Friday, January 27, 2012

Grammar: Fragments

*cough* Awkward. This was supposed to go up yesterday.

Anyway, today I shall talk about using sentence fragments in your writing. Obviously, grammar-wise, fragments are a no-no. I was always taught in school that using a fragment in your paper is the basically the worst thing you can do. But let's be honest here - writers break the rules all the time. Sometimes we capitalize words that aren't supposed to be capitalized just because it's important to the book. Some of us even make words up. We don't use commas when we're supposed to, or we use them wherever we think they fit. And with all that rule-breaking, some people still write great books.

To me, fragments are no different. Obviously, there are plenty of times when they don't work, but sometimes they just make a bigger impact. And when you're writing in first person - well, we think in fragments sometimes, don't we? So why should our characters be any different?

For example, you could have something like His eyes stayed on me the entire time. Like he actually cared. The second sentence is considered a fragment, but it seems to fit. It makes a bigger impact to me than the revision would, which would be something like this: His eyes stayed on me the entire time, like he actually cared. 

And . . . that's all I've got for today :D

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


We all know what a semicolon looks like. It's the dot and comma. Like this  - ;

How do we know when to use them? First of all, it connects independent clauses. You know, those complete sentences.

"Suzy loves cats; she loves them so much, she made a kitty shrine in her bathroom."

You could easily write this sentence as two sentences. But with a semicolon, you are connecting them in a different way. You are showing the close relationship between these sentences.

You also need a semicolon if there's a conjunction in front of it: therefore, nevertheless, besides, etc.

"My mother and I never cut our hair; besides, the lock of hair was black, not brown."

Note the comma after the conjunction. Also necessary. Again, you can rewrite it. This one, you could have used a comma and an "and". But the semicolon makes the sentence shorter, and as a writer you know to avoid making everything too long.

Those are the two main points of semicolons. I cannot think of other uses, but if you do, then comment. Here are some more examples:

"She read The Scarlet Letter; it was boring and long, but at least it wasn't Twilight."
"He wished on a shooting star; therefore, he thought his wish would come true."
"Mary studied five hours a night in preparation for her exam; nevertheless, she got a C."
"John played sports and was really popular; everyone loved him and looked up to him."

Anyways, there is your lesson in punctuation. Keep writing, don't steal, eat your vegetables. Have a wonderful rest of the week! :D

Monday, January 23, 2012


Today is just a short post about a ƒantastic site called EditMinion.

Basically you just copy and paste your text into the box. Then the site works it's magic and bam! Finds all your repeated words, possible grammar mistakes, spelling errors and a few other things. Simple right?

I don't think there's most else to tell except here's the link if you want to try it out for yourself...

Good luck and keep writing!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Showing vs. Telling

(I was supposed to do this yesterday, sorry.)

Telling - directly stating description, thoughts, emotions, etc.'
Showing - indirectly stating description, thoughts, emotions, etc.

Like with the rest of writing, there has to be a balance. You can't have too much telling and not enough showing, or vice versa. It gets tedious after a short while. Showing too much can be confusing, when you're not spelling it out for people. But first, I'll give you an example of each so you know just exactly what I mean by show vs. tell.

"She yawned as he continued his tirade. Leaning back against the headrest, she struggled to stay awake as her brother ranted, his hands fluttering about in agitated gestures."

"She was bored as he continued his tirade. She tried to hide exactly how bored and tired she was, because she knew how enraged her brother was over this particular topic of conversation."

Easy to tell the difference between them? Showing tends to use more action, or smaller clues in the action, to state what is going on. Telling comes straight out and says it. In both, you can tell that a) she is bored, and b) he's angry. These are really easy examples, but you get my main point.

Imagine an entire paragraph in telling. I'm not going to write one because, well, it was frustrating to write the example above. I'm more of a showing kind of person. But showing gets convoluted, and if it's too difficult, your readers are going to set it down and wander off to their fridge to drown their confusion in chocolate milk. So. How do you create a balance?

Relax. If you try to force a scene to show or some dialogue to tell, it'll be obvious. If you're more inclined to showing, like I am, simply drop some telling lines every now and then. If you have to, create a stupid character and have your MC spell out everything that's happening for them. If you're a telling kind of person, then try to trust your reader; some things they can figure out on their own, like if you say the killer was tall and pale with a British accent and a person who fits that exact description is the MC's best friend. At least include actions with the emotions you're saying, like "he said excitedly" or "I lean forward in anticipation".

