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Topics - ClintACK

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Writers' Corner / Odd conjunctions and other writing tics...
« on: October 13, 2015, 12:31:28 PM »
I just finished a reasonably good book the other day, but was irritated by a weird writing tic the author had of writing compound predicates with just a comma.

Example: "Chief Harper hunched his orange slicker up over his neck, wished he were somewhere else."

It feels like it should either be "and wished" or "wishing", and I had to read the sentence twice to get the meaning, which threw me out of the story.  And there were dozens of examples of this construction in the novel.

I started to look at my own writing for similar issues.  One that Word keeps throwing green-squiggly-lines at is my tendency to use "then" as a conjunction. 

Example: She did this, then did that.
Example: “Good guess,” she said, then pointed at his shirt. 
Example: She took a neatly folded linen handkerchief and a wet nap from her bag, then casually sliced open the heel of her hand with the knife.

How do these read?  Should I be writing, "She did this, and then did that."?

Writers' Corner / Exclamation Marks!!!!!!!!!!
« on: October 02, 2015, 05:09:15 PM »
Exclamation marks:  How many is too many?

In 54k words, I've used 7 exclamation marks.  Two are in text messages (both slightly ironic), five in quoted speech.  Looking them over, I removed two of those, leaving:
  • a "Hey!" that follows a fist being pounded on a table -- probably needs to go because it's cliche, but that's a different issue
  • an "-- Ow!" which interrupts speech when the speaker gets hit on the back of the head
  • and a "(name)!" when the speaker sees a friend has been seriously injured in an attack

Is this still too many?  Should I be trying to reduce even these?

(Elmore Leonard's famous rule is 2-3 !'s/100k words.)

Writers' Corner / Punctuation and text messages (in fiction)
« on: September 08, 2015, 06:52:41 PM »
So... I'm writing along in my new story, and my character receives a text message from a friend.  I realize I have no idea how to write that.  My character's about to have a text-message-dialog with his friend.   Do I set that off like normal dialogue, with new paragraphs and quotations, just replacing "said" with "texted"?  Do I indent the whole thing and write it in script format, like old-school phones?  Do I indent a bit with his friend's text left-justified and his text right-justified, like a modern phone??  Do I do it like reported/indirect dialogue, or italics, or bold, or...

I'm probably way overthinking this.

Or I should stick to writing SFF where no one has smart phones.  But where's the fun in that.

Today's quote from The Eye of Argon:

"Damn you, barbarian" Shrieked the soldier as he observed his comrade in death.

A gleaming scimitar smote a heavy blow against the renegade's spiked helmet, bringing a heavy cloud over the Ecordian's misting brain. Shaking off the effects of the pounding blow to his head, Grignr brought down his scarlet streaked edge against the soldier's crudely forged hauberk, clanging harmlessly to the left side of his opponent. The soldier's stead whinnied as he directed the horse back from the driving blade of the barbarian. Grignr leashed his mount forward as the hoarsely piercing battle cry of his wilderness bred race resounded from his grinding lungs. A twirling blade bounced harmlessly from the mighty thief's buckler as his rolling right arm cleft upward, sending a foot of blinding steel ripping through the Simarian's exposed gullet. A gasping gurgle from the soldier's writhing mouth as he tumbled to the golden sand at his feet, and wormed agonizingly in his death bed.

Grignr's emerald green orbs glared lustfully at the wallowing soldier struggling before his chestnut swirled mount. His scowling voice reverberated over the dying form in a tone of mocking mirth. "You city bred dogs should learn not to antagonize your better."

This is the second half of the battle from last week.


Today's quote from The Eye of Argon:
"Prepare to embrace your creators in the stygian haunts of hell, barbarian", gasped the first soldier.

"Only after you have kissed the fleeting stead of death, wretch!" returned Grignr.

A sweeping blade of flashing steel riveted from the massive barbarians hide enameled shield as his rippling right arm thrust forth, sending a steel shod blade to the hilt into the soldiers vital organs. The disemboweled mercenary crumpled from his saddle and sank to the clouded sward, sprinkling the parched dust with crimson droplets of escaping life fluid.

The enthused barbarian swilveled about, his shock of fiery red hair tossing robustly in the humid air currents as he faced the attack of the defeated soldier's fellow in arms.

This is an idea that grew out of the great links in  Hal Duncan edits the opening paragraph of 'The Eye of Argon' as well as another sentence, as concrete examples of how to think about paragraphs and sentences.

The idea is to take the quoted passage from 'The Eye of Argon', figure out what the author was trying to say and what the author was trying to do, and rewrite the passage to actually say that and do that better.  And then share your results for the amusement and edification of others.  Mostly amusement.

Example: (from the link at the link)
Spoiler for "Example":
A sweeping blade of flashing steel riveted from the massive barbarians hide enameled shield as his rippling right arm thrust forth, sending a steel shod blade to the hilt into the soldiers vital organs.

In the hands of Hal Duncan, this transformed step by step into:

From behind his leathered targe, steel flashed, brawn rippled, and the barbarian sank his blade in the soldier's guts, thrust it up to the hilt.

(Notes for the detail oriented: Yes, I know, the sentence Hal Duncan rewrote is in the passage above.  He rewrote the first paragraph, so I skipped that.  Then I took the next bit of text out to an appropriate stopping point.)

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