Thursday, March 25, 2010

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Grammar-licious: Making Grammar Fun - March

I’m skipping the introduction this month. If you’re curious about previous grammar columns please check out the blog archives.

The introduction is being skipped this month. The blog archives can be checked for previous grammar columns.

You’ve probably just done a double take. The first two paragraphs are similar. Other than being repetitious, can you pick out which of the two paragraphs above contains active voice? Which one moves you right along? Which one has you yawning?

This month we’re investigating the difference between active voice and passive voice. It’s common to hear the rule ‘avoid passive voice.’ If you’re a writer, it’s a good rule to follow if you want to keep your reader engaged. There are times, however, when passive voice is fine. Really. Read on.

Active voice is dynamic and the ‘doer’ of the action is obvious. Passive voice is, well, laid back and can leave questions in the reader’s mind as to who is doing what. The time to use passive voice is when you want to emphasize results and not necessarily who achieved those results.

Check out the following examples and see what you think (passive is listed first).

The ball was kicked.
Jim kicked the soccer ball.

The bus was driven by Mr. Smith.
Mr. Smith drove the empty bus into a house.

The project was managed effectively.
Ted and his team brought the project in under budget and ahead of schedule.

The computer was repaired.
I fixed my computer.

The following are examples of where you may find passive voice to be the preferred voice:

My advice was followed.
My students followed my advice.

The water was heated to 195 degrees.
Tom heated the water to 195 degrees.

The grocery store was robbed.
Unknown persons robbed the grocery store.

The overall rule for choosing active or passive is to use what best says what you mean.

This month’s recommended grammar book is: The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation by Jane Straus.

I like finding ways to remember the ‘rules’ and hope you can find something helpful. It’s my hope the monthly grammar techniques and usage examples will make grammar a lot less frightening and potentially enjoyable (can you imagine?) for you.

If you have grammar topics you’d like to see covered, please leave a comment or email me!

(originally published in The TWC Spotlight for February,2009)

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What Makes a Writer Successful?

I'm willing to bet that if I ask twenty people what makes a writer successful, I'll get twenty answers. For some it's the money: how many copies were sold, how much money did they get, how big was that advance (if at all). You see this reflected a lot in ads proclaiming an author sold 'three million copies sold world-wide'. You also see it in the applications of many writer's organizations. You have to have their idea of success in terms of "professional" sales, which means the money. You have to wonder what percentage of the success there is actually the writer and how much is the marketing/sales departments. If the higher percentage is the writer, it seems a disservice almost to base their success on dollars. True, money is easily measurable where talent is harder to compare.

Other writers define their success based on how much they write a day, how many stories are in submission in relation to those accepted or rejected for publication. Some write for the love of words. Many write because they have something they want to say to the world: a message to get out there; something inspirational or righting a wrong. Some just want to entertain....jokingly say they want to see who can tell the biggest lies or get the biggest laughs. Some write to keep their demons at bay.

Perhaps I'm jaded but I don't see letting anyone but yourself define your success--writer or otherwise. If what you're doing makes you happy and doesn't harm anyone, then it's successful. For me, I love writing and publishing. I've found my place and though I work hard, I'm loving every second of it. To me that's the biggest and best success there is. It wasn't easy getting here and I didn't always make the right choices. It's so very true that when you love what you do, it isn't work at all. That's success!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

101 Habits of Highly Effective Writers

There's a wonderful article/blog post that talks about 101 Habits of Highly Effective Writers for recommended habits "from all types of writers–from fiction to non-fiction and famous to lesser-known–and all offer great advice."

Broken into the following categories, there is something for everyone: Routine, The Process, Style, Inspiration, Improving Your Craft, Business, Habits You Don't Want to Have, Advice From Writers, and Habits of Famous Writers.

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