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Refresher on IT'S/ITS

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Mar 20, 2018

Are you confused by when to use IT'S and when to use ITS? If so, you have every right to be, because the correct way to use ITS goes against the general rule we're taught about apostrophes. Here's a refresher on the difference between IT'S and ITS:


We normally use an apostrophe when something belongs to someone or something - in other words, to indicate possession:


  • This diary belongs to Daphne.
  • This is Daphne's diary.


  • I like going to that movie theater because the seats there are super comfortable
  • That movie theater's seats are super comfortable.


However, when something belongs to IT, no apostrophe is needed:


  • That movie theater's seats are super comfortable.
  • I like going to that movie theater because ITS seats are super comfortable.


  • Daphne's diary has a green cover.
  • That's Daphne's diary, and ITS cover is green.


We also use apostrophes as a contraction for a noun plus the verb IS or HAS:


  • This seat is super comfortable.
  • This seat's super comfortable. (Seat + IS)


  • Gloria has seen that movie three times.
  • Gloria's seen that movie three times. (GLORIA + HAS)


Following the contraction rule for apostrophes, IT'S is used as a contraction for IT IS or IT HAS:


  • IT IS getting dark, so I really should go home.
  • IT'S getting dark, so I really should go home. (IT + IS)


  • Are you okay? IT HAS been weeks since I've heard from you.
  • Are you okay? IT'S been weeks since I've heard from you. (IT + HAS)


Do the above examples make sense? Essentially, ITS as the possessive form of IT is an exception to the rule regarding apostrophes, so it comes down to memorization to get it right.


-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


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Two abbreviations that are easy to confuse

Are you making this common grammar mistake?

852 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, book, self-publishing, writing, grammar, tip, it's_vs_its
3

Here are some words that sound similar but have very different meanings:


Complement vs. Compliment


Complement means to go well with, supplement.


  • That dress really complements the green in Jennifer's eyes


Compliment means to flatter


  • Gloria wants to compliment Jen on her how well her dress complements the green in her eyes.


Complementary vs. Complimentary


Complementary means goes well with, or acts as a complement.


  • That dress is complementary to the green in Jennifer's eyes.


Complimentary means offering flattery or praise. It also means free.


  • Gloria was quite complimentary of Jennifer's pretty dress.


  • The tickets to the theater were complimentary as a thank-you for her charitable donation.


Assent vs. Ascent


Assent means to agree or approve.


  • After hours of deliberation, the condo association assented to Larry's request to add a deck to his unit.


Ascent means the act of moving upward.


  • Gloria's rapid ascent of the corporate ladder was much deserved.


Amiable vs. Amicable


Amiable means friendly and refers to a person.


  • Jennifer's amiable demeanor helped her smooth things over with the customer after she accidentally spilled a cup of coffee on him.  


Amicable means friendly and refers to a relationship.


  • George and Luisa are no longer living together, but they came to an amicable agreement about how to divide up their furniture.


Refer vs. Recommend


Refer means to send or direct for treatment or information.


  • Laura's primary care doctor referred her to a specialist for her knee pain.


(There are other meanings for "refer," but this is the one that gets confused with "recommend.")


Recommend means to endorse.


  • Laura's primary care doctor recommended a specialist for her knee pain.


What word pairs trip you up? Please share in the comments!


-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


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Refresher on who vs. whom

More words that shouldn't be capitalized

818 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, words, grammar, homophones
0

 

More than once in the past few weeks I've heard the word "reactionary" used to describe someone who reacts or has reacted to something. I flinch each time this happens, because the word that should be used in these cases is "reactive."


Reactive vs. Reactionary


  • Reactive means responsive, or reacting to something.
    • His reactive nature drove him to address the problem before it had a chance to develop into something serious.

 

  • Reactionary means ultraconservative in politics.
    • His reactionary style invigorated his conservative followers while infuriating his detractors.


Do you see how confusing the two could inadvertently lead to a problem in today's environment?


Here are some other words that sound quite similar but have different meanings:


Historic vs. Historical


  • Historic means having great importance or lasting meaning.
    • Neil Armstrong's moonwalk was a historic moment for mankind.
  • Historical means something based on facts of history.
    • Gloria's book is a historical romance set in the English countryside one hundred years ago.


