Apostrophes

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Apostrophes

Postby Yogi » 29 Mar 2013, 09:05

I've seen it. I've done it. We have all misused apostrophes. It seems that the English language affords many opportunities to confuse contractions with cases of possession. They're verses their, is a common example. The linked article clearly explains when to use the apostrophe, but the author also proposes a new treatment when using the apostrophe to indicate plurals. The example given is “The x’s in the expression represent unknown quantities.” The letter x is plural indicated by the presence of 's. The claim is that in view of the existing confusion this plural use of apostrophe is too complex, and the rule should be changed. Italicize the letter x in this case and add an s without an apostrophe. Thus, “The xs in the expression represent unknown quantities.” Well, that all works fine in a word processor where you can add italics, even if it might be visually difficult to distinguish from the rest of the text. But, when you are hand writing that sentence, it's a useless rule. Then again, I suppose handwriting is passè these days.

http://scottswrittenwords.blogspot.com/ ... using.html
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Re: Apostrophes

Postby Kellemora » 29 Mar 2013, 09:55

Hi Yogi

I know Scott. He's quite a character!

We watched a video the other day of all the Commercial Business Signs that have punctuation errors.
It was very fast paced, so hard to catch all of them in one viewing.

I still mess up with punctuation, probably more than most folks.
My late wife caught every problem, but these days, I have to pay a copy editor to do it, because even the paid proofreaders miss several.

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Re: Apostrophes

Postby kg » 29 Mar 2013, 22:56

Yogi wrote:The claim is that in view of the existing confusion this plural use of apostrophe is too complex, and the rule should be changed. Italicize the letter x in this case and add an s without an apostrophe. Thus, “The xs in the expression represent unknown quantities.” Well, that all works fine in a word processor where you can add italics, even if it might be visually difficult to distinguish from the rest of the text. But, when you are hand writing that sentence, it's a useless rule.


There's another possibility. Simply underline the x. "The xs in the expression..." That would work whether in a word processor or handwriting. Of course, it looks a little weird, but once the rule was set and generally accepted, it would be viable.
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Re: Apostrophes

Postby Yogi » 29 Mar 2013, 23:45

My first thought was to ask if it's really necessary. That plural isn't used very often, and that isn't what confuses most people.
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Re: Apostrophes

Postby kg » 30 Mar 2013, 00:39


True, but the conditions exist, nonetheless, and standardization would minimize confusion. I thought of an alternative...how about, "x'es"? It's more confusing to use "xes," so inserting the apostrophe would make it a bit better.

Sorry...just an old Aspie obsessing on an issue. :P
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Re: Apostrophes

Postby Ice.Maiden » 30 Mar 2013, 09:18

Sorry, I think the first proposal's the best. It's explained well enough up there. Using apostrophe's can flummox everyone at times, but it's just remembering singular possession, plural possession and contraction.

The cat was biting its tail - doesn't need an apostrophe, because the sentence's referring to possession, and isn't a contraction of "it is - or it's".

It's not fair - requires an apostrophe because this's short for "It is not fair".

Who, follows the same pattern. Who's there? - needs an apostrophe because it's short for "who is there?"
Whose, is used as in: "Whose car is that?"

Your and you're are even more simple. Your, is possession whether singular or plural, and you're just means "you are".

A group of scientists doesn't need an apostrophe because it's simply a plural, but: The scientist's book would, because it's possession - a book belonging to a scientist.

It can be confusing in certain instances, but I'd still rather read some text that's grammatically correct than a piece that isn't. I don't think it matters so much when we're writing to someone we know, because we get the gist of the message anyway.
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Re: Apostrophes

Postby Yogi » 30 Mar 2013, 12:06

Distinguishing contractions from possessive case is not a big deal, but tossing in plurals adds one too many cases for the apostrophe. So the author of the article postulates. I agree with making life simpler, but the idea of adding italics is self-defeating. It's not a simple thing to see or reproduce.
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Re: Apostrophes

Postby Ice.Maiden » 30 Mar 2013, 15:19

You're right. I think it all becomes reasonably simple as time goes on. When children, for instance, are first learning how to put sentences together, I think they need to be told a bit at a time, with very simple explanations. I can remember feeling totally baffled when learning about clauses. All these rules must perplex folk learning English, but I'd still rather learn our language than trying to fathom out all those Chinese or Arabic symbols. One slip of the pen might make a complete mess of something!
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Re: Apostrophes

Postby Kellemora » 31 Mar 2013, 11:27

Skewl and the teaching of Math is just as bad as teaching English.

