Ode to a Typo

Typo by Roberto Blake

I red four you

The hole way though

Write form page on

Two the end of page too

I should of scene

You hidding their

I do now how to spell

I swear!

 

Got typo troubles? Here are three tips that can help:

  1. Leave some time between writing and reviewing, even if it’s only a few minutes.
  2. If you’re writing online, review it on paper.
  3. Read it out loud.

Or, if all else fails, just say “I meant to do that.” 🙂

***

Amazing image by Roberto Blake

I’m experimenting with posting quick tips — let me know what you think! (And yes, that is my attempt at a poem.)

Do you have your own typo tales or tips to share?

 

© Sue Archer and Doorway Between Worlds, 2015

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The Ghouls Have Returned!

Ghouls just wanna have funHappy Hallowe’en, everyone! I hope you are having a ghoulishly good time. I will shortly be shuffling through the streets with my son in search of brains, but before I do, I want to share some frighteningly fantastic news.

My grammar story “Abracadabra! Addressing Affect vs. Effect” has been published in the fall issue of The Ghouls’ Review by Grammar Ghoul Press. If you’re in the mood for creative reading treats so delicious they will pop out your eyeballs (ah, those pesky loose eyeballs), come by and haunt this fiendish site!

(There is also a monstrous picture of me, where you can see what I look like at midnight.)

Ghoulishly yours,

Sue

(Image credit)

DBW Review: Description & Setting by Ron Rozelle

Description and SettingI have a confession to make: I’m one of those readers who has been known to skip over passages full of description to get to the “good stuff.” I love the story of The Lord of the Rings, for example, but my attention wanes during those meandering sections sandwiched between poignant character moments and violent epic battles. With my avoidance of excessive elaboration (and my admittedly poor visual observation skills), I sometimes find it challenging to imbue my own writing with the right level of descriptive pizzazz.

And I know I’m not the only one. So I thought it was time to read through the book Description & Setting by author and creative writing teacher Ron Rozelle. His book is part of the Write Great Fiction series by Writer’s Digest, which features some helpful books on a variety of writing topics. I hadn’t read this one yet, and I thought it could be helpful for those of us who feel descriptively challenged.

What I Liked

This book covers a wide variety of topics relating to description — even more than I anticipated. Rozelle talks about how to describe both characters and settings. He includes tips for improving dialogue as well as techniques to strengthen exposition. He focuses on the small things, such as the use of adverbs and placement of punctuation, as well as the large things, like establishing the big picture of time and place. There’s a useful chapter on sensory description that includes lots of great examples.

I especially enjoyed his chapter “Too Little, Too Much,” which includes some fantastic thoughts on how to avoid repetition, prevent yourself from wandering off track, and recognize when no description at all is perhaps the better approach.

What Could Be Better

This book is an odd mix of wordiness and not enough detail. The introductions to some of the chapters are lengthier than they need to be, while many of the subtopics are not covered in as much detail as they could be. I was looking forward to the chapter on different considerations for different genres, for example, but most of the tips in there are straightforward common sense and didn’t really add to my knowledge.

It also suffers from an issue that I find common across many writing books – the examples are taken from older works, and samples from genre fiction are neglected in favour of literary fiction. Since most of the writers I know write genre fiction, I find this to be an unfortunate gap.

Favourite Learning Moment

In Rozelle’s chapter “Using Description and Setting to Drive the Story,” he talks about how to use description and setting to magnify a theme. But instead of focusing on the usual idea of an overall theme, he points out that each scene in the story has its own theme and that you can focus on one scene at a time when determining how the description can be improved. I loved the practical nature of this approach.

Many people come away from their English classes thinking that literary themes are a precious few haughty ideals—like pride, truth, or equality—that are chiseled deep into granite…My idea of a theme is anything that the writer is attempting to convey in a particular scene. So, instead of everlasting love, your theme in the sixth scene of your story might be trying to get a date. (p. 154)

Verdict

If you don’t have a lot of practice writing fiction yet, or you are looking for a general overview on the topic of description, then I believe this book will be helpful for you. But if you are searching for more in-depth content, I would look for detailed articles relating to your specific interests rather than buying this book.

***

If you are interested in reading about other writing resources, you may want to take a look at my Resources page. One of these resources is Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, which has a great chapter on showing vs. telling.

How much description do you like to see in the books you read? What are some of the challenges you face when describing things? Are there techniques that have helped you?

 

© Sue Archer and Doorway Between Worlds, 2015

Blast From the Past: Back to the Future Tense

In honour of Back to the Future Day, I put the pedal to the metal in my retro DeLorean and went back in time to August 2014. I needed to save my grammar story saga on verb tenses before it faded out of existence.

