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.
In 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.
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:
- Pack everything and move to the next country heard spoken aloud. Write a reason to do this.
- A picture prompt that provokes a memoir piece – in my view pictures can be a great trigger for writing.
- Breaking Up on Valentine’s Day this can be a challenging one.
- Want to Guest Blog for the site Writing About Writing? Maybe putting this in here will inspire you, take a look at the site for more information.
- Ten Titles: Flash Fiction Challenge – a set of titles suggested by contributors, perhaps one of these if for you.
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???
Jeff 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.
Then 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.”
I 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 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:
- Get Out There & Other Stories
- Writing with Scissors and other Great Pieces
- Hashtags, Write for your Life, Etc.