My first Math teacher told us that 2 does not go into 1.
My next Math teacher told us that 2 does go into 1, it goes 1/2 times. Did the first Math teacher tell us a LIE?
Then comes my third Math teacher and they tell us that 2 goes into 1, point 5 (0.5) times.

And in Science, the EGOTISTICAL REQUIRED STATEMENT OF "No More No Less," was MANDATORY when naming the number of elements, even though, at that time, we already knew there were more elements than shown in the textbook.
It was that REQUIRED STATEMENT part of our response that turned me against SKEWL's and how they teach!

But back to English, or should I say Formatting and Punctuation. It was BEAT INTO US, by the Sisters of the Most Vicious Blood, to place TWO SPACES behind the period at the end of a sentence.
Since the programmers who designed HTML were not smart enough to include this in HTML programming, NOW the RULES are changed. We are supposed to use ONE SPACE behind a Period at the end of a sentence.
I REFUSE to Follow this NEW rule, built upon an ERROR.
When I submit my manuscripts, they WILL HAVE TWO Spaces after a Period.
Now their computers may remove them, but I have the satisfaction of knowing "I" put them in where they belong.

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Re: Apostrophes

Postby Ice.Maiden » 08 Apr 2013, 11:23

I can't comment about maths more than I already have done. I hated it, and simply couldn't do it, apart from the straight-forward addition, subtraction, division and multiplication, BUT, with re-learning stuff to help my children, it's come back to me a lot easier second time around, so maybe something lodged there at the start, but I refused to acknowledge it.

General punctuation, and apostrophes in particular, aren't always easy. If you're typing/writing something quickly, this's often when errors occur, but if you know the basic rules - as with anything - you can go back and correct them (if you notice where you've gone wrong!). It'd seem alien to me if text was without all these things, especially where commas and full-stops are concerned.

I read a poor example recently. At the weekend, I met a man who's published a book on Kindle, called "From Dynamos to Horses", so I went to read a bit of it. The punctuation's poor, and although I could read it as it's meant to sound, missing commas out gives a sentence a different meaning, which I found amusing. When writing to folk you know, you get used to each other's style, but I thought it looked bad in a book which's there for all and sundry to read.
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Re: Apostrophes

Postby Kellemora » 09 Apr 2013, 09:33

Hi Icey

That is one of the problems with the ability to publish a book so easily today. There is a lot of stuff being published without first being edited. Which turns people off against e-Books real quick.

I was almost tempted to get a couple of things out myself, but decided to wait and run it through a group critique and edit first. Making lots of changes I never saw in the text. Even with access to some mighty powerful tools.

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Re: Apostrophes

Postby Ice.Maiden » 09 Apr 2013, 09:58

Hi Gary - yes, I agree with you. When these authors are re-reading their own work, they punctuate in their minds, but forget that seeing the actual text can read completely differently. As with the person I mentioned above, I think maybe the story turns out to be reasonably good, but just as you said, it put me off reading any more because of mistakes which stuck out like a sore thumb to me.
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Re: Apostrophes

Postby Kellemora » 09 Apr 2013, 10:17

The more critique work I'm asked to help with. I'm learning to ignore spelling and punctuation, until they submit a copy for Editing or Proofing. I made one guy made because every place he used the word then, he meant than. I made only one note about it, so he could use a find and replace to fix them quickly. I ignored the hundreds of times he used words like was, had, would, were, etc. per each 10k word count on this first reading. Mainly because I was told he was young and very easily offended. I finally met him at the last meeting and we had a chance to talk. During our conversation, I asked him point blank if he wanted me to offer suggestions on removing those words from his script. I was quite surprised at his response. He said, "yes, by all means, but I need showed how to fix it too, not just that I used the wrong word." He added that he knows he used the wrong words, but did not know how to reword a sentence to get rid of them. So, we spent a good hour after the meeting going through the ways to word sentences. We also had help from another person who knows grammar, else I may lead the poor boy astray, hi hi..... I would come up with a good sentence wording, then the grammarian would fix it for me. So together we heaped a lot of advice on this kid. He has an amazing story, great plot and storylines. Problem is, you cringe trying to read it, hi hi..... We all think with some cleaning up and rewriting, it may be a best seller. Wish I could say that about my stuff.

