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Written By: Roger

This is a great place to add resources that fellow writers can use. Things like reference books, web sites, publishers, reviews, opinions on the craft, etc.

5 Comments

  1. Roger says:

    ESSENTIAL VS. NONESSENTIAL PHRASES

    (The indented material and some of the examples are from The Gregg Reference Manual, Ninth Edition, William A. Sabin. Other examples are from The Little, Brown Handbook, Ninth Edition, Pearson/Longman )

    The comma has two main functions: it sets off nonessential expressions that interrupt the flow of thought from subject to verb to object or complement, and it separates elements within a sentence to clarify their relationship to one another. (Often, two commas are needed to set off.)

    The following will discuss the only the first function. Note: Some grammarians use the terms essential and nonessential; however, restrictive and nonrestrictive are, respectively, the same.

    If you can leave out the expression without affecting the meaning or the structural completeness of the sentence, the expression is nonessential and should be set off by commas.

    INTERRUPTING ELEMENTS:

    NONESSENTIAL: There is, no doubt, a reasonable explanation for his behavior at the board meeting.

    ESSENTIAL: There is no doubt about her honesty. (Without no doubt, the structure of the sentence would be incomplete.

    NONESSENTIAL: Elizabeth Blackwell, who published books on medicine, practiced pediatrics and gynecology.

    ESSENTIAL: Physicians who sought to relieve their patients’ pains recommended chewing willow bark.

    TRANSITIONAL OR PARENTHETICAL ELEMENTS: (These transitional elements include words such as: however, therefore, on the other hand, for example, of course, etc. Parenthetical elements include: surprisingly, fortunately, in other words, to be frank, etc.)

    NONESSENTIAL: We are determined, nevertheless, to finish on schedule.

    NONESSENTIAL APPOSITIVES: (An appositive is a noun or noun substitute that renames another noun just before it.)

    NONESSENTIAL: Toni Morrison’s fifth novel, Beloved, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. (Note that the title in this case is not essential, because NO OTHER BOOK could be her FIFTH novel. Compare this sentence with the next.)

    ESSENTIAL: Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye is about an African American Girl who longs for blue eyed.

    ANOTHER ESSENTIAL EXAMPLE: The critic Michiko Kakutani says that Morrison’s work “stands radiantly on its own as an American epic.” (Do you see why “Michiko Kakutani” is NOT an appositive for “the critic”?)

    OTHER INSTANCES TO SET OFF ELEMENTS:

    Yes and no
    Yes, the editorial did have a point.

    Tag questions
    They don’t stop to consider others, do they?

    Afterthoughts
    Send us your check as soon as you can, please.

    Direct address (note: second example gets two commas)
    Cody, please bring me the paper.
    Please, Cody, bring me the paper.
    Please bring me the paper, Cody.

    Mild interjections
    Well, you will never know who did it.

    Phrases expressing contrast (note: second example gets two commas)
    The essay needs less wit, more pith.
    The substance, not the style, is important.
    Substance, unlike style, cannot be faked.

  2. Roger says:

    Before a noun, the general word order for adjectives is:

    Opinion, size, shape, condition, age, color, pattern, origin, material, purpose.

    Opinion (Attitude/Observations)
    Delicious, lovely, nice, cool

    Size (Can include height)
    Big, small, tall, huge, tiny

    Shape (Shape/Weight/Length
    Round, square, long, fat

    Condition (Condition/State)
    Clean, wet, rich, hungry

    Age (How old is it?)
    Old, young, new, antique

    Color (self-explanatory)
    Green, blue, reddish, yellowish-orange

    Pattern (Pattern/Design)
    Spotted, checked, flowery, zigzag

    Origin (Where is if from)
    American, British, German, Australian

    Material (What is it made of?)
    Gold, wooden, plastic, synthetic

    Purpose (What is it used for?)
    Gardening, shopping, riding


    Here’s a neat trick I learned from one of my professors at FSU to determine nominative or objective case of pronouns. (In other words, when do you use “he” or “him”; or “she” or “her”; or “I” or “me.”)

