Fragmented Sentence Fragments

Sentences can be complex things or simple things. It depends on what there is to say. Believe it or not, a sentence can go awry. It can become fragmented, broken, miss-punctuated, run on and more.

So what is a basic complete sentence?

Well there are three components required to complete a full sentence. It must express a complete thought so we know what the sentence is about. The sentence must have action in the form of a verb. A sentence must have a subject. A sentence must have a thing or object that the sentence is about.

That is the basic sentence. They can also contain several objects, Adjectives or adverbs and dependent clauses.

I have recently come to terms with the fact I often fragment my sentences. When I write quickly, I get excited and type too fast. This causes the technical aspects of writing fall to the wayside. Like all the time.

Editing and revision always help find and fix these little blunders.

So what exactly is a sentence fragment? Most word programs will underline said fragmented sentence with a blue line but often there is no explanation or suggested solution. It simply says Fragment (Consider reversing).

A sentence is a group of words where the first starts with a capitol and the last is followed by a period. If the sentence is fragmented, it looks like a sentence but is grammatically correct. All the words should work together or join with another sentence to make it complete.

How does one define a sentence fragment?

A sentence fragment does not express a complete thought.

Example:

1. Amber is.  (The thought is missing. What is she?)

Correction: Amber is bored.

2. Blowing Bubbles. (The subject is missing. Who or what is blowing bubbles?)

Correction: Amber is blowing bubbles.

3. A red rose. (The action is missing. What about it? Is the rose doing something? Does it smell? Was picked? What is that rose doing? Or what is someone doing with it?)

Correction: Amber smells a red rose.

4. And she stopped at the park. (‘and’ is a dependent clause. It needs to be attached to an independent clause.)

Correction:  Amber went for a walk and stopped at the park.

5. Since she hates celery. (I’m messing with the clauses again… oops. Since is like and, and needs an independent clause.)

Correction: Amber won’t eat the crisp greens since she hates celery.

Each sentence was corrected by adding a verb, a subject, completing the thought or joining the dependent clause with an independent clause.

One more example:

6.  Rachael often working late on Friday nights. Because she has too much work and tasks to complete.

Ugh gross. There are two easy ways to fix this.

Join sentences.

Rachael often works late Friday nights, because she has too much work and too many tasks to complete.

Complete each fragmented sentence.

Rachael often works late on Friday nights. There is too much work and too many tasks to complete.

I find that most of these are found during editing and revision. If not by eye then when I read them aloud to myself. Fragmented sentences often don’t sound right.

My advice about fragmented sentences.
(Yes, I know ‘My advice about fragmented sentences.’ is a fragmented sentence. Therefore, I suppose it should read… Here is my advice about fragmented sentences. There.

-Sheryl

Other posts

How did that sound?

A chance moment

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

 

Crisp

Those Dependent Clauses

What oh what do I do with sentences that can’t stand-alone? I’m talking about Dependent clauses. What is a dependent clause? It is a group of words with a verb (Conveys action) and a subject. Unlike Independent clauses that can stand on their own, dependent clauses don’t express a complete thought and therefore they’re not a complete sentence. They must be joined to another clause to avoid making a sentence fragment.

Dependent clauses are often indicated by the presence of words such as; because, before, after, although, since, whenever, though, even if, while, even though, whenever, wherever. They often contain conjunction words such as; Nor, yet, but, and, or.

Example:

Because I lost my umbrella.

Because? Why? What? This is a sentence fragment if it doesn’t have a clause explaining what happened.  So it should be joined with a clause explaining or justifying the ‘because’.

Because I lost my umbrella, I got wet from the rain.

‘I got wet from the rain’ is an independent clause. Joining a dependent clause with an independent clause assures thought is expressed and it is now a sentence.

Dependent clauses can become more complex if we add subjects, objects, and modifying phrases:

Dale, who likes eating salty snacks, ate some potato chips.

Dale is the subject. ‘Who likes eating salty snacks’ is a dependent clause that modifies Dale. It contains ‘likes’ and ‘ate’ which are verbs. The potato chips are the object.

There are three types of Dependent clauses. Noun, adverb and adjective.

Noun –  They describe a thing or a person. Such as; living creatures, objects, places, actions, qualities, states of existence, or ideas.
Adjective –  They a describe noun such as; good, big, blue and fascinating.
Adverb – They describe a verb, adjective or adverb. Such as; quickly, silently, well, badly, very, really. (Don’t forget, a lot of filter words are adverbs)

Dependent Adverb Clauses

Adverb clauses will modify verbs and begin with subordinating conjunctions (join clauses, sentences or words. Like these; and, but, when.)

  • When the baby arrives
  • Because I can’t wait for the train
  • Since you don’t have enough time
  • Whenever you go to play
  • As if she knew what was going to happen
  • Until the tide turns
  • While children continue to learn
  • Supposing that he really wanted to stay
  • Before the cheese gets moldy
  • Although I never tried it
  • Unless I have the right combination
  • How he got the job
  • As the cars were moving
  • If you can rest on Sunday
  • No matter how you look at it
  • Than his friend can

Dependent Adjective Clauses

Adjective clauses modify nouns and often begin with a pronoun, (They replace a noun with words such as; I, you, he, she and some.) and sometimes with a subordinating conjunction.