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Re: Apostrophes

Postby Ice.Maiden » 09 Apr 2013, 20:06

This's obviously where editing and proofing needs to be done, and as we see with some e-Books, when it isn't, it reads confusingly or annoyingly.

A person doesn't have to be grammatically perfect for a story to be a good one - as you've shown - but thankfully there are people who'll put it right, and hopefully without removing too much of the original work. That's the bit that I wouldn't like. A sentence, or even an entire paragraph can be changed to read in a more acceptable or quicker way, but without actually altering what the text's conveying?

I'm sure that your own work has possibilities Gary, because for a start, you know enough about the business to know when something just isn't right. I'd have thought that you actually had a head start over many writers because of this. You understand what editors and proof readers (is that the word?) are looking for, so I hope that you manage to find the time to get one of your own books submitted very soon.
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Re: Apostrophes

Postby Kellemora » 10 Apr 2013, 08:39

The hardest part for me, and probably for most authors, is the rewriting phase.
When we are pounding out the first rough draft, getting the concept and throughline down is what is most important, at that stage of the writing. This is often done with spell check and grammar checkers turned off, so we are not distracted.
A second draft is not much better, we go through and change some of the wording, watch for redundancies, and with today's spell check we fix those things also. I never do a simple grammar check until I reach the final draft.
Then come the rewrite and revision stages. After about the third revision, we begin seeking betareaders and critiques.

Currently, it seems, most of those requesting critiques, are doing so before they have finished the draft mode. So you never know exactly what they want critiqued.
Because of working in the industry, things like Editing are not considered until after the Final Revision.
Most publishers use the same routine. Drafts, Revisions, Editing, Proofing, and Formatting.
Editing itself is broken down into sub-stages as well, ending with a full copyediting.

Proofing is often shifted to after Formatting for Indie Publishers making e-books.
Mainly because it means something else in digital than in print versions.

In Publishing: We have Proofs first, because this is a full read through of the galley, before the presses roll.
And in this case, Formats has to do with the type of finished books, hardback, paperback.

In e-Books: The final Edit would include a full read through.
Then the text would be Formatted into the various e-Book Formats.
Then you would Proof these conversions to make sure everything turned out as expected.

Now that paper publishers are also doing e-Books, and not wanting to change their file systems around for them.
They have added under the Formats file, sub-files for Proofing the conversions.

Seeing some of the present day books, published with so many errors in them, one wonders if they are proofed at all, hi hi.....

Ironically, the number of readers who don't know much about grammar, and can enjoy a book for its content, without being critical of grammar, are actually much higher than the number of readers who knows perfect grammar.

These folks are also the first to step forward as betareaders.

That can be both good and bad. Those who don't know grammar, are looking more at the throughline. And can tell you where something drags, or is unclear, or missing something.
Whereas those who are experts in grammar, miss problems with the throughline, because they are busy marking all of your grammatical errors. And those who side heavily on Literary Fiction, always want you to add more boring details, the ones you struck out to keep the plot moving forward, without bogging down the story.

Only 11 days until we go sailing to the Bahama's........

TTUL
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Re: Apostrophes

Postby Ice.Maiden » 10 Apr 2013, 12:26

Hello Gary,

After reading that, I wonder if I'm going wrong somewhere? I understand what you've said about all the processes which stories have to go through before they might, finally, become books, but ... I don't HAVE a re-writing phase.

When I write, it can be fast and furious to get my ideas down. Everyone reads back over what they've put, but I never find myself having to go back and correct entire chapters - or even paragraphs. On odd occasions, I might've added something that came to me during a non-writing moment, but this can be from simply finding a better word to use, or to correct a poorly-sounding sentence, but never huge swathes of it. It has to be amended at the time of actually writing, or very soon afterwards.

If, after reading the completed story, I'm not satisfied with it because I could've done it in another way - it's gone - dished. I simply can't get back into the thing once something's made me dislike it! How weird - but this's how I work. I've shelved several stories for this reason, but annoyingly threw away one which I NOW believe had possibilities. It's too late for me to resurrect it, because the first version can't be written in the same way, and with the strength of passion which I felt for it as I laboured away into the small hours. Still, the basic storyline's still there, so who knows?

*Seeing some of the present day books, published with so many errors in them, one wonders if they are proofed at all, hi hi.....* Yes, well this's what I was saying recently. I can't believe that the last two books that I partly read, were so poor in grammar and punctuation.

