Web Explored: Gramerd, Writing Prompts, etc.

Web Explored - Gramers and March Snow

What is a Gramerd? Well Gram­mar Jayne will spend some time explain­ing. I thought this an inter­est­ing word to start this month’s selec­tion of the Web Explored. This is a col­lec­tion gath­er­ing thoughts since the day I pub­lished the last set. If you are look­ing for writ­ing prompts then I have col­lect­ed many together.

 

Confessions

 

Ivery Tower the home of the gramerdIn Con­fes­sions of a Gram­mar­i­an Jayne Bodell, or Gram­mar Jayne as she prefers to be known talks about the life of a gramerd. That is a gram­mar nerd, if you didn’t know. Sit­ting in an ivory tow­er “look­ing down on you com­ma mis-users”, etc. She believes care must be tak­en oth­er­wise there will be a need to vis­it a ther­a­pist. Are gramerds excep­tion­al and must they always be per­fect? Peo­ple hate being cor­rect­ed, but is the cor­rec­tor always right? If they aren’t then one thing is cer­tain — every­one will hear about it.

Com­ma splices, dan­gling mod­i­fiers, the weapon of choice here. It is fun­ny how IT peo­ple and gram­mar nerds both share that ivory tow­er. In my case I have been both. I am with Jayne in hat­ing how get­ting it wrong eras­es the 684 times con­sec­u­tive you were right. I don’t claim per­fec­tion, I am always learn­ing and thought her expe­ri­ences interesting.

 

Writing Prompts

 

A great many sites are chal­lengers peo­ple to get up and write. I thought it a good time to put in a few writ­ing prompts that may spur you on to your next great masterpiece:

If you want more writ­ing prompts then ThinkWrit­ten has pro­vid­ed 365 of them. Good Luck, I hope one of these writ­ing prompts spurs you on to suc­cess. Think­ing about it this whole Web Explored col­umn is about pro­vid­ing writ­ing prompts to read­ers, thought­ful pieces that spur peo­ple to action.

 

Write When You Are Sick???

 

cure for the common coldJeff Elkins has a cure for the com­mon cold. Well maybe. In “3 Tricks for Writ­ing Even When You’re Sick.” His think­ing “when we are sick, we should try and take a step back and learn about how our char­ac­ters will feel when they are struck with a dis­ease.” His sug­ges­tions include jour­nal­ing your symp­toms. The idea being that if you can write about what you are expe­ri­enc­ing, how it impacts you that you can use those per­son­al expe­ri­ences to por­tray the chal­lenges your char­ac­ters face.

From my expe­ri­ence I have some insight about how a blind per­son may feel hav­ing expe­ri­enced tem­po­rary symp­toms of this type. I did write about what it was like at the time, the chal­lenges I faced. Hav­ing to be a pas­sen­ger, when I would nor­mal­ly be the dri­ver, to attend hos­pi­tal appoint­ments before by eye­sight returned. I spent time col­lect­ing my thoughts on a dig­i­tal recorder, but most­ly it was about how I felt about the world around me and not the spe­cif­ic symp­toms I faced.

 

Skeleton and Scrubbing?

 

In How strong is your skele­ton? Michelle Gun­nin, from Two Drops of Ink, recalls a Hal­loween sto­ry about con­sumes to remind us that sto­ries need a good skele­ton as their foun­da­tion. “When you write, you start with your skele­ton.” She says. It is very true that there are many writ­ers who do not use a skele­ton and their work suf­fers because of it. Pre-writ­ing is the process she calls this. It requires brain­storm­ing to bring out ideas then use the ideas to cre­ate a plan.

Michelle cov­ers the basic ways you can build the out­line for your sto­ry and how it will pro­vide the skele­ton to hold your sto­ry togeth­er. She details sev­en dif­fer­ent approach­es to cre­at­ing your sto­ry. A flow chart, for exam­ple, is a tool that I have used to design com­put­er pro­grams but I have nev­er con­sid­ered using them as a writ­ing tool. Thank you, Michelle, for pro­vid­ing new ideas.

Washing suds and scrubbingThen this brings me to Tips for Scrub­bing Sto­ries to a Sparkle by Sharon Lip­pin­cott on The Heart and craft of Life Writ­ing. All about when “you’re ready for your final edit to stream­line, scrub and pol­ish your sto­ry to its finest shine.” I love that way that Sharon has pre­sent­ed her tips rhyth­mi­cal­ly, using terms like “Dead Would Chop­ping” and “Which Hunt­ing” to tell us of the tasks that are nec­es­sary when it come to edit­ing. To me the tough­est places to apply the cut­ting knife are those phras­es where you toiled to use clever words, only to per­haps end up being a lit­tle too smart.