  • That I gave him
  • Why the cake was terrible
  • Who is dumb
  • That was a deal
  • When the flowers bloom and grow
  • Which is located downstairs
  • Where I went to play basketball
  • Whom we met before the party
  • Who live by the office
  • Whose singing is always amazing


Dependent Noun Clauses

Noun clauses can act as a noun and name a place, person, thing or idea.

  • How he would get there
  • Why she did that
  • That you are talking
  • Whomever I like
  • If the ice-cream is on sale
  • Whoever stands in line
  • Who let the rooster in the henhouse
  • What he expected
  • Whether he can drink that much
  • Whatever makes you comfortable

Dependent Clauses In Sentences

These highlighted dependent clauses could easily be found accidentally on their own pretending to be sentences.

  • What Amber did.
  • After hours of revision.
  • While Scott was at work.
  • Why Scott said that.
  • Whatever is necessary.
  • That was in my desk?
  • Nobody wanted to drink it.
  • That you took.
  • Whenever I go to the movies.
  • Where I was hired.
  • Whom I have for Math.
  • Since nobody offered.
  • Whereas Dale has only one.
  • If you can explain why.
  • Until the bar closes.
  •  Whoever has the better layout.

Corrected Dependent Clauses

  • What Amber did was not very smart.
  • Dale finally finished his project, after hours of revision.
  • While Scott was at work, the neighbour’s dog peed on his door.
  • Amber can’t figure out why Scott said that.
  • Scott will do whatever is necessary.
  • “Where is the natty purple inked pen that was in my desk?
  • After Scott coughed on the coffee pot, nobody wanted to drink it.
  • That set of car keys that you took belong to Dale.
  • Whenever I go to the movies, I will sit in the middle.
  • The place where I was hired is on Main street.
  • The teacher, whom I have for Math, is a total jerk.
  • Since nobody offered, Dale didn’t get any cake.
  • Scott has two lovers, whereas Dale has only one.
  • If you can explain why, you can borrow the car.
  • You may drink beer until the bar closes.
  • The job goes to whoever has the better layout.

My advice about dependent clauses.
They are usually found during editing and revising. When read aloud they sound unusual or incomplete. They are easy to fix and when they are, it makes for easier reading.

-Sheryl

Other interesting posts.

Well colour me silly

Talking to myself

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

My Posts From The Start

 Natty

Independent Clauses depend on nobody.

I love my independence. As a grown up, I can do whatever I want to do. Individually I am a complete person. Sentences are made up of parts. I have been sharing my exploration of the parts of speech and sentences.

Necessary parts of sentences are clauses. Specifically I’m talking about independent clauses. One independent clause can be it’s own complete sentence. However using a dependent clause can make an independent one more interesting. With proper punctuation the two can be joined together to create compound sentences that are more interesting. What does this mean as a writer? It means by making sentences more complex and engaging the reader will enjoy what I’ve written more than, if it were all simple stand-alone sentences.

For example, I’m good on my own as I’m a complete person. However, I’m more interesting if I’m holding something fun or doing something exciting.

Independent clauses contain three components: A subject, Action and they express a complete thought(Something happened)

They can be as simple as only a verb and a subject

Amber bakes.

Since the reader knows amber bakes, a complete thought is expressed.

Two Independent clauses can be joined if they are related. It is imperative to use proper punctuation to bring them together.

Amber nibbled a fresh cookie; she really enjoyed baking.

Both clauses are independent. I’ll start with the first clause. Amber is the subject, nibbled is the action and cookie is the object. In the second clause she is the subject, enjoyed is the action and baking is the object. Both can stand-alone but since they are related, a semi-colon joins them making this a complex sentence.

If I were to join the two with a comma, it would look like this:

Amber nibbled a fresh cookie, she really enjoyed baking.

Because they are two independent clauses, joining them with a comma is called a ‘comma splice’ or spell check will yell at me to ‘consider reversing’. Yes, I do this when I write. I can usually find these bad boys during revision.

Examples of Independent Clauses

  • Amber enjoys sitting and watching movies.
  • Dale wants to go to the play.
  • Scott never comes to work prepared.
  • Amber and Dale agreed the forest hike fun.
  • Amber really wanted Earl grey tea.
  • Dale can hardly wait to go to his family dinner.
  • Dale and Amber want to keep their secret from work.
  • Scott’s behaviour toward Amber is scary.