Children - and adults - learn by reading, Gary, so when glaring mistakes occur, someone with little grasp of the English language thinks that what they're seeing's right. I don't see how punctuating properly can possibly bog a story down? Whether it reads as it should or not, it's the actual story which keeps a reader interested, but to someone who was taught to read and write properly, it's very irritating to see something stand out at you that makes it wrong. You don't intentionally inspect every sentence, but you can't help but notice it.

I'm not sure about where you said: * .... the number of readers who don't know much about grammar, and can enjoy a book for its content, without being critical of grammar, are actually much higher than the number of readers who knows perfect grammar.* That suggests that most folk who read aren't well-up on their English, but I'd have disagreed with that. I've always found the opposite - that those don't enjoy English are the ones who tend to read LESS?

As I said before, a story can still be gripping, errors and all, but no one wants to read a sentence that you have to RE-read because there's no proper punctuation. I had to sit an English test before I started work, despite having top grades. There were several applicants on the day, and we were given an hour to go through these papers, answering questions and ticking correctly-put sentences, or adding punctuation where necessary.

I literally burst out laughing (in a very quiet room) when I came to one lot of questions. The sentences ran on, with no punctuation at all, or were wrongly punctuated, which made for amusing reading. Just two of us out of a roomful of people passed the test, and I was probably the youngest person there. Afterwards, we were told that this was a priority requirement for those working in the office where we were put, irrespective of some having had previous experience.

P.S) If I forget - I hope that you and your wife have the most fab holiday!
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Re: Apostrophes

Postby Kellemora » 11 Apr 2013, 11:27

Hi Icey

Writers often call rewriting their Editing phase.
We don't actually rewrite the entire book, just take out or change lines.
You know, get rid of the ing's, ly's, and the words was, would, had, were, very, but, etc.

I'm currently working on a little example of how we take a bland paragraph and give it some more excitement.
Using one of my own stories as an example. If I ever finish it, I will post it here.

One thing that I've always done, and it is considered the sign of an amateur, is to use different words after a dialog.
Now, I did this to prevent redundancy. Mainly because redundancy was beat into my head as a no no.....
However, in some areas, publishers want redundancy to the point it becomes unnoticed.
For example: John mused. Mary muttered. William teased. Robert commented. Joe chuckled. etc.
Whenever I do this, the copyeditor changes it all to: John said. Mary said. William said. Robert said. Joe said. etc.
Their reason. The word SAID become INVISIBLE to the Reader and does not detract from the throughline.
I'm sure they are right, but I still like the diversity.

I don't want to bore you to death with my WIP but I feel perhaps you should see how LOUSY my First Drafts really are. And how I rewrite to fix them for the Final Draft. However, the Final Draft is still Prior To going through the Revision Stage of the work.

This following is the first six paragraphs of the very first Rough Draft for a non-fiction story, exactly how it poured from my fingertips onto the keyboard.

*

It began to rain, Lady Buff ran to take shelter behind the latticed front stairs of Brother Matthew's art studio. From this vantage point, she could safely study all that was going on in her strange new territory. She felt safe, secretly tucked away where she couldn't be seen and curled up for a nap.

She awoke and watched carefully from her hiding place, as a brown robed figure in open-toed sandals, slowly climbed down the creaking stairs, awkwardly balancing trays and cups and bowls filled with all manner of foods. As he set down each feast, wild creatures of all types came running to him. "Why are they not afraid," thought Lady Buff to herself.

She stayed in hiding until the last of the creatures sauntered back into the woods. Then she carefully crept out of hiding, to see what morsels they may have left. After examining the trays, she thought to herself, "nothing here fit for queen."

She quickly dashed back behind the lattice-work as she heard the stairs creak once again. "What kind of person is this, that wears a much too long cord for a belt," she thought as she watched him fill the bird feeders from a bucket, "He looks safe enough, perhaps I should make my presence known to him."

Once he was back inside, seated behind his easel, Lady Buff climbed the stairs and watched him ever so carefully through the doorway. "Well, it's now or never," she thought to herself, as she struck up her most regal pose, to show off her long buff-blond fur, and casually strolled into Brother Matthew's studio.

Brother Matthew looked down at me and smiled, he then said softly "welcome to my studio, you look hungry, let me see what I can find here for you." He moved to stand, so I darted back out the door and down the stairs, but stayed where I could see him.

