Monday: Tidbit

Grammar TidbitIf you care to be grammatical with “like” and “as though,” remember this mini-rule: Like a Pig, As Though I Were a Pig.

What does this mean?640px-Lionking-disneyscreencaps.com-5902

The word “like” requires a noun or pronoun. Like a boss, like a llama, like an idiot . . . you get it.

The phrases “as if,” “as though,” and the like (don’t hit me) require a verb of some kind. As if I were a king, as though I were a llama, as if the idiot became wise.

This page is very helpful.

Have a grammar peeve you’d like others to finally learn? Send your tidbit, name, and web-space to Blog@CiceroGrade.com!

 

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Friday: Writing Rules

Writing Rules

1. Dialogue should be brief.

2. It should add to the reader’s present knowledge.

3. It should eliminate the routine exchanges of ordinary conversation.

4. It should convey a sense of spontaneity but eliminate the repetitiveness of real talk.

5. It should keep the story moving forward.

6. It should be revelatory of the speaker’s character, both directly and indirectly.

7. It should show the relationships among people.

Elizabeth Bowen

What are your writing rules? Do they fit under Cicero Grade‘s Rule One?

Friday: Showcase

Showcase

DuoTrope‘s great, but what happens when the free trial runs out? It’s okay. No one will call you the hipster word, here. Well anyway, if you can’t afford a subscription, you might want to consider The Grinder. They update their markets daily and help writers keep track of where their submissions have gone. If you’re writing to publish, this is a great link to have!

What links, as a writer, do you use or recommend? Do you prefer DuoTrope or The Grinder? Let us know in the comments below!

Wednesday: A Call to Edit

Call To Edit

Often, mid-edit, I’ll pick up on a pattern of overuse or misuse. I’ll have to go back through the story and edit all of the instances of overuse or misuse that I’m newly aware of. Today, we’re talking about misuse with Tyler Vendetti‘s list of commonly misused words!

One word I’m particularly embarrassed about misusing is when I used “pour” for “pore,” as in, “He poured over ancient tomes.” As soon as I learned I was wrong, I corrected it: He pored over ancient tomes.

I’m sure we’ve all misused one of these. I’m a little confused about 3, but I guess that happens. Oh, and my aunt is particularly fond of using 7. Ahem. Click on the picture to see this words list on Hello Giggles!

Wednesday: Before Editing and After

Before Editing and After

Before Editing and After highlights writing that may not be bad originally, but that has improved after Cicero Grade’s suggestions. Sometimes we stumble upon writing somewhere on the Internet and offer a few suggestions to the author privately. The piece is available to the public (at least at the time of publication here), and we never post more than a few lines. If the authors change the availability of their piece, or they ask we take down their writing here, we will do so. It is meant as a learning tool.

We thank Anonymous for sharing a bit of her prologue.

Before:

Sniffing, I could smell the sweet perfume she wore. Glancing around the corner, she appeared into my line of vision. A pretty girl, with sun-blonde hair pulled tightly back. She stared over her shoulder, as if something was lurking in the shadows. A hint of fear spread in her eyes.
And fear was what I enjoyed the most.

After:

I could smell her sweet perfume. She didn’t see me when she glanced around the corner, and she walked on, peeking over her shoulder. She was pretty–young and blonde–but that wasn’t why I chose her; it was in her eyes, spreading to her beating heart, to her clutching hands, to her quick steps.

It was fear.

How would you have rewritten it? Put your answers in the comments below!

Would you like a free paragraph-edit? To be featured in Before Editing and After, send your passage of up to 150 words (along with your name and a link to your webspace) to Blog@CiceroGrade.com. Thanks!

Monday: Tidbit

Grammar Tidbit

Does your writing tend to be more formal than conversational? Even if it’s on the casual end of the style spectrum, don’t you aim to keep everything grammatically sound enough to clearly convey your messages?

Sometimes we write the way we speak, whether that’s intentional or just the product of writing on a roll. When this happens, we can say something we don’t quite realize is confusing. Take the word “only,” for example:

I only have 100 updates because I just restored this computer.

That’s a bunch of updates! This line is almost nonsensical; it helps that there is no comma, which points us in the right direction, but in effect, the speaker is coming across as nonchalant about the number of updates. What do you mean only a hundred updates? That isn’t the message he means to convey at all!  What he means is this:

I have 100 updates only because I just restored this computer.

Now we’re understanding! See how the placement of “only” made us misconstrue the line? While this can be fine in dialogue (it is, after all, the way people speak), narrative has to be cleaner. Make sure you position “only” right where it needs to be to modify the correct idea. Otherwise, readers could make many bizarre interpretations of a very simple thought!

Have a grammar peeve you’d like others to finally learn? Send your tidbit, name, and web-space to Blog@CiceroGrade.com!

Friday: Tips

Logo

The truth about Mary-Sue is she doesn’t lurk in only fan-fiction. She is published daily by beginning and veteran writers all across Internetdom. She possesses the protagonist of many a novel-in-progress, and the author may not even know it.

You cannot know that you have one if you don’t know what she is, so I’m going to put it in the simplest terms I can: Mary-Sue is a character who is indisputably admired because the author will never let her be wrong. To expand on that, the Mary-Sue is an unrealistic ideal, a pawn of a character who serves only to act out the dreams of the author, or Suethor.

If the Suethor wants to be a cheerleader, for example, Mary-Sue is the prettiest, peppiest, and fittest cheerleader – also captain – who is the only one on the squad to get every single person in the stadium to chant along (even the people rooting for the other team)! She already has a full scholarship for cheering (is that even a thing?) and probably will get onto the Dallas Cowboys’ cheer lineup when she effortlessly performs the best routine that anyone has ever seen, ever. Oh, also they’ll just make her the captain automatically, so she’ll be the youngest, prettiest, peppiest cheerleader the world has ever seen.

This concept is taking form, you say, but how can you tell if you have a Mary-Sue infection without reading the entire damn book? The simplest indicator is other characters’ reactions to Mary’s actions, beliefs, or even presence. Typically, characters of Mary-Sue’s gender will assume a sidekick-type role, wherein they admire every little thing about Mary-Sue (or Gary-Stu), even if he or she has no way to realistically take credit for that thing (You have perfect earlobes! -or- You’re the best lifter here!).

Opposite-sex characters are automatically romantic-interests. They appreciate Mary-Sue as if they were always meant to be together, and no matter her actual attractiveness and charm, her fan-boys will drool over the very thought of escorting her to her locker. They are protective of Mary-Sue, who inspires obsessive chivalry among her fans and bitter envy among her acquaintances.

Every admirer’s dialogue at some point serves as the cheap disguise for the author, who sneaks some justification and approval of Mary-Sue’s actions: “You said you weren’t any good at planning parties!” or “I thought you’d be horrible at karaoke, but you’re even better than Cecelia, and she’s been singing since she was twelve!”

Do you think you might have a Mary-Sue? What do you consider the most offensive Mary-Sue characteristic? Is the “My Immortal” story a fake? What books or movies have a Mary-Sue? Discuss in the comments below!