Thursday, January 27, 2011

New Blog Design Inspired by Fleeing Babies. And bats.

I've read to my minions The Day the Babies Crawled Away until the cover is loose and torn and we all have the words memorized.  It's their number one bedtime book.

In "The Day," my favorite children's author Peggy Rathmann features silhouetted babies rolling along with bats and butterflies that tumble and fall during their adventures climbing through cave and cliff. But all's well that ends well, and the babies return unscathed to eat pie and sip sugared tea with their worried mothers, en silhouette.

And don't we all love a happy ending?

Nathans' Sort of Semi Annual First Paragraph Challenge

Wow.  Amazingness!  Nathan Branford is running his sort of annualish first paragraph challenge contest on his blog.  I love him. It ends today and has over 1,300 entries, which is a lot of words--and a lot of writers.  If you haven't entered, mosey on over there; it ends today at 4 p.m. PST.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Great Semi-colon Debate, Part Deux: Sponsored in Part by Punctuation Man

I love the semi-colon. At least, I used to.

The semi-colon and I have had a long relationship combining related ideas with seamless ease. If you're trained as a technical writer or print journalist, like me, you've used this happy wink-shaped mark in your writing with little thought. But I've come to agree with many writers that the venerable semi-colon has no place in fiction.

My final draft of my WIP is all about strengthening voice. After reading about the semi-colon debate, and learning how some writers tightened up their scenes by reducing said punctuation mark, I re-wrote some passages of my WIP, replacing semi-colons with periods and rewriting for clarity and editing thusly.

And guess, what?  It worked. The action is bolder. It flows and better yet, the words move: especially in action scenes in which I am striving for conflict and suspense.

Master of suspense author, James Scott Bell, writes on his blog, "When it comes to fiction, I think of semi-colons the way I think of eggplant: avoid at all costs."  Well, I do love me some eggplant, but I agree with Bell's premise and as Bell continues, he quotes Vonnegut. "Here is a lesson in creative writing.  First rule:  Do not use semicolons.  They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing.  All they do is show you've been to college."  Heh-heh. Harsh, but right.  Did you know, by the way, Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, which is close to my hometown?  Bet he would have been a Colts fan.

Punctuation Man is coming to get you, and your semi-colons.

So there you have it, or perhaps you don't if you've kicked the semi-colon to the curb. How do you feel about the semi-colon and do you use this form of punctuation in your fiction?  I, for one, will continue my "find and replace" and search and destroy all lurking semi-colons like a crazed zombie in the Walking Dead; however, I will continue to use the helpful little punctuation tag in my non-fiction writerly pursuits.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Shakespeare's Twilight and What Happens When a Bard Loosens his Jeggings

This weekend was all about getting my Shake on at Navy Pier during a hilarious adaptation of As You Like It.  Of all his plays, I think William Shakespeare's As You Like It is by far the easiest to understand and most relaxed.  In the play, what happens in the forest stays in the forest . . . life is simpler: commoners and gentry share their food and their devotion without identity concerns while donned in organic rags or damask jodphurs and tight bustiers.  It's frivolous and absurd, with more plot holes than Swiss Lorraine--almost as if the Bard threw up his lace decorated cuffs and said, "Fine, sirrah. Whatever. Do you desire then that the gods had made me light?"

Light. Sort of silly but that's exactly how Shakespeare planned the play of charm, a play so 
artificial that no one could be expected to take it seriously.  The Bard knew audiences prefer, above everything else, to be gently and good-humoredly amused.  Of course, it's possible to raise an eyebrow at the implausibility of most of the characters and especially the lovely Rosalind, who "hides" her beauty as a man--wink wink--and goes quietly into the night and into the Forest of Arden cross-dressed as a gentleman to protect her exiled BFF.

Sure, in AYLI the amazingly famous quotes are tucked therein including, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players," and the lesser quoted but one of my favorites: "Do you not know I am a woman? When I think, I must speak" ( insert smiley here).  But with AYLI, Bill lets down his ironed and curled hair and loosens his laced back jeggings. Entwined with a sprinkle of angst and squirmy scenes like the novel Twilight and its vampires who sparkle, all the blemishes throughout are calculated to produce smiles of a happy reader and audience, but forsake me not. I'm not comparing the luminous Bard's words with those of Stephenie Meyer's. I am, however, comparing the intent: to compel and entertain, and both do this well.
Perhaps we have something to learn from both famed scribes; as writers, playwrights and authors, we're all one in entertaining the masses. But Bill S. dazzled us first, and I think he did it best.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Frost and Paint on a Morning's Drive.

"Frostilated," is how my little minion described the snow and ice that clung to limb and branch and bud on this morning's drive to school.