The Time Traveller’s Verbs

Part 1: Telling Campfire Tales

Part 2: How We Changed the Past

Part 3: To Save Our Future

You just never know when you will unexpectedly travel through time and suddenly need to explain what happened the day before next week. So if you missed this the first time around, you may want to take some notes.

Off to try out my hoverboard now…

Back to the future 2 hoverboard

Image from the movie Back to the Future 2, Universal Studios

A Status Update

Hello everyone,

Sorry for dropping off the map for a few weeks! Maybe there’s a blogging curse when you reach one hundred posts, because ever since I celebrated that milestone, I’ve been too busy to blog. It’s been a good sort of busy, though.

My freelance editing business has been going gangbusters, which is fantastic. Thank you to all of you who have supported me in this venture, especially those who have had me over for guest posts.

After constantly writing at my day job and editing in the evenings, I found I needed a break from my computer, otherwise I was pretty sure my eyes were going to fall out. Thus my absence from the blogging scene.

Secretary_at_typewriter

Ah, for the days of typewriters…

I’ve settled into more of an equilibrium now, though, so I should be back to writing posts (albeit less frequently) in the next couple of weeks. I’m currently planning out my series about Captain Comma and her crew. I’ve also been reading more writing resources, so stay tuned for another DBW Review, as well as a new Conversation Corner.

I hope all is well with you. I’ll see you soon!

Sue

 

Public domain image via Wikimedia Commons

One Hundred Posts, Three Quotes, and One Big Thank You!

I can’t believe Doorway Between Words is celebrating its 100th post!

100

Back when I started this blog in March 2014, I had a goal to write once a week. I managed to stick to that schedule most of the time. I even took up the gauntlet and wrote for twenty-six days in April during the 2015 A to Z Challenge.

What’s kept me motivated to write is my incredible community — all of you who have read, liked, and commented on my posts. I hope you’ll all still be with me when I reach 200 posts. 🙂

It seems appropriate that I have also just reached 300 blog followers. Thank you to all of you!

I have been remiss lately in posting additional thanks to those of you who have given me blog awards. I appreciate each and every nomination, even if I don’t always have the time to write up seventeen random facts about myself.

Here are some special individuals who have nominated me for awards in the past few months:

Alex Hurst, for her must-see Must-Read Blog Award

Lori MacLaughlin, for the Creative Blogger Award

Bradscribe, for the Liebster Award

Shawn, for the Real Neat Blog Award

Nimmi, for the Premio Dardos Award

I have also received a request from La Sabrosona to participate in the Three-Day Quote Challenge. I thought I’d share three of my favourite quotes that seem appropriate today:

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.

Mahatma Gandhi

I wrote about the importance of integrity and communication in Would Your Captain Be Proud? It’s still one of my favourite serious posts. When I write this blog, I feel like I can be me in all my forms — my serious side, my zany side, my scholarly side, my imaginative side. Thanks for making me feel comfortable being me.

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

George Bernard Shaw

I have this one up on my sidebar for a reason. It reminds me that communicating involves more than one person, and that thinking about your audience is the single most important thing you can do when writing. You are why I am here. Otherwise I’d be writing to the coldness of cyberspace, and who needs that?

Just do it.

Nike

I dithered a bit before I created this blog. What if I didn’t like it? What if I didn’t know what to write? What if it was a spectacular failure?

Sometimes, you just need to do it — take on those challenges and see where they take you.

This one’s taken me to a really great place. And I’m glad you were here to come along with me for the ride. 🙂

 

Love to you all,

Sue

 

Image by Kirsty Hall via Flickr/Creative Commons

A Punctuation Series Prologue

Captain’s Personal Log, Bookdate 091015.

Admiral Apostrophe is at it again. He’s pushing hard for all the stories in his sector to be scanned before the end of the year, so he can confirm there are no prohibited punctuation violations. Sometimes I wonder if he’s completely forgotten about our Prime Directive — to let language evolve according to the needs of the readers.

NASA picture of dying star

It’s going to be a tricky balancing act for our crew. We need to clear away grammatical errors while preserving the writer’s right to choose on matters of style. I suspect I’ll be dictating some creative reports over the next few weeks to satisfy all those prescriptive politicians back home.

At least I have a supportive crew behind me. They believe what I do — that our purpose is to help writers communicate their ideas. We’re not there to defend arbitrary rules in the face of common usage. (But try telling the Admiral that!)

Poor Spot. I think she’s picking up on my agitation as we prepare to head out. She’s been barking exclamation marks and now they’re scattered all over the corridors. It’s a good thing we got those upgraded maintenance bots, or it would be a real mess.

Sergeant Semi-Colon is winking at me and tilting his head to hurry me up, so I’d better close this now. I’ll write again when we get to our first story destination.

Comma out.

 

© Sue Archer and Doorway Between Worlds, 2015