Watch your words. When you want to create some suspense, don't tell the reader everything they need to know. Show some of it through the characters' actions. In their words, conceal what could be interpreted as a threat. A very famous example being: "I'll be back." (You can find a variation of that line in so many books, as well...) If you're writing a slow, romantic scene, then absolutely tell more than show (especially if showing includes not enough clothing, but that's my opinion). Include emotions, like "I was nervous as he leaned in..." or some other such thing.

Take your time. Do I really have to say much on this one? As writers, you should know better than to rush through your best scenes. Don't write words that feel wrong. Don't put "emaciated" where you mean "skinny". Don't tell me he's eager to start training if he's sitting there with a blank look on his face. Don't tell me her mother is happy if her arms are crossed and she's scowling. Show what you mean. Tell us want you want us to know. Slow down, occasionally watch the words you're putting on the screen.

All in all, showing vs. telling: find a balance. Don't let either dominate your writing, or it'll be tedious/confusing. Good night, and keep writing! <3

Monday, January 16, 2012


Has anyone ever read Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel? Oh my gosh, my teacher used to say that Oppel was the master of description. And believe me, the beginning left me breathless.

You guys lucked out, I was able to find an excerpt of the book online. Here's the first paragraph....

Chapter One
© Kenneth Oppel
Read the Excerpt

Skimming over the banks of the stream, Shade heard the beetle warming up its wings. He flapped harder, picking up speed as he homed in on the musical whine. He was almost invisible against the night sky, the streaks of silver in his thick black fur flashing in the moon's glow.

I mean, yes, this is written in Children's-fiction-language, it's not what you would expect from a YA novel or an adult novel, but it's children's fiction! It doesn't have to be.

First off, you have to know the difference between children's fiction, YA fiction, and Adult fiction. You have to find out which one your story fits into before we deal with the type of description. If you're not sure, read the articles below.

Writing YA Versus Adult Fiction: What’s the difference?
The Difference Between Middle Grade & Young Adult

I'm not going to go too far into novel length, word count, and all that other stuff that makes the difference between the three. As the title points out, we're talking about description. Let's start with determining thought processes. Emotion is just as much a part of description as sight or taste.

Thought Process

Children's Fiction - They are generally more accepting. They aren't as questioning as YA fiction, and if they do question, it won't be to the depths as YA or adult. They don't have as many of the experiences or knowledge to. Most children might want to be older or think that they are bigger.

YA Fiction - YA is usually the emotion-oriented of the three. Their actions are based the most off of emotions. The MC tend to be less sure of themselves because they don't have the protection shell of a younger child and lack the confidence of adults who have found there place.

Adult Fiction - The MC has found their place and has been there a while, gotten confidence and found a job. Maybe settled down. They tend to be more sure of themselves and cling to old beliefs. Things have been the way they are for quite some time, so they are very comfortable in their regime.

I want to remind you that I am just pointing out generalizations, not all MCs/stories are like the ones I am categorizing, there are exceptions.

Now that we have thought process, we can determine how they react to change.

React to Change

Children's Fiction - As children go, or at least young children, they tend to accept things. They don't know the boundaries of our world like older people do. Who is to tell them that mermaids don't exist? Or that everyone has a happy ending? 

YA Fiction - Change? There's so much of it going on, usually the only thing that they can do is grab onto a piece of floating wood and wait out the storm. Change is the way of life. 

Adult Fiction - Things have been the way they are for as long as they could remember. They grew up knowing these things, living this way, they don't usually expect change. If change happens, they might hang on to the old ways as hard they possibly can. 

Common Points of the Stories

Children's Fiction - Growing up, watching change as an outsider or having it affect their older sibling or parent

YA Fiction - BIG ONE: Finding their place in the world, being thrown into the sea of change

Adult Fiction - Sudden change in society, fixing/stopping change, learning to overcome and accept change

See how important it is to determine their reaction to change? It can seriously affect your story. Let's say that a meteor crosses the sky. A child would think immediately about a shooting star and maybe make a wish. A teenager might think about it as an omen, there's so much going on they can't focus on it but the thought stays in the back of their head for a long time. An adult might immediately worry about their families or scoff at the idea immediately and shove it out of their head. Things couldn't possibly change now. 