***

OK, now for how it reads in the Final Draft, which is still a long way from being finished. As you can see, it is considerably longer. Just in case it looses the indents, I added a space between the paragraphs.

*

Seeking shelter from an early morning rain, Lady Buff ducked behind the latticed front stairs of Brother Matthew’s art studio. From this vantage point, she studied the surrounding activities in her strange new territory. She felt safe, tucked away where she is unseen and after preening herself, she curled up for a nap.

Startled from her slumber by the sound of footsteps. With caution, she peered between the holes in the latticework. From her hiding place, she observed an ominous brown robed figure, wearing open toed sandals, inch down the creaking stairs. She stifled a chuckle at the awkward way he tried to balance trays and bowls filled with an assortment of foods. When he set down the feast, wild creatures of all types came running to him from the forest. “Why are they not afraid,” thought Lady Buff to herself.

She stayed in hiding as each flurry dined until they were happily filled. No sooner than they sauntered back into the woods, another troop would come to eat. After it appeared they had all finished, Lady Buff crept from her hiding place, to discover what morsels they may have left. After examining the bowls on the trays, she thought to herself, “nothing here fit for queen.”

She heard the stairs creak once again and dashed back behind the latticework. “What kind of person is this, that wears a much too long cord for a belt,” she pondered. She watched him fill the bird feeders from a bucket using a scoop. “He seems safe enough, perhaps I should make my presence known to him,” she considered.

Once Brother Matthew was back inside, seated behind his easel; Lady Buff climbed the stairs and studied him ever so carefully through the doorway. “Well, it’s now or never,” she quipped, as she struck up her most regal pose. She wanted to show off her long, buff-blond fur, and casually strolled into the studio.

#

Brother Matthew peered down at her and smiled, saying softly, “Welcome to my studio; you look hungry, let me see what I can find here for you.” He moved to stand, so I darted out the door and down the stairs. I stayed at the foot of the steps to keep a clear eye on him.

*****

FWIW: My editor would call even my Final Draft, nothing but garbage. I'm not keeping the story moving forward. Horrible grammar and lousy punctuation. However, he would probably like the storyline and let the editors make some recommendations for me to make corrections.

Because this is from a WIP, I'm including the notice.

Copyright © 2012 by Classic Haus Limited, L.C.

TTUL
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Re: Apostrophes

Postby Ice.Maiden » 11 Apr 2013, 19:10

Another interesting one.

So, am I right in saying that rather than use the words: pondered, spoke, remarked, etc., after dialogue, that the word "said's" more acceptable because the reader just reads through it? That amazes me. Let me give you an example using the word "said" continuously, and why I wouldn't do it.

"So you'd like me to deliver the brochures?" John said.
"If you're going that way," said Jean.
"That's fine by me," John said.
"Thank you for your help," said Jean.

Wouldn't that sound better if it was written thus:
"So you'd like me to deliver the brochures?" John asked.
"If you're going that way," Jean replied.
"That's fine by me," John said.
"Thank you for your help," Jean answered him.

OK., not a very good example really, but I was taught not to repeat words too closely together, whether after dialogue or not, as it makes it sound tedious.

Onto your rough and final drafts - yes, I can see how that works, and to me, the final draft DOES sound better
Keeping the story moving forward's all very well, but you haven't had chance to come to that part yet. The grammar's OK. If that was mine, I just wouldn't include the dialogue in the same paragraph as what comes before and after it. For example, I'd put:

Brother Matthew peered down at her and smiled, speaking softly.

"Welcome to my studio. You look hungry. Let me see what I can find here for you."

He moved to stand, so I darted out of the door and down the stairs, where I stayed at the foot of the steps to keep a clear eye on him.

In other words - new dialogue, new paragraph.

It's difficult to please someone all of the time. What's considered "correct" by the editor, might not be to another, and I personally think that you're right, and that your copy editor's slightly wrong about not using an array of words instead of "said" all the time. It's a good job that I'm not in your shoes when you produce something, because I'd have to stick to my guns about it! It's the same as repeating ANY word - and I'll use "it's" by way of another example.

If you put:

"It's wonderful to sit and watch the night sky, because it's nature at its best. It's always fascinated me, and it's the time of day when I feel relaxed. It's not to say that I don't like any other time, but it's wonderful in its stillness. It's perfect to me ....."