Examples of Independent Clauses Joined Together by a comma 

  • Amber enjoys sitting and watching movies, but she thinks the books are better.
  • Dale wants to go to the play, for Amber won free tickets.
  • Scott never comes to work prepared, as he forgets his lunch often.
  • Amber and Dale agreed a forest hike is fun, but the beach is better.
  • Amber really wanted Earl grey tea, but they only had Orange Pekoe and Green.
  • Dale can hardly wait to go to his family dinner, but Amber was nervous about meeting his parents.
  • Dale and Amber want to keep their secret from work, but someone guessed she is pregnant.
  • Scott’s behaviour toward Amber is scary, but she doesn’t know she’s in danger.

Sentences with two independent clauses joined by semicolons

  • Amber went to the dentist; she got her teeth cleaned.
  • During their date, Dale noticed Scott spying; they went home.
  • Scott brought the beer; Dale brought the chips and dip.
  • Amber was happy; she had pickles and peanut butter.
  • Scott is going to the bar; he intends to stay there until it closes.
  • It rained at the park; Amber still enjoyed that portion of her walk.
  • Amber prefers to use a car-wash; Dale washes by hand.

My advice about Independent Clauses.
Two joined Independent clauses are a great way to spice up your prose. Make sure they are indeed two independent clauses and that the punctuation is correct. 

-Sheryl

Other grammar posts

It’s not, not negative

There is so much more

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

My Posts From The Start

 Portion

That Was Random

In my last post, I mentioned a run in with a man who was so abrupt and rude it almost threw me for a loop. I maintained my composure, but it got me thinking.

I tucked him and his behavior away for a potential character and I couldn’t stop thinking about him. His outburst was random, and in my opinion unprovoked. However, if I look closer his behavior was probably normal or at least justified in his opinion. So why was this so important?

Characters.  

Character building is not just about what happens to a main character throughout a story but how to build one before putting any of them in. I’ve mentioned before that I like to give every character, minor or major, a history. I give them a past that determines how they are now. A back-story. 

Writing a random run in with a random person in a book can be tricky. If it has nothing to do with the story or the protagonist’s journey then it will be superfluous. However making it meaningful is just as tricky. If it’s blatantly obvious then the reader won’t appreciate it. If however I can make it part of the story and meaningful while keeping it totally random then all the better.  

My example is loosely based off another run-in with a man this weekend at the local farmers market. 

Amber checked her watch and took a deep breath. Ten minutes in line for the store to open. It took forever to figure out a birthday present for Dale and this store advertised they were getting the newest fit-bit in stock a week before the others.

The doors opened and she stepped forward. There were seven people ahead of her. She knew this because she counted them at least a hundred times out of boredom. As she got to the entrance a man in a Tommy Hilfiger jacket stepped in front of her.

“Hey.” She called out to the man. “Get in line dude.”

He turned and smirked at her with his beady brown eyes and graying stubble covered chin. 

“I am in line and I’m in a hurry.” He turned his back to her without a trace of remorse or anything resembling human decency. 

With fists at her side, she pressed forward. She went right to the counter and the man was just handing out the boxes to everyone as they approached.  She took hers, went to the accessory wall, and found the one she was looking for. She reached out for the last blue zipper accessory so dale would have options and a hand snatched it before she could.

She looked to see Hilfiger jacket man laugh and walk away. Normally she would scream and make a scene outing the jackass for what he is. 

“Karma will get him.” Amber muttered and took the dark green zipper accessory. She was buying a gift for Dale the least she could do was follow his mantra.

Karma had been more than a bitch to her so she knew damned well that you get what you put out. Pursing her lips, she headed for the checkout. There were two open and she got in line. If she was lucky, she could get to work on time. She inched forward until she was next.

“Next.” The cashier called out. 

Before she could approach, Hilfiger Jacket man stepped around her and took her turn. 

“Oh you smarmy little shit.” Amber uttered under her breath. “Karma, karma, karma…” She whispered as she got to the other cashier.

Luck was still on her side as she got to her desk before Valery strolled up.

“Good morning Amber, you look better today.”

“Thanks. I feel better.”

“I need to ask you a favor.” Valery smiled kindly. She approved of Amber’s new persona. She was working hard to make up for her selfish ways. It wasn’t a secret that she was pregnant. A single woman with no talk of a boyfriend, it was no wonder her stress was so high. 

“Sure boss.” Amber smiled back. “What can I do?”

“There’s a man in my office for an interview. I double booked and I have a man in Clifton’s office. Can you take the one in Clifton’s?” Valery asked and held out the interview questions. 

“Sure.” Amber jumped up and took the question sheets as Dale peeked around his cubicle and tried not to grin. 

“Be brutal they’re applying for the new assistant position and will be working directly under you.”

Amber nodded as Valery walked away. She gave a giddy squeal as Dale gave her double thumbs up. 

“You’re right about Karma Dale. I could have been a total bitch to some ass-hat this morning, but I let him be a miserable jerk and minded my business.”

“And now you’re getting an assistant. Go.” Dale waved her off and she went to Clifton’s office quickly. 

Amber opened the door and walked in to sit in Clifton’s chair. “Good morning Mr…” She glanced at the sheet. “Kyle Travis.”

The man stood and held out his hand to shake. His face paled as she smiled. Mr. Hilfiger jacket recognized her from earlier. 