One change but three totally different reactions. You have to keep this in mind when writing detail and description in your story. It may not seem important to know which type of fiction you are writing in, but I can't emphasize enough to find out/decide which one you write in. 

Now is as good as any time to talk about the main points in description. You may be familiar with the five senses, but they aren't the only ones. 

Sight - eyes, seeing
Hear - ears, hearing
Taste - mouth, tasting, eating
Touch - hands, skin, feel
Smell - nose, smelling
Emotions - mind, feelings
React - mind, instincts, reacting
Others- not only emotions and such from your MC, but from others too

It's important to have a balance of these. You might think that sight should be the most used, but keep in mind about emotions. It is also a big one. You can't just see everything, you have to formulate your own opinions and emotions about things, this is especially important in YA fiction. 

Also keep in mind the details about your MC, as they will also greatly affect the senses that you put in. If your character is blind, it won't "see" per se. If your character is deaf, the same goes for hearing. Description changes with the main character. 

Age, characteristics, personalities, etc. they all change the way that description should be added. I'm not going to tell you a certain way to describe something because of all the different varieties of description. As with anything, the most important thing is balance.

You can't describe the whole story long, then it becomes nonfiction. You can't lack any sort of description otherwise the story looses it's meaning. You have to find a healthy balance of description. Let's look at a few examples...

A - She told Max about her necklace and he frowned. She started to sing. 

B- She whispered to Max about the broken necklace and he frowned, obviously thinking back to the time that he had given it to her in remembrance of their mother. Trying to show him that she held no grudges, she started to sing the lullaby he used to whisper when they were little. 

Does A seem to be lacking something? Do the sequence of events not make complete sense? Read B, make sense now? If you add the girl's emotion, the description about the necklace being broken, and the conclusion to sing to make him better, the story makes a lot more sense. Now read C (below).

C - She whispered about the broken, silver necklace to her older brother, Max who stood over her trying to eat his little bowl of pink ice cream in peace. He slammed the little, rusted spoon against the white ceramic of the bowl and scooped up another small bite of the tasty treat. His mouth moved into a tight frown that hid all of his teeth, obviously remembering the time so long ago that 

Description can make or break your story. C, if you hadn't noticed, is a little over-described. The bit about the ice cream, although allowing us to picture the scene better, completely diverts the reader's attention from the point of the story; the broken necklace. Be careful with description.

Pros and Cons of Description

Pro - Helps the reader picture the scene
Con - Can be overused
Pro - Brings depth to a scene
Con - Makes it easy to tell instead of show
Pro - A sign of a good/growing writer
Con - Can distract from the story
Pro - Tells a lot about a character or place

Obviously, the pros outweigh the cons and description is a very important part of a story. This section was just meant to remind you that description can be a double-edged sword. Be careful when you attempt to use it.


Use it or lose it. You've heard the saying before. The most important place to use description in is the beginning. There's no other time that you'll be able to use it in that amount so make it count.

Description can either be used to show or tell, make sure you have a healthy balance. You've sure heard a lot about that.

Don't let description distract you or the reader from the story.

Practice! As with anything, if you use it enough, you will get better.

My advice is to focus on who your characters are. If you can figure that out, description will be easy.

Wow, that was pretty long. I hope that I could help you better understand the art of describing! :] Have a nice day, a happy January and good writing to you all!

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Ah, dialogue. I consider the skill of a writer to measured in how s/he writes to be measured by how well they pull it off; it shows the degree to which they now how people behave, the know how to create realistic characters, and know their plot. It does many things - they establish the mood, provide exposition, reveal characteristics of the speaker, move the plot forward (by adding or reducing conflict), refresh certain facts, and foreshadow. See, dialogue does many things - but one thing that they should never do is nothing.

 It should not be used for mundane greetings, conversations about the weather (unless it concerns character development), or random things which do not influence the plot or reveal the personality of the speakers (a conversation with a cashier, that never appears again, about the rising prices of gas should not be included unless your novel happens to concern that, for example). What it should be, however, is realistic for the character that is speaking. It should seem like something someone would actually say to the person they are talking to; it shouldn't reference the past too much (if you're using it for exposition purposes), if at all, and it should flow normally. As an example, whenever your tell a joke to your friends about a party they were all there for, would you go in depth about the party? No. You would just assume that they would understand - it's the same with your characters. When they are talking to someone that they know, they assume certain things are known.