Literally vs. Figuratively


  • Literally means in a literal (true/real) manner.
    • Gloria wanted to buy a pack of gum, but there were literally zero people working behind the counter.
  • Figuratively means in a figurative (not real) manner.
    • I'm speaking figuratively when I say that Gloria thought Dave was going to make her die laughing.


One of my closest friends uses "literally" when she's not speaking literally SO FREQUENTLY that it (figuratively) drives me nuts. For example:


  • I was so hungry this morning that I literally thought I was going to starve to death. (INCORRECT)
    • Why it's incorrect: My friend might have been hungry, but it's highly unlikely that she truly believed she was going to starve to death.


What words do you hear being used incorrectly? Please share in the comments!


-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


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Don't Cook Your Family, Rachael!

Solving the Mystery of Lie vs. Lay

706 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, grammar, grammar_tip
1

One function of adverbs is to modify adjectives, in other words to describe something that already describes something. That alone should give you an idea of how necessary - or unnecessary - they are when used for this purpose.


For example:

  • He drives really fast.
  • She is very happy.
  • We are super glad to be here.


While the above sentences are fine in conversation, in written form they come across as uncreative, maybe even bland. Astute readers view using adverbs as lazy writing, so it's good to avoid them as best you can.


When I catch myself using an adverb to describe an adjective because the adjective doesn't sound right by itself, I try to come up with a more descriptive adjective or an analogy.


For example:

 

Instead of:

  • He drives really fast.

Change to:

  • He drives as if he were on the Autobahn.

Instead of:

  • She is very happy.

Change to::

  • She is ecstatic.


Instead of:

  • We are super glad to be here.

Change to:

  • We are thrilled to be here.


Another way to get around using adverbs is to include a beat (description of an action) that shows the reader what the adverb was meant to convey.


For example:


Instead of:

  • "Do we have to go in there?" Gloria asked nervously.

Change to:

  • Tiny beads of sweat broke out on Gloria's forehead. "Do we have to go in there?" she asked.


Instead of:

  • "It looks like we didn't get the contract," David said glumly.

Change to:

  • David's face fell. "It looks we didn't get the contract."


Do you see the difference? It's not that using adverbs is grammatically wrong, rather that writing that doesn't include a ton of them is more original and engaging. And if your readers find your writing original and engaging, you are doing something right.


-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

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Use Adverbs Sparingly, Especially in Dialogue

 

The Rhythm of Dialogue

 

 

 

 

1,419 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: help, writing, grammar, adverbs, author_tips, grammar_tip
2

Last week I read a novel that contained multiple capitalization errors. The book was published by a small press, which made me wonder how thorough the copyediting process is there. It also made me wonder if certain capitalization errors have become so prevalent that some copyeditors aren't aware that they are mistakes.


Here are two areas where I frequently see capitalization errors:


Job titles


In the novel that prompted this post, the protagonist spent a lot of time discussing her job and her coworkers, and she repeatedly capitalized everyone's title. The rule is that titles are only capitalized if they go directly before a person's name.


  • Gloria saw the Director of Human Resources in the coffee room. (INCORRECT)
  • Gloria saw the director of human resources in the coffee room. (CORRECT)


  • Last week David was promoted to Marketing Manager. (INCORRECT)
  • Last week David was promoted to marketing manager. (CORRECT)


  • Yesterday professor Murphy called a department meeting. (INCORRECT)
  • Yesterday Professor Murphy called a department meeting. (CORRECT)


Seasons


Seasons of the year aren't capitalized unless they are at the beginning of a sentence.


  • This Fall Gloria is planning a trip to New York. (INCORRECT)
  • This fall Gloria is planning a trip to New York. (CORRECT)


  • Every Summer David takes a trip up the coast with his buddies. (INCORRECT)
  • Every summer David takes a trip up the coast with his buddies. (CORRECT)


  • I love spending cold Winter nights curled up with a book. (INCORRECT)
  • I love spending cold winter nights curled up with a book. (CORRECT)


  • I would say that spring is my favorite season. (CORRECT)
  • Spring is my favorite season. (CORRECT)


The rules of capitalization are clear, even if not everyone follows them. However, that shouldn't stop us from abiding by them. It's an uphill battle, but we're fighting the good fight!


-Maria


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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

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Capitalization confusion

Just Say No to Random Capitalization!