Amber shook his hand. “Let’s get started shall we?” She sat as sweat beaded on Kyle’s forehead and he took his seat.

The original run in was a man who kept budding in front of my husband and I as we waited our turn at the market. It was very frustrating. Now I didn’t give him an interview, but he was so random and owned his rudeness that he made for great character fodder. Tucking these random run-in’s away for reference later, is key to good writing in my opinion. I take from what I experience and embellish, twist and maneuver it to fit into my story in a random and fun way. 

For Amber her journey is about becoming a decent human being. What she does now that she has this man by the proverbial short hairs will determine how far she’s come. It was nice to have her not pop off and take the high road. 

My advice about random run-in’s.
Write them down for future use. Inspiration comes from life and there is no better inspiration than a total jackass who gives you a great template to work with.

-Sheryl

Related posts

People Watching

Individual Arcs

Round vs. flat

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Trace

Link It And List It!

There is something I’ve been wanting to bring up about writing. It has nothing to do specifically with writing a manuscript, novel or book. But about how chapter stories are posted on blogs. How does a successful blogger keep readers coming back? I haven’t posted a chapter story on my blog yet, but have been thinking about it. So I’ve done some research, taken a blogging course from WordPress and done some digging through other bloggers’ stories to see what they’ve been doing to keep the readers returning.

I love reading serial and Chapter stories on blogs. There are some out there that have hit it on the nose as far as organization goes. I figure not everyone is aware of some simple tricks that can keep a reader reading and help them navigate your story with as little frustration as possible.(I wasn’t)

The following have been observed on a few blogs I follow and I think they are great ways to keep a story organized for your long-term followers and for new friends that stumble into your blog space.  (These are suggestions, not rules.)

Each Chapter would ideally get their own blog post. You can include a picture or just a standard title all the tricks you need to post and edit blogs can be found here:  http://learn.wordpress.com/

The blue arrow is pointing to the icon to click on to add content or a picture into the body of the post. The purple is what you select to add a featured image or the post’s image(What shows up in the feed or reader)

aa add picture

First, post a chapter or two of your story by creating separate posts.  Now you’re ready to make it easier for a reader to navigate your stories. This is very important if you have other posts in-between or if you don’t post regularly.

So in each chapter, you can do one or two things to make this easy. One add a “Start from the beginning” and link the first chapter or you can link(I will explain how in a moment) this to a Story Chapter Page (I will explain this shortly)

And/or at the end of each chapter, you can put a link to the next chapter of the story(See orange arrows below). This allows for continuous flow through your chapters so the reader doesn’t have to jump around. To add this one you have to wait until the next chapter is posted and physically go back to the previous chapter and add this to the body. (Note this link will appear as a pingback and you need to approve it in your comments)

aa story links.jpg

To Add links to the body of the post:  you can write the text and highlight it or you can create it during the link in the link options(C).

Red A – click this to open the URL-link creator
Red B – This is the URL that will link. This will fill in automatically when you select Red D
Red C – This is the link text. You can fill this in manually or if you highlighted text before clicking ‘link’ that highlighted text will become the clickable link on the page.

AAA ADD LINKS.jpg

To add a page link and not a post link copy and paste the URL into the URL line(Red B)  you can get this by opening the page and copying it from there. I found it easier to open the page in a private window or “incognito window”. Once I’ve added the link(which I would recommend testing) I like to make the link Bold and change the color to make it obvious. Many other bloggers do this to make them stand out. The default is an underline and light blue which doesn’t stand out when posted.  The bold option is shown below by the orange arrow and the option to change the color of the text is indicated by the blue arrow below.

aa colour

Okay so now we can add links to the post. How about creating a “Story Chapter Page”?  This is a page for the story with each chapter listed and links to each(That you can easily add with the link button now) So your reader can now come to this page to continue on where they left off instead of being adrift, lost in a sea of posts.

To add a new page to your blog. This will appear in your blog banner. From your main menu screen click “ADD” beside pages.

aa adding a page

This next example shows that a new page will come up for you to create a new page for your blog.

aa new page

Enter the title of your story and any information you want in the introduction
Then make a chapter list so you can add links to each chapter. This page is the page you will link to at the beginning of the story if you want to have a link to the chapter page as I mentioned above.

1 in yellow shows chapter one with a link (Bolded and color changed)
2 in yellow shows a chapter title highlighted and ready for a link to be added
3 in yellow is a chapter not yet posted. I’ve seen one blogger add “coming soon” to add anticipation for upcoming chapters.

aa chapter links on page.jpg

So now each post has a link to the Story Chapter Page dedicated to the story with a clickable linked list to each chapter. AND each chapter has a clickable link at the end of the chapter to bring the reader to the next chapter automatically(Done after the following post is posted by going back to the previous already posted blog and adding the “next chapter” link)

This isn’t necessary but I find it makes it a whole lot easier when you want to binge read a bloggers story easily without having to fish through their posts to find the next one.