 The other problem is with flow; what I mean by that is how things are revealed within dialogue. All too often I'll read a novel that has a character simply telling another character outright what the problem is and how they feel about it. Only the bluntest of characters will do that (or characters within a dire, urgent situation) Think about it for a moment; when you want something, or have a problem, you're unlikely to just go up to the another person Dialogue also has to fit the mood of the scene; eloquence is not usually present when monsters are attacking the city, nor is extreme formality when the speaker is around friends. Anything that anybody says is driven by some emotion, some motivation; it is what shape their words, what volume they speak in, how they approach a question. If the motivation is not present in dialogue then there's something wrong.

 Here's an example of some bad dialogue, to show some of the main problems mentioned here:

"Nheim Enther, will you go to war with us, to fight against the Misery-lord, the remaining god? After that will be able to live in without his judgement." He queried. 
 "No, I won't." She said, looking away. 
 "Why not? You have seen the conditions of the city, haven't you? It's outside everyday." He said, disbelievingly. 
"I can't trust you." 
"Why not?" 
"You sabotaged those trials. It wasn't a good thing to do." She said.

The first problem is that the emotion is the scene is barely there; the first character is asking a friend to help them start a war, but he hardly seems interested in it and divulges too much detail that the woman already knows. For the woman, she seems coldly logical and childlike in her moral stance, speaking in simple sentences and vague responses. This moves the plot forward, but in a way that seems forced, as though this dialogue has to be there, but the authour sure isn't going to take time making it good. 

To fix it, rewording is required, as well as putting more information into the dialogue tags without dragging it down. 

"T - Nheim Enther," Her title was unfamiliar on his tongue. "The Amourci requested that I start a war - we wonder if you will be on our side."
She should look surprised, but instead she looked as though she had been expecting this conversation to come. 
"I won't fight with you. I'm still loyal," She said, taunting, bitter. 
"Galen, you can't trust him. I know that, far better than anyone-"
"I've told you where I stand."
"You've seen the condition of the Amourci, the Ventri -  Cabriel, itself, " His voice rose. 
"They did not see, they did not trust."
"Please, Tesian, we need your leadership," He made one last attempt, pleading. 
"I can no longer trust your judgement." It was said in an abrasive whisper. Aureliusz bristled. 
"In truth, I don't think I ever should have."
"What do you mean by that?" He was deadpan, his tone a reflection of his mind. 
"Don't play innocent, Aureliusz. I know you were never that," She laughed without mirth. "At least, I know now."He gestured sharply for her to explain, the tendrils of self-loathing feeding this destructive activity. Her cup was slammed on the counter.
"I know what you did, on the trials - I heard about how you prevented that envoy from being tried, the numerous others that you sabotaged. Who knows how many murderers went loose because of you!"

While this isn't perfect, it's better than the first; the emotion of both characters is better reflected in there words, and, while past history is referenced, it is not outright stated. This slice of dialogue now achieves two things; it adds more conflict to the plot and reveals the personality of the characters. It is now (hopefully) more realistic and actually interesting to the people reading it (within context).

 Now, one sure way to check your dialogue is read it out, preferably to someone else. You'll be able to tell whether or not your dialogue is realistic and make sure your characters don't sound like they're reading off a teleprompter.

A Helpful Link:
Examples of Bad Dialogue

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Yesterday's Endings

(This is a very short post - it was meant for Tuesday, only no one did it. I apologize!)

Endings. That which brings the entire story to a close, or perhaps only this adventure. But the main point is that they END.

Here are some types of endings:
1. Normal Novel - I don't know what else to call it. That typical, sums-it-all-up kind of ending. The kind where all the details are figured out, all the problems are ironed out. Ex: Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde, or The Tension of Opposites by Kristina Mcbride, or fairytales (Gail Carson Levine's, if you'd prefer hers).

2. Normal Series - That heartbreaking, lovable ending when you have to say goodbye to the world you spent 6 books reading about. Every single problem is generally worked out. Ex: well, any last book of a series. Oh, you wanted me to list specific series? Okay. The Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld, The Eragon: Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini, or the Warriors series by Erin Hunter.

