#Quote of the Week

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968)

#Writing: THE RULES vs. STYLE CHOICES

#amwriting #grammar #style #rules

In the past few weeks, I’ve seen too many articles that propound “THE RULES of Writing”. An overabundance, if you will, most of which don’t make any distinction between THE RULES and STYLE CHOICES.

THE RULES are universal. For instance:

– a sentence must have a subject and a verb;
– the subject and verb must agree;
– participles should not dangle;
– a sentence may have only one viewpoint: it cannot start out in first person and end in third;
– Etc., etc., etc.

It’s possible for a good writer to break THE RULES occasionally, but s/he must realize what s/he is doing in order for it to be effective. The universal RULES of writing can be found in any reputable GRAMMAR guide; one I like is Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (OWL).

Anything above and beyond the universal RULES is a STYLE CHOICE:

– No adverbs? Style choice;
– No compound sentences? Style choice;
– No words over three syllables? Style choice;
– No dialogue tags but “said” and “asked”? Style choice;
– Etc., etc., etc.

STYLE CHOICES are found in “Style Guides” and are not universal rules. I, for one, would be much more apt to appreciate their advice if the guides followed these so-called “rules” in their own publications. But, almost universally, they don’t. More scholarly types than I have proven that even the ubiquitous Elements of Style by Strunk & White has broken most of the “rules” it espouses. Go ahead, try to count the adverbs in any guide that propounds “no adverbs”. Count the passive verbs in a guide that propounds “no passive verbs”. It’s almost impossible to write fiction (or to write about fiction) and follow these strictures at all times.

(Of course, there are many who get around the “no adverbs” stricture by substituting an adverbial phrase — eliminating an adverb like “tremulously” in favor of a phrase like “in a tremulous voice”. To me, that’s worse, as it adds empty words to the story.)

Adding to the confusion is that, in the history of literature, STYLE CHOICES are transitory. No one writes like Chaucer any more; few write like Faulkner or Austen. The current trend toward starkness and simplicity will no doubt be as short-lived.

Now, I’m not saying that STYLE CHOICES are wrong. On the contrary, each writer should make these choices for him- or her-self. If you want to use smaller words and shorter paragraphs, you are perfectly free to do so. But that doesn’t put writers who use longer words or longer paragraphs in the wrong. Or longer words and shorter paragraphs. Or longer paragraphs… or whatever.

Touting your own STYLE CHOICES to the world at large as “rules” is akin to attempting to convert someone to your religion, and my best advice there is “Don’t do it!”

You and your writer friends will both be happier with the outcome.

 

P.S. Can you find which of the RULES stated above is broken rule in this article? How many times has it been broken?

Don’t Let History Repeat

The future is in our hands …

Laura Brown

As a Jewish person. As a disabled person. As a woman. I am scared. I grew up learning about my history—my past—the Holocaust. I thrived on the words: Never Again. I couldn’t fathom how someone like Hitler came into power, how so much hate could prevail.

I still can’t, and I’m watching it happen all over again. Parts of my family tree remain a question mark, and we can safely guess they died in concentration camps. Parts of my family, millions of my people, wiped out for nothing more than being part of our religion.

And now we are attacking different races. Religions. Sexuality. Genders. Disabilities. Now people are being told to go home, when the only ones who deserve to stay are the natives, and they are treated the worst out of all groups. Whites, you don’t own this land. You are immigrants, just like most of us. You…

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1998 – Paddy Clancy, Irish folk musician dies.

A great singer with a great song…

Stair na hÉireann - History of Ireland

Paddy Clancy, was an Irish folk singer best known as a member of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. In addition to singing and storytelling, Clancy played the harmonica with the group, which is widely credited with popularising Irish traditional music in the United States and revitalising it in Ireland. He also started and ran the folk music label Tradition Records, which recorded many of the key figures of the American folk music revival.

Clancy was one of eleven children and the eldest of four boys born to Johanna McGrath and Bob Clancy in Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary.

Clancy died at home of lung cancer at the age of 76. He was buried, wearing his trademark white cap, in the tiny village of Faugheen, near Carrick-on-Suir.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilis.

‘The Wild Rover’

I’ve been a wild rover for many’s the year
I’ve spent all me money…

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The Mountains of Mourne

#amwriting #IrishMusic

Written by Percy French in 1896, The Mountains of Mourne shows us a somewhat naive and gullible Irish lad who finds himself in London for the first time. It’s a charming song, not without humor and self-deprecation. You can hear a version of it by Irish Mist here.

THE MOUNTAINS OF MOURNE

Oh, Mary, this London’s a wonderful sight
With people here working by day and by night;
They don’t sow potatoes, nor barley nor wheat,
But there’ gangs of them digging for gold in the streets.
At least when I asked them that’s what I was told,
So I just took a hand at this diggin’ for gold.
But for all that I found there I might as well be
Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.

I believe that when writin’ a wish you expressed
As to how the fine ladies in London were dressed,
Well, if you believe me, when asked to a ball,
Faith, they don’t wear no top to their dresses at all.
Oh, I’ve seen them myself and you could not in trath
Say if they were bound for a ball or a bath!
Don’t be startin’ them fashions now, Mary Macree,
Where the mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.

I’ve seen England’s king from the top of a bus,
And I’ve never known him, but he means to know us.
And tho’ by the Saxon we once were oppressed,
Still I cheered, God forgive me, I cheered with the rest.
And now that he’s visited Erin’s green shore,
We’ll be much better friends than we’ve been heretofore.
When we’ve got all we want, we’re as quiet as can be,
Where the mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.

You remember young Peter O’Loughlin, of course,
Well, now he is here at the head of the force!
I met him today, I was crossing the Strand,
And he stopped the whole street with a wave of his hand.
And there we stood talkin’ of days that are gone
While the whole population of London looked on.
But for all these great powers he’s wishful like me
To be back where the dark Mourne sweeps down to the sea.

There’s beautiful girls here, oh, never you mind!
With beautiful shapes nature never designed,
And lovely complexions all roses and cream,
But O’Loughlin remarked with regard to the same
That if at those roses you venture to sip,
The colours might all come away on your lip!
So I’ll wait for the wild rose that’s waitin’ for me
Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.

St. Martin’s Minotaur/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition

Unpublished Mystery Writers, take heed!

Cindy's Notebook

smedhead-e1371623899716St. Martin’s Minotaur/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition is open to any writer, regardless of nationality, aged 18 or older, who has never been the author of any Published Novel (in any genre), as defined by the guidelines below, (except that authors of self-published works only may enter, as long as the manuscript submitted is not the self-published work) and is not under contract with a publisher for publication of a novel.

All Manuscripts submitted must be original works of book length (no less than 220 typewritten pages or approximately 60,000 words) written in the English language.

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3 Simple Ways to Win the Argument With Your Inner Critic

Some great advice for that “inner critic”…

A Writer's Path

professor-1687862_640

by Lauren Sapala

If you’re an artist or a writer—or both—then you know what I’m talking about when I say “inner critic.” It’s not just a way of describing a tendency toward self-judgment. For us, the inner critic is a loud, nasty, disgusting creature who invades our thoughts, whips us mercilessly, and sometimes decides to chain us up in the dungeon.

That might sound extreme, but if you’re an artist or a writer, you know how accurate that description is.

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