Yes, this is extra work, but a happy reader is a repeat reader.

Here are some examples of Fantastic blogs that have agreed to let me use their pages as examples for how linking stories or chapters in a list on a separate blog page can help a reader. I couldn’t include everyone I love following, some said no and others don’t have the specific page-link formats I’m looking to use as examples. Because chapter stories are best started from the start these bloggers clued in and made it easy to find the start.

CLICK ON THE BOLDED NAME TO SEE THE PAGE EXAMPLE
(Don’t forget to look around they have some fantastic stories)

Lost Property – Serials Super fun stories, both short and long that are deep and captivating.  The link I have here goes to a list of short stories that are easy to navigate. I have been reading these stories and the chapter stories in the daily prompt and have enjoyed them immensely.

Devil Doll Musings – Short chapter, chapter stories that are imaginative and captivating. A little on the naughty side but a wild ride. Poke around on this website to see how fantastically it’s laid out. This link is to Rock Star a whirlwind romance worth reading. The chapters are listed in link form and it’s easy to follow. At the bottom, this blogger uses “continues HERE” to make it easy to keep reading.

WriteMeBad – Romantic and smutty stories that are so beautifully written they captivated me instantly. Each story has their own page and chapter listed from top to bottom. (First to last) I started you off with the link to the first story Jay & Dee that made me an instant fan.

All in all ,I enjoy the effort and creativity that I keep coming across on different pages. If you have a trick or technique you use that you want me to blog about(Relevant to writing advice please) Please either private message me or leave it in the comments below. I hope I didn’t miss anything. This was a fairly long post. (Sorry)

I don’t have a chapter story to try this on, but I did create a page using all the tips above to create a click-able link to every post I’ve posted (Minus award posts). I don’t expect anyone to actually use it but it’s there in case someone does. Oh and I’ll make sure to update it regularly. My Posts From The Start

My advice about creating chapter links in a post and separate Story Chapter Pages.
It’s never too late to go back and add them. Once you get the hang of it (I tested this on a non-published page) It’s actually easy. Tedious? Maybe but is it worth it? I think so. It would definitely be easier if done from the start.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

 Adrift
Organize

Stories Classified

I have written a few novels, a couple Novella’s and a handful of short stories. It occurred to me that not everyone might know what that means. 

There are five classification of Stories. (Technically four, but I think Flash fiction deserves its own classification.)

The Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story and Flash fiction.

So what is the difference?

Flash fiction is 1000 words or under. Flash fiction technically fall under the category of short story as they are often called short-short stories. They usually focus on one singular incident or event and have three characters or less. Too many are hard to keep track of in such a short time. These stories tend to skip or give a brief synopsis of the ‘beginning’ of the story and jump right to the middle. Because of the compact ‘one bite’ nature of Flash fiction, they are somewhat difficult to write well. Flash fiction do not commonly have chapters as they are written to be read in a single sitting. 

A Short Story is Under 7,500 words. There is some debate on the actual number some say 1000-4000. The guidelines have varied over time. Short stories generally follow the classic story arc but tend to be less complicated than a novel and more complicated than Flash fiction. They focus on one main event, one plot and generally one setting.   Short stories are difficult to market for profit on their own and are often found published or presented as collections to increase their marketability.  Short stories most often do not have chapters. Instead they may have white space breaks as they are meant to be read in one sitting.

A novelette is 7,500 to 17,499 words.  Novelette’s are similar to a Short story in nearly every way, but with more room to improve on characters, prose and exposition. The word count of a novelette is more popular for writers and often focused in competitions and awards. These are often marketed on their own or can be found in small collections.  Like Short stories Novelettes do not typically have chapters and generally use white space breaks. (Not a rule) 

A Novella is 17,500 to 39,999 words. Like the smaller versions of a short story and a Novelette, Novella’s don’t always have chapters. There is no rule to have chapters or not, but a book less than 40,000 words is considered a ‘single sitting’ book. Novellas are more complicated in prose, characters and exposition. They remain simple and generally focus on one plot, few characters and limited settings.  A sub-plot or side story may occur however, it isn’t as common due to the restricted amount of words they would require. Novellas are found published on their own and in compilations.

A Novel is 40,000 words or more.  Novel’s focus more on a larger story arc involving multiple complicated characters, a grand lesson or journey, sub plots and arc’s. Novels often focus on a more intimate experience with the characters and story. They are broken down to chapters and meant to be read in multiple sittings. (Though I’ll admit to reading more than a few in one sitting.)

Basically, all categories of Stories are a challenge to write and wonderful to read. Believing any category is better than the other is a farce. They each have their own challenges and depending on the writer, one may be easier to conquer than the other. I’ve been dabbling in the various categories, I can manage (Barely) flash fiction, short story (Sort of), novella (Not bad) and Novels I have no problem with. For some reason I can’t seem to hit a story in the Novelette word count. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I’m wordy and I do struggle to write short stories and flash fiction. 