1,146 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, grammar, capitalization
2

Because  we learn to speak before we learn to read and write, when we begin to  put words onto a page it's easy to confuse those that sound the same  (also known as homonyms or homophones). For example:

 

*Bred, bread

*Plane, plain

*Great, grate

*Led, lead

*To, two, too

*There, they're, their

 

While the above words sound exactly the same all the time, two that don't sound exactly the same all the time, but which I've noticed people frequently confuse, are OF and HAVE.

 

How so, some of you might be asking? OF and HAVE don't sound anything alike!

 

Actually they do. Read the following sentences out loud and decide which is correct:

 

A)   I should HAVE gone to the movies.

B)   I should OF gone to the movies.

C)   I should've gone to the movies.

 

A)   You could HAVE given me a little more notice.

B)   You could OF given me a little more notice.

C)   You could've given me a little more notice.

 

A) We should HAVE paid more attention in English class.

B) We should OF paid more attention in English class.

C) We should've paid more attention in English class.

 

When you say the above sentences out loud, they sound identical, right?

 

But  when written down they're not the same, not even close. In each example  A and C are correct, and B makes no sense. (Each C is a contraction of  the A.)

 

Just  like mixing up the words I listed at the beginning of this post is no  big deal when speaking because no one can tell the difference, mixing up  HAVE and OF when speaking won't raise any eyebrows. But people can tell the difference when reading, so be careful!

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

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There vs. They're vs. Their

More Word Mix-ups

3,001 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: writing, grammar, writing_advice, grammar_tip, grammar_advice, grammar_rules, author_help
0

Unless you're a grammar nut like I am, chances are you've never heard the term "passive voice." Here's a quick explanation:


Passive voice without attribution is when we learn that something happens without learning who did it.


For example:


  • Active voice: Gloria ate all the cookies.
  • Passive voice without attribution: All the cookies were eaten.
  • Active voice: David stole the cookies out of the box.
  • Passive voice without attribution: The cookies were stolen out of the box.


Passive voice with attribution tell us who did it:


  • All the cookies were eaten by Gloria.
  • The cookies were stolen out of the box by David.


Passive voice with attribution is clunky, but it is better than no attribution at all.


It's okay to use the passive voice now and again, but as a rule it's best to avoid it because the writing sounds a bit weak.Andusing it too often without attribution can irritate your readers because they will be left wondering things such as "Who ate the cookies?" or "Who stole the cookies?"


Journalists (have to) use passive voice without attribution when they simply don't have all the information, for example:


  • Police say the victim was pushed down the stairs.


If the police (and by extension) the reporter knew who pushed the victim down the stairs, the active voice could be used:


  • Police say the victim's ex-husband pushed her down the stairs.


NOTE: The sentence could also read "Police say the victim was pushed down the stairs by her ex-husband." (Again, a little clunky, but the passive voice with attribution is better than no attribution at all.)


Following are nearly identical scenarios, one using active voice, two using passive voice.


A)   The cat climbed the tree in a few seconds.

B)   The tree was climbed in a few seconds.

C)   The tree was climbed by the cat in a few seconds.


Which one do you think sounds better? If your answer isn't A, read the sentences out loud to see if that changes your mind.


-Maria


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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


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Active vs. Passive Voice

Why the Passive Voice Is Hated By Me

1,129 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, grammar, active_voice, passive_voice
2

In previous posts I've addressed my tendency to overuse certain words, phrases, or gestures, for example she bit her lip and she walked home slowly. To solve the problem I use the "find" option on Microsoft Word to catch the over-usages before my manuscripts go to the copyeditor. Some still slip through, but I'm getting better.


For words and expressions that are common, repeating them on occasion over the course of an entire novel is not a problem. For example:


  • She opened the door.
  • He fed the dog.
  • They ate dinner at home.


It's the uncommon ones that are problematic when repeated, because they are memorable. For example, using any of the following more than once in a novel would not go unnoticed by your readers:


  • She covered her face with her hands and began sobbing hysterically.
  • To celebrate, he jumped up and did splits in the air.
  • As she looked at him, her eyes flickered with curiosity.


While it's fine to sprinkle the same common gestures here and there over the course of an entire book, be careful to space them out. Last week I began reading a novel in which the following appeared in the span of just two pages in the first chapter:


  1. Kristen rubbed my arm, yanking me back to the present.
  2. Kristen rubbed my forearm. "Please talk to us."
  3. Kristen pushed out her lower lip. She rubbed my forearm.