 

Strange Secretive Skill

 

Ali Madeeh Hash­mi from Pakistan’s The News On Sun­day has some thoughts about “the notion that writ­ing is a strange, secre­tive skill is part and par­cel of a pop­u­lar myth: that of being a ‘born’ writer or teacher, musi­cian, artist etc.” Of course e has the view that “as with all myths, this one does not stand up to rig­or­ous scruti­ny.” Learn­ing is school, col­lege etc. is all about growth in the skill of writ­ing. This writer has some use­ful tips about the art of writ­ing. Truth is you can learn from any­where, all you need is a will­ing­ness to do so.

Read­ing pieces like this gives me a thrill and am always on the look­out for them. Writ­ing can­not be a secre­tive skill, strange some­times, pecu­liar at times, but we have to go where the sto­ry takes us. I woke with a dream — the basis for a strange sto­ry the oth­er day and spent an hour not­ing it into Ever­note. for future use.

One thought I like is ” Just write. The only way to write is to sit down with a pen and paper (or a com­put­er) and start writ­ing. If you decide to wait till inspi­ra­tion strikes, you will be in for a long wait.” I agree with this thought, thoughts strike me as I write. These thoughts are not always ordered, they have to be put in order to make sense, but that is one of the tasks a writer faces.

 

Ancient Alien Humor

 

This con­tri­bu­tion is by Tim­o­thy Hecht on Two Drops of Ink this is an amus­ing sto­ry relat­ing to watch­ing episodes of Ancient Aliens on the His­to­ry chan­nel. A sto­ry about Agent 54. Hecht says “My wife has observed the trance-like state that I often enter… this trance-like state is often accom­pa­nied by strange sounds com­ing from my body that kin­da go “zzz zzz zzz zzz zzz zzz”. Lat­er, after I regain full con­scious­ness (with cof­fee of course), Agent 54 is able to write fan­tas­tic tales that bring joy and laugh­ter to the world.”

AliensI sup­pose inspi­ra­tion hits us all in dif­fer­ent ways. Is Hecht relat­ed to ancient aliens? He has some amus­ing log­ic, like being linked to the green-eyed part of the pop­u­la­tion (only 1% of human­i­ty). I then belong to a rar­er set blue/green eyed. I find this stuff amus­ing, but I am not sure it has any basis in fact, but it makes a great sto­ry. “Agent 54 believes he’s on a jour­ney to dis­cov­er his extrater­res­tri­al “roots”; a jour­ney I would like to wish him all the best with.

 

One Last Thought

 

The final thought this month comes from Steven Press­field in “427 Minus 1 = Zero” although the maths is weird, it actu­al­ly works. It comes from the log­ic of a lit­er­ary agent called Barthold Fles, Pressfield’s first agent, his log­ic follows:

 

He was speak­ing about pages in a novel.

If the full book is 427 and you’ve writ­ten 426, you haven’t got 426/427ths.

You’ve got nothing.

The work isn’t ready to be shipped till it’s 427.

Whether you are talk­ing about writ­ing a blog post or a nov­el some­thing that is 99.99% com­plete is not com­plete. I remem­ber my life as a project man­ag­er when project mem­bers had tasks to work on, too many when asked would declare their tasks 99% com­plete. They did not have the con­fi­dence to declare the task com­plete, for when there was some­thing else need­ed by some­one else on the project. If you have writ­ten 426 pages then fin­ish­ing the extra page is essen­tial for suc­cess. As Press­field points out “beat it once and you can beat it after that every time.” What is miss­ing? Can you fix it? Then fix it, please.

Are you a gram­mar nerd (gramerd), or look­ing for writ­ing prompts? I hope we have giv­en you some­thing to inspire you to write. It is a joy each month to build Web Explored, a group of great pieces, writ­ten by a vari­ety of peo­ple around the world, each of whom have tak­en time to col­lect their thoughts to present them to the rest of us.

Web Explored:

Web explored is a series of month­ly arti­cles gath­er­ing togeth­er some of the best things pub­lished on the web over the past few weeks. This month it spreads from Jayne Bodell’s con­cept of a gramerd, to Steven Pressfield’s thoughts that 427 minus 1 = zero, com­plete­ness mat­ters. I thank all the great con­trib­u­tors out on the web for their excep­tion­al posts. I hope you are all inter­est­ed. Oth­er recent posts in this cat­e­go­ry include:

 

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