My advice about the story classifications.
It’s good to expand and gain writing experience/practice. I recommend trying to write all classifications. Who knows maybe you’ll find a passion for something new. There are all kinds of WordPress challenges to participate in. There are contests etc. for each classification have fun and see what’s out there.

-Sheryl

Other posts about word counts

It’s really very unnecessary

I’m ‘that’ kind of writer

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

Farce

Re-assessing The Value

A while ago I read something that really stuck with me. I can’t for the life of me remember where I read it so I’m paraphrasing instead of quoting. It was in regards to Literary agent rejections. It went something like this;

“But you didn’t even read the whole thing. You only read the first 50 pages. It’ gets really good in chapter eight.”
The advice: “Then start the book in chapter five.”

As a writer I know how difficult it is to hear that maybe, just maybe some fat needs to be trimmed. For months now this advice has been rattling around in my brain as I worked on other projects. So I asked a couple of people who’ve read my book and I was surprised to hear that the first chapter was awesome, but it got slow until about chapter…. wait for it… chapter five. Huh.

I thought I was done, that it was perfect.(Well I know there is always room for improvement)

Now I’m not about to axe it all. Because there is some character building and significant foreshadowing going on in chapters 2 through 5. But. And that is a big huge ‘But’, what if I can trim it down? I started thinking and pondering the “What if I did?” and “Can I?” and most importantly “How?”

The answer to the can I is yes. Why not? The how is easy, just give it a try. So I took a copy of my book and saved it as “Rewrite”. I pulled out my proverbial axe and really started to question what was filler and what was necessary.

Another quote/advice I got (I can’t supply the source for) said; “Make each word count.”  I know I’m wordy, and I work to keep myself in check.

I decided to set my ego aside and take a good strong objective look at the content of each sentence, the necessity of each paragraph. But guess what I found? Filler. Lots of it. Not only filler, but I found repetition. I was saying the same thing over only differently to hammer home a concept/idea/description. I pursed my lips and re-read it. Did I really? Yes I did.

Now this is a big step for me. Something I thought I already conquered. I opened my mind to the possibility that less is more and started re-thinking things. What is necessary to the story and what is not? I was surprised to realize that with one or two small changes, the story would become more streamline. More pleasant to read. Now, I have gotten rave reviews from those that previewed it and I’m not taking anything important away nor the charm of the story. I know what they liked about it and that will stay.

As I work through it all, I’ve taken out my handy-dandy calendar of events and my charts and bio’s of the characters and started changing things. I was pleasantly surprised to discover I was able to take out a lot by changing a little and I did not compromise the story at all.

I talked it over with someone who read the story and he gave me his summary. What he skipped I examined closely. Then after thinking about it I asked what he thought if I removed a few aspects and he said; “That part was good but hard to read, so yeah it would be better without.” At this point I was ready for the criticism and instead of feeling bad or like a failure, I realized there was opportunity to improve.

In two days I took out over 6700 words. If you know my word-count struggle, this is epic. The best advice I got was, if you can keep the word-count closer to the minimum vs. the maximum allowable word count for a genre, then a Literary Agent is more likely to look at it.

I’m not second guessing my work or myself. What I’m doing, after months of contemplation, advice and feedback, is re-assessing the value of the ‘boring parts’ or the filler and repetitious clutter.

This was my first of many books written. I’d be a fool to think it’s perfect, but it will be. I’ve had a lot of time to hone my skills and learn a lot more about writing since completing BiaAtlas. I’m excited to say it’s starting to look better, the story is moving faster and there is less unnecessary filler clogging up the works.  It can be daunting to write a story, let alone rewrite it completely. I’m approaching this logically, whit a plan and a level of excitement that is pushing me forward. I’m amazed at how fun it is to take something I worked hard on and give it a literary make over.

My advice about starting where it gets good.
Don’t shun the idea, don’t stress about cutting things out. Take the time to rearrange and try a new approach. If you don’t like it you still have the original. 

-Sheryl

Other related posts

Word swap

The ups and downs of writing

TMI dude!

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Maze

Unspoken Dialogue

I write in the present day/somewhat future. Technology plays a part of our everyday no matter what we do. Computers, cellphones and anything else you can think of. I talk a lot about dialogue. What about unspoken dialogue? By that, I mean in the form of Text messages and emails or even a hand written note or letter (Yes people still do this).

Once I’ve established your dialogue style, I stick with it. I personally always use “Double” quotations with curly ends (Unless my blog changes it for some reason). Keep this in mind for my how-to-text-in-a-story examples.

I have read numerous books with both texting and emails in them. The presentation or content is obviously up to the writer. I would caution with over doing it however. Too much is a total turn off. A very popular (Though I don’t know why) book series I read had a lot of back and forth emails going on. With every single email, the author included the formal intro, message and the full and complete signature.  The signature was altered each time and was meant to be cute, but after the third one I got bored/annoyed and hated reading them. I do believe there was a significant amount of eye rolling going on.

If you are pursuing professional or traditional publishing, they will have a set standard to which they want this type of text displayed. Don’t worry about it, as long as you keep it clear and as close to what they are looking for.