If those sentences had appeared fifty pages apart, I doubt I would have noticed them, but their proximity made them leap off the page. As a result I stopped thinking about the story and instead found myself wondering how neither the author nor the copyeditor had noticed the repetition. Annoyed, I also gave up on that book and moved on to another one. That's not what you want to happen to your readers, right? So be careful! We all have our "crutch" words. What are some of yours?


-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


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Writing tip: don't be afraid to cut

Writing tip: be careful not to overdo the beats

1,033 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing, grammar
0

If there is one grammar term that I never understood until recently, it was "dangling participle." Now that I finally know what it means, I thought I'd explain it here.

 

A participle is a form of a verb. For example, writing and written are participles of the verb to write.

 

  • I am writing this blog post (present participle)
  • I have written this blog post (past participle)

 

A dangling participle is when a present participle, usually at the beginning of a sentence, doesn't modify the subject. As a result it sounds like the wrong person or thing is the subject.

 

Example #1

 

 

Writing this blog post, memories of high school English class came rushing back.


 

The dangling participle:

 

 

  • Writing this blog post

 

Why it's a problem:

 

 

  • Memories of high school English didn't write this blog post.


How to write the sentence correctly:

 

 

  • Writing this blog post, I was flooded by memories of high school English class.


Example #2

 

Climbing the ladder, the red ball on the roof was easy to spot.


 

    The dangling participle:

  • Climbing the ladder


Why it's a problem:

 

 

  • The red ball didn't climb the ladder

 

How to write the sentence correctly:

 

 

  • Climbing the ladder, Gloria found the red ball on the roof easy to spot.


Example #3

 

 

Reading over these examples, my blog poston dangling participles is easy to understand.


The dangling participle:

 

 

  • Reading over these examples

 

Why it's a problem:

 

 

  • My blog post isn't reading over these examples.

 

How to write the sentence correctly:

 

 

  • Reading over these examples, I think (hope!) my blog post on dangling participles is easy to understand.

 

I realize this is a tricky one, so if you're still confused, you're not alone. Just try at all times to avoid any ambiguity about who the subject is. That should lead you down the right path!


-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

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Solving the Mystery of Lie vs. Lay

 

Between You and ME

 

 

 

 

2,031 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: writing, grammar, writing_tips, grammar_tip, grammar_advice, grammar_rules
1

Some words are hard to remember. (I have to look up "supercilious" every time I come across it.) Others are confusing. (I still don't get what "camp" means when used as an adjective.) Others are hard to remember and confusing. (For the life of me, I don't know how to use "cheeky" correctly.)

 

Then there are the dreaded words, or pairs of words, that are so similar it's easy to mix them up. Here are some common ones:

 

Affect & Effect

For the most part "affect" is a verb, and "effect" is a noun:

 

  • This heat is affecting my game (correct)
  • I feel the effect of the heat (correct)

 

Occasionally "effect" is a verb when it means "to bring about":

 

  • She wants to effect change as president (correct)

 

Pique & Peak

These two are usually mixed up in the expression "piques interest":

 

  • That book description piques my interest (correct)
  • He climbed to the peak of the mountain (correct)

 

Uncharted & Unchartered

These two are usually mixed up in the expression "uncharted territory":

 

  • This is uncharted territory for us (correct)
  • That yacht is unchartered for tomorrow (correct)

 

Moot & Mute

These two are usually mixed up in the expression "a moot point":

 

Moot means "irrelevant."

 

  • The seating chart debate is a moot point because they canceled the wedding (correct)

 

Mute means "silent/to make silent" or "unable to speak."

 

  • She is mute on the subject, preferring to let her art speak for her (correct)
  • He muted the TV so he could hear what she was saying (correct)
  • He’s been a mute since birth but can hear perfectly (correct)

 

Which word pairs trip you up? Please let me know in the comments so I can address them in a future post!

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

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Refer vs. Recommend

Why the Passive Voice Is Hated By Me

1,387 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, writing, grammar, spelling, grammar_tip, grammar_advice
0

 

I've written more than once in this space about the maddening (yet seemingly ubiquitous) trend of using "I" when "me" is the correct pronoun. If presidential candidates can't even get it right, I wonder what hope there is for my good grammar crusade. But I refuse to give up!


