When King Lear dies in Act V, do you know what Shakespeare has written? He’s written, “He dies.” That’s all; nothing more. No fanfare, no metaphor, no brilliant final words. The culmination of the most influential work of dramatic literature is, “He dies.” It takes Shakespeare, a genius, to come up with, “He dies.” And yet every time I read those two words, I find myself overwhelmed with dysphoria. And I know it’s only natural to be sad, but not because of the words “He dies.” but because of the life we saw prior to the words.
—Mr. Edward Magorium from Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium
I used to suffer from OCCPD. What is OCCPD? Obsessive compulsive comma-placing disorder. I put commas all over the place, anywhere and everywhere that I pleased.
Then I started “maturing” and I started restricting my comma use and being careful with where I place them. I also learned about other puncutation marks, such as colons and m-dashes.
However, I’m now questioning this mindset of needing to overcome OCCPD. I have three reasons why it’s okay to have OCCPD.
1) Commas are easier to spot than no-commas. Basically, if no comma exists where a comma should go, you have to realize you need to put something where there’s nothing. If there is a comma, well, then your mind registers that you have placed punctuation there in the first place.
2) Commas are easier to remove than insert. Now you’ve noticed a comma. Does it belong? If it doesn’t, you just need to remove it. In order to insert a comma, you need to realize the need for the comma in the first place.
3) Reading something with commas is generally easier than reading it without. I proofread people’s papers as a job. Sometimes I’ll see sentences that are five lines long, and yet the writer maybe used only two commas. In that case, I first need to seperate the sentence down, and analyze each part, before I realize where the commas must actually be placed.
If a sentence is five lines long, and chopped into a bunch of little sections, it’s a lot easier to see what doesn’t belong.
Keep in mind that this is all based on the fact that comma rules aren’t always easy to remember. Nor are they set in stone. Even my english teacher admitted that sometimes in very short instances, it’s okay.
So now I think I’ll not restrict my comma use as much, but I’m still going to use my newer friends of m-dashes and, more rarely, colons, just because it’s fun to spice things up too.
I mentioned recently in passing that I hate skimming in writing. By skimming I mean I pass a significant amount of time where the reader needs to know that things have happened but I don’t want to show it. It would just take too long.
So my question for you this week:
How do you handle skimming in stories?
I wrote a novel a while back. I edited it really carefully. I think it’s good. I don’t know, but I think.
The problem that I’m having is I need to write a synopsis for this novel in order to do anything with it. That leaves me confuzzled. I do searches and I can’t seem to learn a lot.
Which brings me to this week’s question.
Do you know if any good websites or tips for writing really good synopses?
Maybe, in view of this question, I should make it my goal this year to get my first rejection letter. (Ouch. That’s tough. But a good plan in my head.)
It’s not that I have no ideas, though I have suffered from that before at the beginning of a semester. I have a zillion ideas actually.
I came up with one that involved a take-off of Cinderella, where although Cinderella does go to the ball, and she is the most beautiful woman, the prince is already in love with someone else. Stuck on whose POV to write it in.
I have a story that I wrote that I’m questioning now, because I can see people having a problem with a man giving up his allegiance to his country so easily. But I wrote it, so I probably should look at editing it. There has to be something good in there.
I have another story that I need to fix up, because I think I’m going to submit it to the writing contest at school. I had doubts, then a lot of the reviews came back positive, so I might.
Lastly, I want to proofread my mermaid story (Just Trust Me), because that one is being submitted to the writing contest for sure. I’m also basing my topic for my giant research paper this semester on that story, so why not?
Oh, and I am suppose to be working on a novel that will be cool but I have serious writer’s block on, because I have to skim. (I hate skimming)
On top of all that, I have to critique someone’s story because I said I would. I pretty much vanished for her off of the face of the planet because of sickness and school so she is probably wondering where I am. That I will do Saturday night.
And I should write some blog posts, so you don’t just get me rambling since I know you didn’t subscribe for that. :)
So I have things to do. And I have a three-day weekend waiting for me. But none of these options appeal to me. They are all just so… blah. Well, not that blah. I really do like the stories. It’s just that I don’t even know what I want to do exactly. Maybe there are just too many options.
On the plus side for me, one of the teachers at my school is saying we might finally have enough people interested in doing a writing group. So I’ll have some accountability soon and hopefully someone to bounce good ideas off of. Then I’ll know without submitting it to a bunch of people who see all the grammar mistakes I didn’t if it might be good.
And I started writing for the newspaper at school. My first article I copied from my post about bus travel that I wrote for this blog. I suppose I could get a lot of articles if I looked here actually, but I don’t think I will.
So I’m hoping my day off tomorrow will help, because I have been kinda looking forward to this three-day weekend and I don’t want to blow it. I’d rather it in February since I have more to do then, but January isn’t all that bad. And who knows? Maybe I’ll be so motivated I’ll tackle one of the rewrites I have planned to do “some day” after I work on my two stories for my writing contest.
What do you all do for motivation?
We all have them. They sneak into your writing and are evil little things that make the writing boring and dull. Passive sentences, namely ones that contain the words was and were.
The problem is that we don’t see them. They are invisible as well as evil. So how do we get the removed?
My technique is different than most. I propose that you do a find and replace for all your wases as 1234567890. Change were to 0987654321. This way it is an obvious thing to your eyes. However, once you go through all of your rewriting, you can immediately change them back to was and were that showed up in dialog.
That’s just how I do it. Maybe you can try it and tell me what happens.
One of my favorite elements, and I’ll admit, the hardest element as well, of writing science fiction is the chance that I have to create a world. It is just awesome to be able to put all the ideas I have of how society can develop into a little place all my own, without having to live in it. (There are some of my worlds that I don’t really want to live in.)
However, that’s all blah, blah, blah. The important thing is how to build it. Like I said, this is one of the hardest parts. I start to write a novel, stop half way through, or worse all the way through, realize that something pivotal doesn’t work, and so have to fix that up or figure out how it works. That’s just plain frustrating.
But perhaps I have figured out a solution.
See, I just wrote a story which has been running around here with a couple names; mostly you’ll know it by Ethical or mermaids. Now the title is Just Trust Me and should be appearing here shortly.
This story, although a short story, can be expanded so this is the prologue of a novel. It’s just set up for that. At first I thought that I will never write her story. However, the more I began rewriting it, and polishing it up, and making this world a decent world, the more I wanted to write it into a novel.
See, it’s a lot easier to write something tiny. I’m only playing around at the moment with 8500 words. That doesn’t take that much time to work through. However, by creating the world at the moment, and figuring out how it can function in a reasonable way, I happen to have myself set up for a very good novel world with not that much difficulty.
Not only that but I already know four of the main characters in the novel, enough that I think they’ll start to speak to me on the first draft.
Now, I don’t think this novel is going to show up in bookstores any time soon. I probably won’t even start writing it until July or August. But–I also think that it does work to write a short story about all of your main characters before you write the novel. Not only does it give you something smaller to work on, but it lets you know their world and their thoughts.
Have you ever tried to do this? How’d it turn out?