Here are the rules I personally follow when writing a text or email in a story. I’m sure I’ll miss a few, feel free to let me know what yours might be.

Make sure the dialogue stands out from regular text. (Quotation marks)
Use this in place of something happening – the ‘review’ type dialogue
Keep the font size of the text the same as the regular text. 12pt is industry standard.
Keep the text from blending into the narrative
Avoid being overly repetitive (Don’t forget dialogue/conversation counts rambling sucks)
Use Italics
Treat it like dialogue
Identify the sender of the message
Use the alternate quotation marks for texts (I’ll couple this with italic)
Indent from regular text(I don’t always bother it’s not necessary)
Dialogue tags and proper lead ups to identify the text/email

Alternate fonts can be used. However, the industry standard (North America) is Garamond or Times New Roman. Alternate fonts may stand out but may not be the best choice. (Publishers will decide ultimately anyway)
It can make it narrative if writing in first person or it can leave it out and hint at it.

Example time.

Amber glanced at the screen to read the text from Dale.
Running late.
She replied. ‘CU soon.

“Sorry I have to check this.” Amber said and glanced at her cellphone.
           Running late
She sighed after she read the message from Dale.

“Sorry Scott I have to check this.” Amber said and glanced at her cellphone. “Looks like Dale’s going to be late. He didn’t say why.”

I looked down at my phone as it chimed indicating I had a text. Dale’s going to be late again and as usual, he didn’t say why.

Amber looked at the screen waiting for the response from Dale. When it chimed she nearly dropped it.
      Running late.
“Ugh be more specific.” She muttered as she replied.
      How long?

I simply prefer the look of italic as an identifier.

Emails are different, they definitely need a lead up and introduction.(nobody reads an email before seeing who it’s from.) As I mentioned before they really do need to have a purpose to the story. Without purpose they may come across as lame or filler. IMO.

Amber set her herbal tea down and sat at her desk. She turned her computer on and opened the email marked urgent from Dale. 

From: Dale@CliftonInc.com
To: Amber@CliftonInc.com
Subject: Today
Urgent

Hey Amber,

Got in early, I’m heading to an impromptu meeting with Valery. Sounds urgent… as urgent as she can be.

The proofs you need are already on your desk in the to-do box. By the way, they look good. Valery has noticed your efforts. This project is a challenge but, you’ve got this!

Scott is in a mood this morning. You might want to avoid him today.

Sincerely,
Dale Engleheart
Design & Revision Department Supervisor
Clifton Advertising & Design Inc.
Phone: 1-800-555-1234
Fax: 515-555-1235
-It’s not in the design if it’s not in the designer. – Anonymous

Now imagine a string of emails and every single one had that introduction, signature and sign off? Ugh. Talk about adding filler to bump up word count. It can look like this, everyone knows what email looks like.

Amber set her herbal tea down and sat at her desk. She turned her computer on and opened the email marked urgent from Dale.

Hey Amber,

Got in early, I’m heading to an impromptu meeting with Valery. Sounds urgent… as urgent as she can be.

The proofs you need are already on your desk in the to-do box. They look good by the way. Valery has noticed your efforts. This project is a challenge but, you’ve got this!

Scott is in a mood this morning. You might want to avoid him today.

-Dale

If I feel the need to add the signature etc, then I’ll do so, it’s not a rule or anything either way. If I felt the need to add it I might, on the first one… Or the first of the that particular string of them, then never again.

My advice about nonverbal dialogue.
Whatever way you decide to identify nonverbal dialogue from regular dialogue, make sure to keep it consistent. Keep an example or your rules for this easy to access so if you go eight chapters without a text you can reference it to keep it in the same style.

-Sheryl

Other dialogue posts

Hold your tongue!

Creative Dialogue Tags

Shhh… Don’t say a word.

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

Pursue

The Aftermath Of Rejection

Writing a story is an investment. Of time, energy, heart, soul and everything a writer has to offer. We put it all into our work and it’s hard when it doesn’t meet expectations and is rejected.

I’m going, to be honest, it is very hard to be told no, over and over and over again. Every single rejection brings a deflating wave of disappointment down on me. Sometimes I feel fragile and shattered by the mass amount of no’s. The key is to let it go. Move on and forward. I expect rejections and I’m not bitter about it. It does suck no matter how I look at it or feel about it. I just refuse to let it stop me from trying again. When I started this journey I told myself that there was only one outcome, being traditionally published. I plan to do whatever I have to do to get there. I have a fantastic support network of family and friends that believe in me and offer the encouragement needed to get through the vast swamp of no’s.

I’ve talked about this before, but since it’s part of my daily life I’m talking about it again. Only this time what do I do when I’ve been rejected 100%? First, I look at the possible and most likely reasons my Query was declined.