While not as common as the I/me error, nearly every day I hear someone make a similar mistake regarding she/her and he/him. Here's a refresher lesson about the difference:


"He" and "she" are subject pronouns. A subject does something.


  • Gloria goes to the store. (Gloria is the subject)
  • She goes to the store. (She is the subject)
  • David makes me laugh. (David is the subject)
  • He makes me laugh. (He is the subject)


"Him" and "her" are object pronouns. Objects have something done to them.


  • I saw Gloria. (Gloria is the direct object)
  • I saw her. (Her is the direct object)
  • I gave David the letter. (David is the indirect object)
  • I gave him the letter. (Him is the indirect object)


The above examples are pretty obvious to the ear. It would sound jarring if someone were to say, "Her goes to the store," or "I gave he the letter," right? Where people run into trouble is when there is more than one object in the sentence. For example:


  • I took a photo of David and Gloria.
  • I took a photo of him and Gloria. (CORRECT)
  • I took a photo of he and Gloria. (INCORRECT)


To some ears the third option above might sound right, but it's not. Let's remove the second object in the sentence, which in this case is Gloria:


  • I took a photo of David.
  • I took a photo of him. (CORRECT)
  • I took a photo of he. (INCORRECT)

 

In the above examples, the answer again becomes obvious, right? So, remember this: When in doubt, take Gloria out!

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

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Grammar tip: How to use gerunds correctly

 

Grammar tip: Have gone, not have went

 

 

 

 

2,887 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, writing, craft, grammar, writing_advice, grammar_tip, grammar_tips, grammar_rules
3

 

I recently met a very nice indie author who was kind enough to give me a signed copy of her debut novel. I liked her a lot and really wanted to like her book too, as I'm always rooting for indie authors (and of course am always looking for a good read). Unfortunately, however, I didn't make it through the first chapter before giving up and moving on to the next book in the stack on my nightstand.

 

One of the main reasons I couldn't continue reading her novel was the dialogue! In nearly every conversation, more than half the sentences ended with exclamation points! Lots and lots of exclamation points! The effect was that everyone sounded like they were shouting at each other! So much shouting! Why were they shouting?! In real life, people don't shout at each other that much! Or at least that's my opinion.


Do you see how annoying all those exclamation points are? Certainly there is a time and place for them, but you don't want to use too many. Think of it like adding salt to your food; a tiny bit is good, but too much ruins the meal.


Granted, there were other issues with the novel in question that also sapped my interest, but all those exclamation points certainly didn't help.


One strategy for ensuring that your dialogue sounds realistic is to read it out loud. I'm pretty sure that if the author in this case had done so, she would have quickly noticed the over-salting situation she'd created. In fact, reading dialogue can also reveal other issues that might otherwise escape you, such as the lack of contractions. (In a previous blog post I talked about the robot effect that creates.)


You want readers to focus on your story, not your punctuation. So save the exclamation points for when they're really necessary.

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


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Avoid word repetition

 

Writing tip: does your dialogue sound realistic?

 

 

 

 

1,187 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, punctuation, dialogue, grammar, character_development, grammar_tip, author_advice, grammar_advice
0

That vs. which

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jun 1, 2016

On the heels of my post about when to use "who" vs. "that," today I thought I'd address an equally thorny differentiation: "that" vs. "which."

 

Mind you, somehow I managed to receive a degree in English without learning the difference between "that" and "which," so don't feel bad if you have no clue. It wasn't until I was in graduate school that my friend Debbie laid it out for me, clear as day.

 

Here's what she said: If it sounds like you could use either, use "that."

 

For example:

 

*Cooking is an activity that relaxes many people (CORRECT)

*Cooking is an activity which relaxes many people (INCORRECT)

 

In the above sentence, to the untrained ear it may sound like you could use either. So given Debbie's justification, "that" would be the correct choice. And guess what? It is!

 

Wanting a more formal explanation for what Debbie had told me, shortly after our conversation I did some research, and here's what I learned:

 

Essential clauses, which can't be removed from a sentence without changing its basic meaning, require "that":

 

*Cooking is something that I do all the time.

