Tag Archives: rules

My roller coaster day

I had two goals this weekend: First, I wanted to get through edits on Will ‘O the Wisp, Second, I wanted to finish a book I’ve been reading.

It’s another bachelor weekend, and it sounded realistic. I never got to the story I’m reading. I wonder if all writers go through this?

I started at 7:00 this morning. I was part way through the edits, but the document was 193 pages long. Let the horror of that statement sink in for a bit. Okay, they were electronic pages and the numbers change depending on how I hold my iPad, but still…

God, I suck! Why did I ever start writing?

God, I suck. Why did I write this piece of garbage?

I don’t think this rule is right?

Spend three hours with The Purdue Owl, and other sources. Some of the rules are flexible. They’re more like guidelines, Arrrggghhh.

If the rule is flexible, I like my method.

Oops, I was really wrong here. God, I suck.

Consistency, consistency, consistency; even if I’m consistently wrong. Do I suck at this?

Wow, that was a good passage. Go back and read it again. That was the opposite of suck.

Oops, I’m supposed to be editing, not enjoying the story. I mean, I know how it ends.

Put a comma in, take a comma out. I hate rules.

Did I really think that up? That was really creative. Keep reading.

Back to the editing. This isn’t so tough.

Read three chapters and really enjoy them. God, this is a good story.

I hope people will read this, it’s really good. Back to editing.

Doh! How did I duplicate a chapter number?

What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Editing is like being a character in one of my stories, only without bullets and hair loss.

Back to The Purdue Owl. Okay, I’m wrong.

This is the best story I’ve ever written. I’m a rockstar!

It’s 7:00 PM and I’m finished. I took an hour break for a sandwich, and to sandblast my eyeballs. I’d like to get back to the book I’m reading, but I don’t think my eyes will let me.

I am so grateful to the person who helped me with this. I’m more of a big picture kind of guy. Plot and characters are more appealing to me. The microscope work is not my forte.

Sure, I have to read through it again (more than once), and another friend offered up some structural comments that should really help. Still, I’m happy. This is going to be an awesome story, and it’s suitable for young adults. I’ve never written one that I thought was completely safe for the younger crowd.

Maybe I’ll tackle my reading tomorrow, but I have an appointment with Smaug and Bilbo in the afternoon.

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“Look, a dialog tag,” said Craig.

Once upon a time, dialog tags were expected to do double duty. They served as a roadmap to keep readers on track. They also served to add some description to the scenes.

We wound up with: she whispered, he growled, Jane stuttered, Bob moaned, etc.

Today, we no longer expect, or want dialog tags to add description. The new rule is to use only said, thought, or asked as a dialog tag. I’d say this one has moved from a guideline to a rule. We’re supposed to get the point across with the dialog, and some actions.

There’s nothing technically wrong with this sentence. “You suck,” Bob yelled.

Keep in mind that correct doesn’t mean good. “You suck!” Comes across much better with no tag at all, provided we understand Bob is speaking. (You haters of the exclamation point can write about it in your own blogs.)

Said, thought, and asked have been described as invisible words. In a way, they’re almost punctuation in themselves. The new guideline is that invisible dialog tags are preferred.

This brings me to my main point. I really can’t stand what I call backwards dialog tags. “I like cheese,” said Martha. Martha and said have been reversed.

I did what everyone else does. I went looking for some grammar guru to back me up. Then I can say, “See, I told you so. Isn’t grammar guru smart?”

I didn’t find a grammar guru who is stern enough to put up a fight. The overwhelming consensus is that “said Martha” is correct. I’ll just add that correct does not mean good. They are saying this style is old fashioned, and archaic. This is moving into guideline territory in my mind.

Whenever I see a backwards dialog tag, it pulls me out of the story. This is bad, even for a second. I’m not everyone, and you have the right to disagree with me.

If we’re trying so hard to use invisible dialog tags, why draw attention to them?

“Oh my God, look you guys, it’s a dialog tag.”

“Wow, I thought those things are supposed to be invisible.”

“They are, but there it is anyway. Black Courier New all over the page.”

“Sure enough. What were we reading again?”

“I don’t remember. Turn back a page and try catching up.”

“Alright, but when we come to the backwards dialog tag, don’t look at it. Maybe it’ll go away.”

“Hey, Craig used the word archaic. Now I want cake.”

“Me too, let’s go out and get our cake. Get it?”

“Yeah, we can always pick up that book later…

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