Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The English Language and Other Such Nonsense -- Guest Post

The English Language and Other Such Nonsense

Hello again!  So I haven’t actually written my 500 word story yet.  My life is busy.  

I have, however, been questioning the English language and wondering who thought of these crazy spelling rules.  I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure that while there are rules that go across the board for most languages, English has never heard of such an idea, and really likes to mess with people's heads.  I have a few questions for English majors and grammar nerds that I’ve thought up over time, and will now post here:

  1. Why do we say “insufficient” and “unsuitable”, if their prefixes both mean “not”?  Why don’t we just use one prefix instead of two?
  2. Will someone please explain “cough”, “through”, and “dough”?
  3. Why do we still insist on calling “i before e except after c” a law, even though the feisty heist on our weird beige foreign neighbor proved we never actually use it?
  4. If “disapproving” means “not approving”, does “dissenting” mean “not senting”?  
  5. This isn’t a question, but “regardless” means “not considering”, which means “irregardless” means “not not considering”, which means “considering”.  

There you have the questions that I’ve come up with so far.  Maybe I’ll have more later, but right now, I just want the answers to those three.  Does anyone else have any questions about the English language that they’d like answered?  I can’t do it, but maybe there is someone out there who can.

Now that’s out of the way, I can talk about....Camp Nanowrimo!  Yes, some of us like to torture ourselves and rack our brains to think of 20,000, or 30,000, or 50,000 words.  Right at the end of the school year.  I am failing epically.  I was waaaay ahead in the beginning, and now I’m waaaay behind.  It’s pretty sad.  I’ve been working on other things, and ignoring the story that I’m supposed to be writing.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this event, go ahead and look it up.  If you’re brave enough.  Believe me, there is nothing better for sorting the weak from the strong.

You might be wondering if I’m actually going to write anything about this month’s subject besides the fact that I haven’t started.  Well, technically speaking I’ve already done this month way back in January, because I wrote a 500 word story to begin this whole thing.  I’m going to say that it counts, and ignore the thousands of dissenting voices.  I’m also going to attempt to give some advice.  

  1. Have a clear idea of your story.  
It is very hard to condense something if you don’t know what you’re condensing.  Make an outline, draw a comic strip, anything to really make sure you know what you’re writing about.  
  1. Show, don’t tell.  
This is something I have problems with.  Use more describing words.  Lots of describing words.  Find words that describe the events using more than their meaning.  Use the sound of the word, and the image that it evokes.  
  1. Cut characters.  
You don’t have time for them.  You just don’t.  This is a minimalist story.  If you don’t need them, you don’t need them.  Take them out.  

So there you have it.  My advice.  If you want any more, I will be in my hobbit-hole, and tea is at four.  

~ Grace Weiser

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Plot Project Flopped

Alright, guys. We all know I’ve been having a rough time with keeping this blog up, and it’s time for a confession.

I’m discontinuing the challenge.

I know my writing partner is probably going to kick me, and hopefully those of you who were following this (if anyone is) isn’t too disappointed, but I just don’t have time this year. I have lots of other responsibilities and writing has to take a back seat. The very back seat. The caboose. The third class carriage. Etc. I’ll also be deleting all my stories from Wattpad and unsharing them with my friends because I don’t think they’re good enough to be public.

I’m also going to take a rocket to the moon and start a space colony.

This is also an April Fools’ Day post.

Ta-daa!!!! I’ve always wanted to do one of those. On to the real post.

Well, this is April, and you know what that means -- CAMP NANO!!!!! For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, NanoWrimo is an event that takes place in November. For thirty days, participants attempt to bang out the first draft of a 50,000 word novel. Camp Nano happens twice -- once in April and once in July -- and is basically NanoWrimo on a smaller scale. Participants can set their own word count goals and don’t have to write a novel -- they can work on poetry or a dissertation or (ahem) a short story collection (ahem). My personal word count goal is 30,000, and I’m working on a sci-fi novel. I don’t expect it to be completed by the end of the month, but I do expect to have the first 30,000 words written.

It’s pretty convenient, therefore, that the short story prompt for April is only 500 words. I’ve tried writing short stories like this before, and they are not as easy as you’d think. I can write 500 words in half an hour, true, but in editing you have to make make every word count. Here’s a few tips on how to make that happen.

  1. Delete filler words, specifically “that.” You have no idea how many times we use “that” when we don’t have to. I learned this one in Journalism class.
  2. Take out ALL the adjectives! Yeah, I know, adjectives are fun, and you’ll probably have some in your final draft. But copying your first draft to another document and removing all the adjectives roots out words you don’t need.
  3. Use active verbs! This is a good tip in general, but especially when you’re watching your word count. “The dog chased the fire engine” is shorter than “The fire engine was chased by the dog.”

Today’s post is short, but it’s April. Go play in the sun. Then write.