 

If you remove the essential clause above, you'll be left with:

 

*Cooking is something. (CHANGES BASIC MEANING OF SENTENCE)

 

Nonessential clauses, which can be removed without altering the basic meaning of the sentence, require "which." (Note: these type of clauses, such as the ones I've written above, are set apart with commas.)

 

*Cooking, which I love, is relaxing.

 

If you remove the nonessential clause above, you'll be left with:

 

*Cooking is relaxing. (DOESN'T CHANGE BASIC MEANING OF SENTENCE)

 

Got it? I know this is tricky, so if you're more confused than ever, see if the clause in question is set apart by commas. That should help you figure it out!


-Maria


 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


 

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Refer vs. Recommend

 

 

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1,069 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, self-publishing, writing, grammar, capitalization, author_advice, grammar_advice
0

I see a lot of capitalization errors, but one of the most common is regarding family members, especially parents. Here's a refresher on the rule:


 

If the "Mom/mom" or "Dad/dad" is replacing the name of the person, then capitalize it because it's a proper noun. If it's replacing the title of the person, leave it in lowercase.


 

For example, let's say you're speaking to your sister about your parents, whose names are Gloria and Dale:


 

  • You: "Do you think Mom and Dad are coming to the barbeque this weekend?" (CORRECT)
  • Your sister: "Yes, but they'll be late because Mom's company is having some' event in the city." (CORRECT)


 

In the above scenario, "Mom" and "Dad" are capitalized because they are replacing "Gloria" and "Dale," which are proper nouns. If you and your sister were to refer to your parents by their first names, you could use "Gloria" and "Dale" in the above exchange.


 

Now let's say that you're chatting with your sister about her in-laws. We'll pretend your sister's husband is named Bob, and his parents' names are Linda and Sal.


 

  • You: "What about Bob's mom and dad? Are they coming to the barbeque? (CORRECT)
  • Your sister: "No, his mom hasn't been feeling well, so I think they're going to stay home." (CORRECT)


 

In the above scenario, "mom" and "dad" are lowercase because they aren't proper nouns. You couldn't swap "Linda"and "Sal" for "mom" and "dad" there.

 

 

 

Here's an example of a combination of the two scenarios:


 

  • You: "That's too bad. I hope his mom feels better because I really wanted her to hear Mom tell that funny story about how she and Dad got stuck at the airport."(CORRECT)
  • Your sister: "I'm sure she'll be fine. Bob's dad said it's just a bad cold, but I agree that his mom will love the way Mom tells that story." (CORRECT)


Do you see the difference? If you're still confused, keep this sentence on hand for future reference: "Mom and Dad, you drive me crazy sometimes, but you are also the best mom and dad in the world!"

 

-Maria


 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

 

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Common mistakes in capitalization

 

More grammar pet peeves!

 

 

 

 

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4

I start today's blog post with a quote from Stephen King:

 

"I believe the road to **** is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops."

 

This declaration of adverse feelings toward adverbs comes from the horror master's book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Let's just say he is not a fan of modifiers that end in "-ly." Given that he's sold tens of millions of books and has had a career that has spanned five decades, it would be wise to at least hear him out.

 

King's main objection is centered on using "-ly" words that follow verbs that identify a speaker of dialogue--said, shouted, whispered, asked, etc. His objection covers a great deal more ground, but he directs his ire on this element of story specifically. His argument is that they are unnecessary at best and intrusive at worst. The context of a passage should be enough to inform the reader of intent.

 

Let's examine the use of such adverbs in a practical setting. Let's say you are writing a mystery. A detective is interrogating a suspect. So, what do we know about the story and characters just from these variables? We know a lot just from the genre. Mystery suggests that your plot is fraught with unknowns that will be uncovered throughout the course of the book. The roll of the characters suggests a somewhat adversarial relationship. We have a lot of information going into the interrogation. The suspect tells the detective he is innocent, and the detective's reply can be written one of two ways:

 

"Why should I believe you?" he asked.

 

Or

 

"Why should I believe you?" he asked skeptically.

 

The detective is questioning a suspect. We can safely assume that he will be skeptical of any claim made by a man he suspects of a crime. Now, that's an easy example, but the same kind of logic can be applied in less obvious cases. You just have to trust the reader.

 

There will be times when these modifiers are necessary, but for the most part, I think King is correct. They should be avoided as much as possible.

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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2,253 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, dialogue, grammar, adverbs, stephen_king
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