See how so many "it's", coupled with "its" makes it sound wrong? I think the rule follows for any word, and especially if every paragraph begins with the same one. The whole thing sounds out of place, and I can't agree with your copy editor. I'd keep the diversity - definitely!

Your rough draft wasn't bad, but as I said before, I don't do them. What springs to mind when I'm writing, is how it remains, apart from any minor mistakes or the use of a better word, as I said. The only time it'd enter my head to do a rough draft'd be if I thought of an excellent plot for a story, and thought I'd better make a note of it before I forgot - but it's never happened. I have things locked away in my mind, which I can bring back when needed, BUT, once I've actually started to expand on it and fill it in, as it were, if it doesn't come out right the first time, then that's it - cast to one side.

I find that dreaming about the story helps. I can do that, and remember it the next day, so all the work begins with a mental image of what I'm going to do. Sometimes I don't use the ideas for ages, some are scrapped and some I work on. I have to be in the right mood though. I think all would-be authors have "writing moods", and then times where there's a mental block. That's the time to take a rest in my opinion. If you make yourself write when you're not really ready to, it doesn't seem to come out right, and that's maybe the time when some people go back, delete whole passages and then produce something which they consider's better. It doesn't happen that way with me though. The second attempt's never as good as the first, so any alteration basically comes as I'm writing it.

I bet you grin your head off at me sometimes! You're far more of an expert than me, so I think maybe it's a good job that I'm not writing seriously yet, or everything'd end up in the bin! : )
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Re: Apostrophes

Postby Kellemora » 12 Apr 2013, 12:05

Hi Icey

Personally I prefer your latter example, with one exception. Jean answered him would sound better (to me) as Jean responded.

In normal dialog, we don't actually use the peoples names more than once per session. Especially if it a guy and gal, we just use; he said, she said, always in the he said, she said order.

As for as the final draft above, YES, all redundant words will be removed, especially the it, its, it's and was, and probably a whole lot more.

Just because I've been writing for years, don't mean I've actually learned much.
I have probably forgot more in 30 years than I ever learned, hi hi.....
Of ALL of the writers at Hachette, I have the worst grammar, albeit, I'm not the worst in punctuation. And you can laugh, but I'm the best at spelling. I may not catch a who's or whose, but I catch ALL of the spelling mistakes the machines miss.

What kills me are the "an" and "a" substitutions. I'm trying to come up with an example here, and none of them are getting flagged. Let's try this, (forget it, nothing is getting flagged on me today).
The point I wanted to make was that it will flag an "a" as being wrong, stating it was used before a consonant. Or it assumed a word was plural that wasn't. It has flagged the "a" and "an" I used in quotes, recommending I substitute the other. I just swapped the two in the opening sentence and now it shows them as OK. hi hi.....

I can't cut n paste the error message that comes up in the pop-up explaining why it flagged it as an error. But sometimes they are as phunny as all get out.
John bought his dog a SUV. (Here it says to change a to an)
John bought his dog an SUV.
John bought his dog a Blazer.
John bought his dog an Blazer. (Here it says to change an to a)
John bought his dog a Condominium.
John bought his dog an Condominium. (Here it says to change an to a, which is correct)
OK, bad examples, because it got them all right this time.
I'll have to save some of the wrong examples as I come across them.

I have things I've published on my web site, as a part of the web site.
That I really should FIX. I've overused words in many places.
I have the word "that" so many times in my Backstory article, even I cringe, hi hi.....

I'm just so used to writing for work, and letting THEM fix it, that I often don't catch my own redundancies.

Speaking of how you write. I used to Edit each paragraph as I wrote it. Sometimes only getting three paragraphs done in an entire session, because of it.
I would sit there and read and reread the same paragraph outloud until I had it sounding exactly the way I wanted it to sound.
A whole month may pass and I'm just getting to the end of Chapter One.
By then I've forgotten what was taking place and where I was going.

Being married to Ruth helped a lot when I was writing for Harlequin.
But I was still slower than molasses in the dead of winter.
Harlequin happened to have an editing office in St. Louis at that time.
Although I didn't learn about it for over 3 years of writing for them.
It's not under Harlequin, some weird name like Kimono or something like that.
In any case, I was asked to go down there and work in-house for one week.
No, let me rephrase that, I was TOLD I MUST go down there and work for one week, possibly longer.