  1. The agent is busy and I suspect didn’t actually read my query
  2. My query letter wasn’t good enough
  3. There’s too much competition (There always will be, I tell myself to get over it)
  4. My synopsis wasn’t gripping enough
  5. My hook wasn’t as hook like as it could be.
  6. The agent isn’t actually open (Even though they say they are)
  7. There are errors that may need addressing (Grammar, structure, flow, etc.)
  8. My story isn’t good enough. (Yes it is. Never believe your story isn’t good- I dismiss this thought as soon as it pops in my head.)
  9. I’m not a good writer. (Again I dismiss this one too. I am and will only succeed if I don’t give in or give up.)
  10. There are too many queries out there to get noticed (This is a numbers game where persistence will pay off)

Regardless of the potential possibilities I must be open to suggestion and set my ego aside. I will go through each and take the time to ask, can it be better? THe answer is yes.

SO what do I do about it?

  1. I buy/read books on query letters, synopsis writing and open my mind to the possibility that I’m not perfect and there is room for improvement. If I’m rejected 100% over 300 times, then something needs tweaking or fixing.
  2. I look at my notes on the agents and agencies before querying again. (This is a big task and I use spreadsheets to keep track)
  3. Professional editing is always an option (unfortunately it’s also expensive so I do my best to work through it myself.)
  4. I set my work aside for a while before looking at it again. Proximity can be blinding. 
  5. I never give up. I know what I want and I’m going to get there. Even when it feels insurmountable, I never stop trying. 
  6. I get others to read my work and ask for honest opinions. Sometimes, ah who am I kidding, all the time, criticism is hard to hear. But if I’m not willing to listen then I’ll never get my end goal of traditional publishing.  This is the hardest to do and I’ve taken some, sulked and over time mulled it over and found solid advice/reasoning and finally use it to move forward.
  7. I talk to others in the same situation and those that have succeeded. Jealousy will get me nowhere, petty thoughts of ‘why did they get published and not me?’ are dangerous and won’t help.
  8. Keep my mind open to possibilities and change

Although I’ve had well over 300 rejections in my last round of queries I know I need to keep at it. I will revise my query letter, synopsis and try again. I’m also in the process of finding out how to better tailor each and every query to better my chances of getting noticed. There is one thing I’m doing that is huge, but I’ll discuss this another time.

My advice about the aftermath of rejection.
The entire process is an emotional battle field. No matter how carefully you plan your attack and defenses there will be a struggle, loss, pain, highs, lows, frustration, and elation, before you win the battle. The only way there is to never stop trying.

-Sheryl

Other related posts.

Keeping Track

Rejected

Tricky Little Non-Rejection

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 Bitter
Tailor

Dashing Dashes

I recently mentioned the use of ellipses. Used in dialogue sometimes they are erroneously used in place of what should actually be a dash.

What’s the difference? Good question.

Ellipses… are three consecutive dots that generally indicate words, sentences or entire sections are being left out.

Dashes – indicate dialogue, speech or something is being interrupted or cut off. A dash is the punctuation. No periods, question marks or exclamation points are used.

Example time:

The tone is set by punctuation.

Dale crossed his arms and scowled. “I don’t think…”

“No you don’t think Dale. That’s the entire problem.” Scott waived his hand dismissively at Dale. 

In that example, Dale comes across unsure or hesitant. That is not the tone I want to portray. Let me try again with a dash.

Dale crossed his arms and scowled. “I don’t think-”

“No you don’t think Dale. That’s the entire problem.” Scott waived his hand dismissively at Dale. 

I wanted Scott to cut Dale off rudely. Scott is slipping and I want his rude factor to go up. With Ellipses, Scott was just mean-ish. With a dash, he was both rude and mean.

In some circumstances, I’ll make the cut off more obvious.

Amber handed Rachael the printout. “I need you to go down to-”
Rachael flicked her hand cutting Amber off. “I know where to take it.” She snatched the paper from Amber’s hand.

I just love making mean people mean. In Rachael’s case she has just cause to dislike Amber and be short with her. Both Amber and Rachael’s lifestyles, attitudes and personalities conflict. Not all cut off’s are a personality flaw, in this moment Rachael is annoyed with Amber, she’s not usually rude in this manner.

Some programs such as *Word or *Microsoft Office don’t allow dashes in dialogue. When this happens I leave the punctuation out, cap it off with the quotation mark and manually go back to add the dash.

“I think we should-“  “ mark is curled the wrong way!  Ugh. Word automatically does this and it drives me bonkers. I go back and fix it manually.
“I think we should”   “I think we should-”

Maybe I’m missing a setting or something, maybe not. I’ll probably end up looking into it. While this manual fix is not efficient, it works for me. Like with all good things I would probably pick one character that might lean on this rude behavior as a quirk. A foreshadow of their true selves. Arguments are a good place to use them or for a character to make a point by cutting someone off.

My advice about Dashes.
They are an abrupt interruption not a trailing off. Be careful who you have rudely interrupting conversation. Too much might make everyone come across as a jerk.

-Sheryl

Other  posts

The jerk-face warrior

Glance back to look forward

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Lifestyle