    Nominative case pronouns are:
    I, you, he, she, it, we, they

    Objective case pronouns are:
    Me, you, him, her, it, us, them

    You want to determine which sentence is correct:
    Him and I rode a horse.
    Or
    He and I rode a horse.

    Substitute “we” and “us” and your ear will tell you which one is correct:
    We rode a horse. (Yup, sounds right.)
    Or
    Us rode a horse. (No, that’s wrong!)

    If you look at the list above, “we” is a nominative pronoun, so “he” is correct. (He and I rode a horse.)

    Here’s another example:
    It is I.
    Or
    It is me.

    Substitute “we” and “us” into these sentences:
    It is we. (No.)
    Or
    It is us. (Yes.)

    “Us” is in the objective case, so the proper pronoun would be “me.” (It is me.)

    Silly, but it works every time!

    Thanks for listening!
    Louise

  3. Roger says:

    1. Does the opening capture the reader’s interest and imagination?
    2. Does the story contain a mix of sentence lengths and types?
    3. Have you revealed time passing?
    4. Do your scenes contain a variety of emotions?
    5. Have you foreshadowed major events?
    6. Do the scenes contain emotional reversals and other changes?
    7. Have you included sequels (a calming time after an emotional event>?
    8. Do scenes and chapters end with thrusters and cliffhangers that push the story ahead?
    9. Have you trimmed unnecessary transitions?

  4. Roger says:

    Seven rules for punctuating dialogue:
    1. Put all dialogue in quotation marks:
    “The view from here is beautiful.”
    2. When a quote is a complete sentence without attribution (a speech tag), you should insert a period INSIDE the quotation marks at the end of the sentence:
    “The mountains are spectacular.”
    3. If a complete sentence is attributed to a speaker (i.e., if it has a speech tag), insert a comma INSIDE the quotation marks and put a period after the dialogue tag. Remember that speech tags are ALWAYS a part of the sentence—they never stand alone:
    “The view from here is beautiful,” he said.
    4. If a speech tag is in the middle of a sentence, put the comma inside the first set of closing quotation marks AND after the speech tag:
    “Ever since this morning,” he said, “my allergies have been driving me crazy.”
    5. If your quotation ends with a question mark or exclamation point, put it INSIDE the quotation marks. Your speech tag will still be lower case and will end with a period:
    “Did you remember the bug spray?” she asked.
    6. If you introduce the dialogue, insert a comma before the opening quotation marks and start the quotation with a capital letter:
    She asked, “Did you remember the bug spray?”
    7. If your character is speaking and the dialogue goes on for more than one paragraph, don’t use closing quotation marks. When the new paragraph begins, use opening quotation marks. Use closing quotation marks only when the character is finished speaking completely:
    “I’ve never seen such a beautiful log cabin,” Blair said. “When I was younger, I used to go to a cabin in the woods in New Hampshire and spend the holidays there with my family. It was freezing cold at night, but no one cared.
    “Actually, this cabin brings back another memory too: my first trip to Iceland. That cabin was stuck in the middle of nowhere, much like this one.”

  5. Roger says:

    Here’s a neat trick I learned from one of my professors at FSU to determine nominative or objective case of pronouns. (In other words, when do you use “he” or “him”; or “she” or “her”; or “I” or “me.”)

    Nominative case pronouns are:
    I, you, he, she, it, we, they

    Objective case pronouns are:
    Me, you, him, her, it, us, them

    You want to determine which sentence is correct:
    Him and I rode a horse.
    Or
    He and I rode a horse.

    Substitute “we” and “us” and your ear will tell you which one is correct:
    We rode a horse. (Yup, sounds right.)
    Or
    Us rode a horse. (No, that’s wrong!)

    If you look at the list above, “we” is a nominative pronoun, so “he” is correct. (He and I rode a horse.)

    Here’s another example:
    It is I.
    Or
    It is me.

    Substitute “we” and “us” into these sentences:
    It is we. (No.)
    Or
    It is us. (Yes.)

    “Us” is in the objective case, so the proper pronoun would be “me.” (It is me.)

    Silly, but it works every time!

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