My thoughts on writing tips found online and in published works (with some random thoughts thrown into the mix).

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Do You Believe in Luck? defines luck as "the force that seems to operate for good or ill in a person's life, as in shaping circumstances, events, or opportunities." defines luck as "a force that brings good fortune or adversity; the events or circumstances that operate for or against an individual." defines luck as "success that you have by chance and not because of anything that you do." defines luck as "success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions."

Except for the Merriam-Webster definition, each source seems to phrase it in such a way that dismisses the concept of luck. emphasizes that luck is a force that seems to operate... Macmillian's phrasing is decidedly negative, not because of.... And Oxford uses the word apparently in such a way that suggests luck is a myth.

Personally, I allow for the idea that luck can influence the smaller things in our lives. Your bag of cereal ripped, making your breakfast fall all over the floor? That is rotten luck! As for the bigger stuff, however, I believe that there is some greater force at work. I am not suggesting that God or Fate has a hand in these matters (though if that is what you believe, more power to you!). I have come to believe that we each have a part in the major things. If I want to be a famous writer some day, I am not going to wait for luck to come around and make it so. I am going to work my butt off towards my goal and, when I achieve it, it will be because of hard work and dedication instead of by chance. Even the big things that seem like luck are a combination of individual choices. The wreck that destroys your rear bumper? It may not have been because of a conscious choice you made, but the combination of choices that you and the other driver made led to that point.

Now, what is your viewpoint on luck? Does it influence your life?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Punctuation and Quotations

One topic that I have come across that seems to trip up a good amount of authors is how to use punctuation with quotation marks. While quotation marks, whether they are single or double quotes, can cause many trip-ups on their own, we will stick to punctuation issues today.

If you are citing the person after the quote, then a comma should appear at the end, before the closing mark.
For example:
"Socks go in the red hamper," said Sarah.

If you are ending a sentence with a quote, then the period goes within the quotation marks.
For example:
Tom lectured Mark, "You should never have dated her in the first place."

With these two rules, commas and periods are always within the quotation marks. For the next two marks, however, the rules get a bit trickier.

If the item being quoted is an exclamation itself, then the mark goes within the quotes. If it is being used as part of an exclamatory sentence, however, it goes outside the quotes.
For example:
Jennifer celebrated her victory, shouting "I passed the class!"
Tiffany thought it was absolutely ridiculous to think that "the stars brought this upon us"!

Question marks behave a lot like exclamation points.
For example:
George questioned the teacher, "Does A really come before B?"
Matthew wondered, did Anne really "love him more than life itself"?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Retire These Words

While reading the Abby Kerr and the Voice Bureau blog the other day, I came across an interesting post. Abby Kerr focuses on helping businesses thrive, by helping the entrepreneur create a clear brand for themselves and giving them advice on how to be seen out there in the big, ever-expanding world. She covers such topics as copywriting, niche identification, content strategy, and SEO optimization. For her post on January 21st, she covered "11 'Branded Buzzwords' We Should Retire in 2013." I thought the advice was worth sharing, so here is my take on the post:

Abby Kerr encourages eliminating words, though allowing exceptions with almost each suggestion.

Some of the words that are marked on the do-not-use list are because they are too general. They don't really convey a meaning, beyond maybe a feeling of an idea. This type of word/phrase includes juicy, soulful, savvy, authentic, and make it pop. If you are tempted to use these words in your writing, whether it be for professional correspondence, your latest manuscript, or in your blog, I agree that you should reconsider. When you want to use one of these words, what are you truly trying to convey to your reader?

For example, pretend you are reviewing an article in a gossip magazine. Instead of saying that it was "juicy," try describing what you really mean. "The article was full of twists and turns that left the reader open-mouthed in shock. What a scandal!" This conveys much more than simply saying that the information was "juicy."

Abby Kerr also covers the use of the word epic. In today's world, it seems that this word is used at every turn. A trip to the store becomes "epic" after a teenager runs into her best friend. A boy makes a basket in a neighborhood basketball game and describes it later as "epic." According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of epic is "extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope" or "a long narrative poem in elevated style recounting the deeds of a legendary or historical hero." It goes on to mention that epic could be used to describe a work of art or a series of events that includes these qualities. Let's go ahead and let this word go back to it's proper usage.

While I am at it, I would also like to consider some other words that should be banished from use in 2013, especially from business perspective:

  • amazing (it's too bland)
  • awesome (again, blah!)
  • viral (this should have left with Y2K)
  • superfood (it sounds like a gimmick)
  • bucket list (it's fallen into the same trap as "epic")
  • literally (see previous post)
  • seriously (especially when used as a question and the answer is obviously "yes")
  • ignorant (another instance where people need to learn the definition)

Do you have anything you would like to add to this list?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

TABAKA Release

On February 1st, the newest EmotoSingle from Grit City Publications, TABAKA, came to life! This horror short story takes on the tale of a woman taken over by a spirit. The spirit, Tabaka, is able to give her everything she has dreamed of...except one thing. Struggling to come to terms with her new life, Sarah Dayer must figure out how to proceed from here.

The official synopsis:
"For years, Sarah Dayer endured physical and mental abuse from a hard-charging drunk of a fiancĂ© in a sleepy Ohio town. In a moment of self-preservation, she made the drastic decision to flee the only life she’d ever known, despite her fiance’s promise to kill her if she ever returned. After reinventing herself as an ER nurse, an unwelcome horror threatens to destroy her new life.

"On her way to work, Sarah witnesses a bloody highway accident. While using her medical skills to assist a young pregnant woman pinned by her malfunctioning seatbelt, an overbearing metaphysical force implants itself in Sarah’s body. What begins as a blessing of irresistible sex appeal and the ability to perform medical miracles soon turns into a struggle of control for Sarah’s very existence.

"In this Emotobook single of self-discovery, fate, and personal sacrifice, TABAKA takes the reader on an emotional journey of impossible mental trials, moral decisions, and honorable heroics."

To check it out for yourself, check out the official page for TABAKA.