entitled.’

4. Do NOT slam published authors. Published authors are amazing people. They have perfected their craft to the point that it is now ready to be enjoyed and loved by the public. Learn from them. Don’t mock or put them down.

5. Keep your summary to 250 words or less. Be short and to the point. This summary is simply a teaser to get an agent interested in your work. Do not tell how the novel ends. Focus on the main plot line - the protagonist, what the protagonist wants, the stakes, the choice, etc.

6. Do not refer to your novel as a “fiction novel.” Every novel is a work of fiction. You are being redundant and immediately making yourself look bad.

7. Watch your word count. No agent is going to be interested in a 300,000-word novel especially if said novel was written by a debut writer who has not proven himself/herself in the writing community or in the eyes of the public.

8. Do not send attachments. In fact, do not send anything besides the query unless otherwise specified in the individual agent’s submission guidelines. If an agent requests sample pages, they will most likely want those pages pasted in the body of the email along with the query.

9. Do not ever tell an agent when you “expect to hear from them.” If an agent is interested, he/she will contact you within the time period specified in the submission guidelines.

10. Finally, this line is just wrong on every level: “It would be in your interest to work for me.” Never ever say this. Don’t even think it.

We could tear this query apart even more, but I will stop with these ten. Now it’s your turn. What are some other things that you should NOT do in a query?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Writing Hint #13 - Balbo and Queries and Fun, Oh My!

Balbo Ohanzee: *clears throat*

Me: Oh no. I thought I had actually gotten rid of you.

Balbo Ohanzee: Never. I have been watching your posts closely and have remained silent, even when I felt I should speak up. But as the voice of reason on this blog, I –

Me: Enough. Why are you here?

Balbo Ohanzee: To keep you from doing something stupid. You are about to give out questionable –

Me: *blinks* What are you talking about? Hey, stay out of my head! I had fun writing this post!

Balbo Ohanzee: I wouldn’t do this if I were you…

Me: Whatever.

On to my post…

There are so many people who want to know how to write a good query. I thought I would provide a sample here for your reading convenience:

Dear Literary Agent:

I got your name from an online list of agents. I am simultaneously sending this query to all the agents on that list. So if I were you,  I wouldn’t wait around on that offer of representation.

Anyway, I have written a novel that is sure to be the next bestseller. Really. Oh, you don’t believe me? Just you wait. This novel will make all the rest of that drivel out there look like the low-brow, ridiculous stuff it really is. Those published authors know nothing about writing. My work would blow theirs out of the water.

[Insert 2,000 word novel summary here. Be thorough. Tell the ending. Leave nothing unexamined. Be sure to outline even the smallest subplot.]

SUPER-DE-DUPER BESTSELLER, a contemporary fiction novel with a twist of fantasy, is complete at 300,000 words. I have attached the entire manuscript to this email. I expect to hear from you with that offer of representation within the next seven days. Remember, this query has gone out to every agent I could find. You better act fast. It would be in your interest to work for me.


Mistress of the New York Times Bestseller List

There you have it! A query that will have agents lined up on call-waiting wanting to offer you representation…..

Balbo Ohanzee: *muttering* I told you not to do that.

Me: *having too much fun* I would so do that again….

Do I even have to say April Fool’s? *grin*

If you really sent in a query like the one above, you would be rejected so fast that your head would spin right off your shoulders. If you would like to know how to write an actual query, always listen to the professionals – particularly the agents reading your query. See this post for links to some websites that will tell you the “do’s” and “don’ts” in detail.

Happy Querying!