3. Cliffhangars - Those books where you want to scream "what happens next?!" These could be the first book of a series, or simply where the author decided to taunt you by never solving the problem. Usually left off on a tense moment, or something pretty big still needs to be solved. Ex: Discordia: the Eleventh Dimension by Dena K. Salmon, or Maze Runner by James Dashner, or... I don't know. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordin? That left off around Luke's betrayal, right?

There're probably more, but they slip my mind at the moment. So, on to writing one.

The first step, obviously, is writing the rest of the story (unless you're one of those people who start writing in a random place and expand from there). Depending on the ending, you can choose to start drawing to a gradual close, up to a couple chapters before the actual last page, or you can choose to leave off drawing to a close until a couple pages before the actual last page. Example (shortened somewhat, obviously):

"Suzy grimly battled with King Evil, trying not to let her weariness show. Around her, the screams of dying men echoed through the vast plain, The smell of death heavy in the air... Finally, King Evil gave one mighty heave and flung Suzy backward into the back of one of his vicious giant warriors. With the wind knocked out her, she helplessly watched him advance... With a final, desperate surge of energy she stood up and rammed her sword into the king's chest... After the quick retreat of King Evil's forces, her own men bustled around the plain, checking for survivors and treating the wounded... After listening to her friends, she realized the perfect solution to [insert smaller, less- important-to-the-story problem here] and quickly told them... Her father reported that King Evil's erratic, violent nature wasn't due solely because he was evil. He had simply been mad at the world because of a curse laid upon him as a child... As her right hand man asked about what do with the King's body, she told him to burn it, but with a proper funeral and let his wife be present... Eventually, when everything settled down, she smiled sadly to herself. What a crazy, confusing, sad world, she thought. As they placed the fallen King Evil's crown upon her head, she vowed to be just and wise in all of her decisions as queen, the opposite of what her opponent had been."

"I race along the path, my breaths loud and heartbeats louder. Don't let him get there first, I pray silently. The rows of cotton and wheat on either side of me never seem to end; I wonder for a split second whether I am even moving. But the burn in my legs says otherwise, and I continue to push myself. Eventually, the fields blend into hills, and I can see the mighty temple in the distance. Involuntarily I slow down, every part of me screaming in outrage at the 5 mile run. I put my hands on my knees, panting, and with horror and helplessness, I watch Paul sprint up the steps to the marble columns and then to the entrance. I am so close, the temple of Gregory is less than half a mile away, but I cannot make my muscles move. When he walks out of the entrance ten minutes later, he is smugly carrying the sacred pitcher filled with the ashes of a white lion. He comes my way, and sees me curled on the ground.
"It pays to have a house closer to the temple," he chuckles, and leaves me. I know then that no matter how good of a ruler he pretends to become, I will take the crown from him, or I will die trying. [End of Book 1]"

Perhaps not the best of my writing, but not the point. You notice the difference? Not only are there elipses to show that there is more writing that would this post far too long, but the first one solves smaller problems. The second is a bit more vague, but you understand that it's not over. The narrator will stop at nothing to get that crown and dispose of her cheating rival (that's what I meant when he walks by and implies that he didn't have as far to run).

Hope this has helped to some degree. Have a blessed day and keep writing!

~Midnight <3

Monday, January 9, 2012


Well… it’s been a little slow around here, but I hope as we get further into the new year, that things pick up a bit. Today I’ve got a simple and short post, which I decided to divide into three parts!

1) What I’ve been reading: I finished an advanced copy of a book about a week and a half ago…and it is still on my mind. It’s amazing. I don’t want to say much about it, nor will I post the cover because it’s prob. going to change, but it is YA and coming out this summer (as far as I know). *is a big tease* Though, I may mention it in future posts with more details, so keep an eye out! Aside from that, I also finished Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare and Nightshade by Andrea Cremer.

2) What I’ve been writing: Oh. This one is hard to answer. It’s been on and off for several weeks now…and I’m literally going in circles. I know some of the characters, and even have vague ideas for certain things, but I need to sit and think about it some more. Again…I am going for YA, but that’s about all I have in terms of labeling it.

3) Writing goals for 2012: write a novel. That’s it. I don’t want to attach any specifics to it like word count or time period.  But if I make enough progress, I hope to upload parts of it to, and maybe add snippets to my future posts here, and share it with you all. That has been a long time coming. So, that's two goals right there.

Have a good week!

*For post #1, see here.

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