This was the first time in my life I was ever introduced to writing from a topical outline.
I was quite pleased with what I submitted on my first day there.
I completed four whole scenes in the first chapter and could easily finish the topic of that chapter tomorrow.
Working from this type of outline was pretty much free reign work, my ideas, just stick to the topics.
The next day, I found out, they were not pleased, not even amused with me.
In the same amount of time it took me to write perhaps 300 words or less, they expected no less than 4,000 words.
They fully expected that I would be at least to the end of Chapter Four in one day, and be close to 30,000 words by the end of the week.

Although my boss was as grumpy as could be, he was also very nice at the same time.
He told me to forget I was writing a story. Then he pulled up a chair right next to me and sat down.
At first he said, OK, lets pound out this first topic. He scooted his chair behind me, so as not be a distraction.
I just watched, which did make me nervous. However, I only typed for less than three minutes before he stopped me.
He had me turn my chair around, away from the typewriter and face him.
He reached over me and picked up the outline sheet. And pointed to the first four topics under one of the chapters.
He then said, tell me in your words, in order, how you will handle these four scenes.
He did let me think about it for about 5 minutes while he went and got himself another monstrous cup of coffee.
He already knew I didn't drink coffee, so he pulled a boxed juice from the machine for me. I hate to say, one I didn't like, but I didn't say anything. Actually, it wasn't that bad, when you have someone facing you that you know could cost you your job.

We talked for at least another five minutes, before he said, what have you come up with.
By then, I had down pat in my head, exactly how I felt those topics should be handled and what should be covered in them.
It took me a whole 15 minutes to go through how I felt the story would play out. The more I talked, the more the old guy smiled at me while nodding his head, as if agreeing with me.
When I finished, he even said, excellent, I like how it rings true.

Orally, I had all the fine details in place, the plotline, the throughline and some possible dialogue to use.
And I told it convincingly to him too.

I was surprised when he told me to write it exactly the way I explained to him, how I planned it and presented it to him.
If I can say it, I can write it just as easily. And that's what I should be doing. Not trying to be clever or write a story, I'm supposed to be telling a story.
He stood up from his chair, reached over to the next desk and pulled out an audio tape and handed it to me. Then told me to change desks over to one that had a transcription machine on it. Since I helped Ruth with transcription and did some on my own, I didn't have to ask how to use a transcription machine. This sorta impressed him a little to. "You know how to work this machine?" Yes I do sir! Great! I want you to write exactly what you told me, no more no less, and make no corrections or rewording of what you said. Got It? Yes Sir, I understand.

After I went to all the trouble to transcribe what I said, verbatim, with no changes, even including the er's and um's, hi hi....
He came back a half hour later and said. OK, do it again, this time clean it up as you write, but don't think about changes. Just leave out anything you feel was unimportant or time spent stalling looking for the right words. In other words, speed it up.
I did as he asked, and he was back at my desk again in under 20 minutes. That was all it took for me to get done. I swear this guy had a sixth sense, as he appeared the minute I typed the last letter, each time.

Although I did rewrite the same thing twice, each copy was right around 900 words, the first taking a half hour, the second only 20 minutes. That was close to 1,800 words in about two hours time. No wonder they expected a minimum of 4,000 words per session.

He put it point blank to me. Your first draft should be an attempt to get the entire story concept down in one sitting, while the whole thing is fresh in your mind. Think of it more like writing all of your thought notes in order, add memory joggers if necessary, so you can fill in the finer details later. Think of it as a race against time if you have to. You need to tell the cop the entire accident scene in less than 5 minutes, or he will haul you down to the stationhouse, time is of the essence for your first chance at telling the story. Omit everything not pertinent in the first draft, but leave yourself a cue for later.

A second draft is almost like the first draft, only here you go back in and only add a few of the details, namely fill in where you only left yourself a memory jogger cue. Third draft you fill in more details and scratch things that don't work. Ect., etc., etc.
Your story is long from finished when you reach the final draft stage, it is still nothing but garbage, but at least now the whole story is there, and now ready to get a good polishing. Revision01 moves things around. Revision02 cleans up some of the grammar and redundancies. Revision03 is like a rewrite, heavy on the polishing. Reworking of sentences so they ring just right, etc.

