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MY SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF WRITING Options · View
ladysharon
Posted: Saturday, July 16, 2011 7:34:20 AM

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Too late. j/k. I'm editing someone's story and i'm having a field day right now.
scooter
Posted: Monday, July 18, 2011 7:49:08 PM

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I'm ascared to even try to write a story nowLiar
DirtyMartini
Posted: Monday, July 18, 2011 8:11:48 PM

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ladysharon wrote:
Too late. j/k. I'm editing someone's story and i'm having a field day right now.


Having a field day editing? Lol...that's one thing I hate...I'd rather write a whole new story than edit one...

Not to sound too dumb, but who is "j/k?"...can't think of anyone here with those initials...

I once knew a drinker who had a moderating problem...

Sherzahd
Posted: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 12:32:58 AM

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I'm sorry for not wrapping this up sooner, it has been a busy few days. Promise to get at least one more up once I get home from work. thumbright

“Many people hear voices when no-one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.”
ladysharon
Posted: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 7:58:39 AM

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DirtyMartini wrote:
You two sinners going to come up with a big sin list? Shouldn't be that hard...

I could probably come up with a couple myself...but, I try not to think about it too much...


Only for you, Alan.
ladysharon
Posted: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 8:00:43 AM

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DirtyMartini wrote:
ladysharon wrote:
Too late. j/k. I'm editing someone's story and i'm having a field day right now.


Having a field day editing? Lol...that's one thing I hate...I'd rather write a whole new story than edit one...

Not to sound too dumb, but who is "j/k?"...can't think of anyone here with those initials...


j/k. just kidding.

this person's story is making me write the story for him.
Sherzahd
Posted: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 12:18:00 PM

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The Sixth Deadly Sin: Dangling Modifiers

Dangling modifiers are hard to explain, but they often create illogical, even confusing dontknow sentences. The best way to describe it would be when a writer unintentionally says something he or she never intended to.

For example:

While still a boy, my Aunt Clara and I went hiking in the mountains.

Can you see the clumsiness of this sentence? It sounds like he is implying that his Aunt Clara was a boy when they went hiking in the mountains (yes, I know that in this day and age that is entirely plausible, but I am sure that you get what I mean).

Let me use another example:

Having been thrown in the air, the dog caught the frisbee.


Did I just throw a dog into the air? Can you see how comical a dangling or misplaced modifier can sound?

And another:

Walking back from the carnival, my keys were lost.


As you can see, I’ve trained my keys to walk itself back from the carnival. happy8

Now while I am certain that most of our readers are smart enough to figure out what we are trying to say, it isn’t their job to work things out, it is our task to keep our storylines clear and uncluttered. A story is about bringing across a message, sometimes the message can be serious, so if your reader gets a chuckle out of misplaced words, the overall effect is lost. Any time you draw attention to how you’ve said something instead of what you’ve said, the link between writer and reader is lost.

How do we avoid dangling or misplacing modifiers?

First you need to recognize your modifying phrase (it’s usually the first descriptive phrase in the sentence).

Then find the first noun after this phrase (it should be the noun you are trying to modify).

Make sure that your modifying phrase and your noun matches each other logically.

If it does not, rewrite the sentence so it makes sense.

Allow me to fix the examples:

While still a boy, I went hiking in the mountains with my Aunt Clara.

Having been thrown in the air, the frisbee was caught by the dog.

Walking back from the carnival, I lost my keys.


In conclusion, if your modifying phrase is describing or elaborating on a specific noun, place it immediately beside the word you are modifying.


“Many people hear voices when no-one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.”
DirtyMartini
Posted: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 6:23:17 PM

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ladysharon wrote:

j/k. just kidding.



Thanks for clearing that up Sharon...I'm not real up on the text and net lingo these days...I'm a bit "old-school"...it's actually a wonder I can use a computer at all...

Let me go read about how Yas taught her keys to walk home from the carnival...happy8

I once knew a drinker who had a moderating problem...

ladysharon
Posted: Thursday, July 21, 2011 4:47:25 PM

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You are very welcome, alan. I thought you used a typewriter from the late 1890s. Did they even have typewriters then?dontknow
DirtyMartini
Posted: Thursday, July 21, 2011 5:51:19 PM

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ladysharon wrote:
You are very welcome, alan. I thought you used a typewriter from the late 1890s. Did they even have typewriters then?dontknow


It funny you mentioned that...my grandparents actually met over a typewriter...my grandfather worked with my grandmother's brother who mentioned to my grandfather one day that his sister had a typewriter...my grandfather went over the house to see it, and that's how he met my grandmother...
He had never seen a typewriter before...not sure exactly what year they met, but they got married in 1926...

I have the typewriter actually, but no, don't write stories on it...looks like this picture, it's a Royal 10 with the beveled glass sides...and yeah, they had typewriters in the late 1800's...




I once knew a drinker who had a moderating problem...

Louise
Posted: Friday, July 22, 2011 3:27:21 AM

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DirtyMartini wrote:
ladysharon wrote:
You are very welcome, alan. I thought you used a typewriter from the late 1890s. Did they even have typewriters then?dontknow


It funny you mentioned that...my grandparents actually met over a typewriter...my grandfather worked with my grandmother's brother who mentioned to my grandfather one day that his sister had a typewriter...my grandfather went over the house to see it, and that's how he met my grandmother...
He had never seen a typewriter before...not sure exactly what year they met, but they got married in 1926...