In-house publishing is a whole lot different than writing for yourself.
They give you a topic to work from, sometimes a long outline to follow.
But they are not expecting a story yet. Their main goal is to see if the plotline is workable.
Is the throughline captivating enough to work on this concept further. Or should you change gears and try a different approach.
AFTER you hit a concept that is workable, with a captivating throughline, THEN you can build on it and create a second draft.
First drafts always stink, worse than a cesspool. And for in-house work, they are not meant to be a story, merely an idea for a story, like a storyboard gives only glimpses of key scenes. We leave cues for the fill-in scenes.

So, when you consider how I have been taught, and what my work entails, you can see why I have never had to bother about learning grammar. At least on what I do today. While I was with Harlequin, yes I had to do my own drafts and revisions until I had a presentable story that only needed editing before being published.
But since then, it was OK for my work to STINK, because they only needed the basic details. Then we worked together (other writers adding a bit here and there) building the story up. However, it then moves on to editors and rewriters and we may never see it again. It boils down to the pros finish what we started. Although, now that I've moved up the ladder a few rungs, I do get to work further along on my own stuff. Which is great, because I see and understand the changes being made and why they are made. I make notes of all the reasons I learn about. These have helped me considerably. But it hasn't improved my grammar one iota, hi hi.....

In fact: I wrote better in my Harlequin days than I do now!

TTUL
Gary
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Re: Apostrophes

Postby Ice.Maiden » 12 Apr 2013, 14:17

Oh bless!!! Fascinating.

Gary, forgive me saying so, but there's no need to keep saying about your grammar or whatever. It makes no difference to me, and I understand you perfectly - although as you've seen from examples of my replies, I'm not always very lucid when typing them! : )

With spell checks and stuff these days, I don't think it matters how you actually present the work. That can be corrected if necessary. It is, as you rightly say, more important that you can come up with good storylines and leave the editing to someone else.

Remembering where to put an "a" or "an" isn't so difficult really. As you pointed out, where the noun, or object, starts with a vowel, you're going to use "an". It wouldn't sound right if you said: "I'm going to have a egg for breakfast" - and yet some people speak like that anyway! : )

"John bought his dog an SUV" is an interesting one, because of course, the "an's" appropriate there. You're pronouncing it as ess, you, vee, not as a "suv". The English language's riddled with anomalies like that, but in the main, vowels are preceded by "an", such as "an identity parade". "A identity parade" stops the flow of pronunciation pretty harshly, so it's incorrect.

The amount of words which a person can type/write in a given time depends a lot on what the subject is. If you have to think about something, it's going to take longer anyway.

I write very long emails to some of my friends. This's because it sometimes takes a lot just to answer what THEY'VE put - and I haven't even got to my own news at that point, but it doesn't take me long at all. I can rattle off 8,000 words plus, scarcely pausing to think about it, but if I was writing a story, there might be pauses between paragraphs or chapters, because my mind's racing ahead trying to think of the best way to describe what's happening, so after the initial flourish, there's a break while I consider it. A recent letter to a good friend of mine'd reached 16 A4 sheets before I decided that enough was enough! However, if those 16 sheets'd been for a story, it might've taken me twice as long to get everything down, because you're not writing from memory or replying to something which jogs you along. You get a burst of inspiration, and then stop, until the next burst comes along.

I agree with you about reading your paragraphs over, and speaking them out to yourself as though you had an audience. That's the way to test if you've droned on too much, or if you might need to substitute words in order to convey something in a better way. We can all over-use words if we're not careful though. You just have to look at each bit, read it to yourself and see if you can delete a few of them.

I totally agree with you re. where you put: " Jean answered him would sound better (to me) as Jean responded". Responded, retorted - any number of verbs could be used, but I was just giving an example of how "said" might only be used once during conversation. In fact, had that been some dialogue in a real piece that I'd been writing, I would've expanded on it somewhat, and not even used those sentences, but it was a quick example of how we can eradicate the need for "said" all the time. I also think it depends on the length of the dialogue. To keep using "said", without adding maybe a description of the character's expression or action at the time of speaking, just doesn't gel within short sentences, but may sound alright if there's a piece of dialogue which covers a good few sentences, because the "said" fades into obscurity by the time you move on.

If that makes any sense! Ha! I actually feel sorry for you - or anyone else - trying to read through my posts on here, because I know what I mean to say, but it's not always expressed in the right manner. It's different when I write stories, however. I know what I'm going to put - and out it pours, but oddly, it's more concise ... not as waffling... so I wonder why my explanations/opinions manage to come out differently? : )

Read you soon Gary. Tablet time!
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