I have the typewriter actually, but no, don't write stories on it...looks like this picture, it's a Royal 10 with the beveled glass sides...and yeah, they had typewriters in the late 1800's...




My grandfather used to be a typewriter salesman. He sold and repaired them for most of his life. Everytime I see one I'm taken back to his workshop. I can almost smell the turpentine he used to clean them. And the 'bing' noise they made when they got to the end and had to be reset to the right. He always used to type the ' the quick brown fox...' phrase to use all the letters in the typewriter.

New Poem out

The Observer
DirtyMartini
Posted: Friday, July 22, 2011 4:09:30 AM

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Louise wrote:
And the 'bing' noise they made when they got to the end and had to be reset to the right.


Yeah, they should figure out a way to put the "bing" noise in Word...happy8

I happen to have it in storage at the moment, along with a lot of my things, but that's another story...anyway, it used to be quite a conversation piece...I used to have it in my bedroom during the 90's...and any time I had a girl over, they always seemed to have to try it out and type their name on it...

Not sure that was always a good idea, though I just had to remember to replace the paper every now and then...convenient though, if I forgot a girl's name in the morning, I just had to go over to the typewriter and look at what she typed the night before...icon_smile

I once knew a drinker who had a moderating problem...

Sherzahd
Posted: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 3:58:29 AM

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The Seventh Deadly Sin of Writing: Head Hopping

Firstly, allow me to apologise for my tardiness in wrapping this up.

Point of view refers to the character or person narrating the story (in other words, whose head we are in).

As writers, we are offered the chance of allowing our readers to wander through the mind of a character. This is something that sets reading apart from watching a movie. We are throwing our readers into one character’s head, which allows them to connect with that character, grow a bond with, and even identify with his or her problems or conflicts. In order to keep that connection strong, we need to keep the point of view fixed. While switching point of view is not wrong, it does weaken the impact of the story.

Have you ever read a story written in the first person, then without warning the author reveals the thoughts of a different character? And you’re thinking, “Whoa! Did I misunderstand?” scratch And you scroll back up to make sure you didn’t miss anything. Well, good news is, you probably didn’t. Even better news is, you are an astute reader, so you can give yourself a congratulatory slap on the back.

Point of view breaches aren’t limited to first person tales; it is amplified when writing in third person, especially since most fiction is written in third person. Always remember that when you’re writing from one person’s point of view, he/she can only assume what another character is thinking or feeling by guessing from that character’s dialogue, actions, expression, etc. The only person whose thoughts and feelings he/she can plausibly reveal, is his/her own.

In a nutshell… always be aware of whose viewpoint you’re in and why. If you need to change viewpoints, never do it without warning.


“Many people hear voices when no-one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.”
magnificent1rascal
Posted: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 11:38:33 AM

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Sherzahd wrote:
The Seventh Deadly Sin of Writing: Head Hopping


Yes, yes, and a resounding YES! Switching points of view willy-nilly is a sure sign of an amateur writer, in my opinion.

Connect with Maggie

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ladysharon
Posted: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 4:41:01 PM

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Joined: 10/13/2010
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Location: Chicago
Sherzahd wrote:
The Seventh Deadly Sin of Writing: Head Hopping

Firstly, allow me to apologise for my tardiness in wrapping this up.

Point of view refers to the character or person narrating the story (in other words, whose head we are in).

As writers, we are offered the chance of allowing our readers to wander through the mind of a character. This is something that sets reading apart from watching a movie. We are throwing our readers into one character’s head, which allows them to connect with that character, grow a bond with, and even identify with his or her problems or conflicts. In order to keep that connection strong, we need to keep the point of view fixed. While switching point of view is not wrong, it does weaken the impact of the story.

Have you ever read a story written in the first person, then without warning the author reveals the thoughts of a different character? And you’re thinking, “Whoa! Did I misunderstand?” scratch And you scroll back up to make sure you didn’t miss anything. Well, good news is, you probably didn’t. Even better news is, you are an astute reader, so you can give yourself a congratulatory slap on the back.

Point of view breaches aren’t limited to first person tales; it is amplified when writing in third person, especially since most fiction is written in third person. Always remember that when you’re writing from one person’s point of view, he/she can only assume what another character is thinking or feeling by guessing from that character’s dialogue, actions, expression, etc. The only person whose thoughts and feelings he/she can plausibly reveal, is his/her own.

In a nutshell… always be aware of whose viewpoint you’re in and why. If you need to change viewpoints, never do it without warning.


This one is one of my biggest deadly sins, actually. I like knowing who's warped mind I'm in while I'm reading. *hugs to Yas on posting this one.*
DirtyMartini
Posted: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 5:22:41 PM

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Sherzahd wrote:
The Seventh Deadly Sin of Writing: Head Hopping

Firstly, allow me to apologise for my tardiness in wrapping this up.


Well...I think you should apologize...in fact, I think you should more than apologize, maybe even buy us all ice cream...happy8

Sherzahd wrote:

Have you ever read a story written in the first person, then without warning the author reveals the thoughts of a different character? And you’re thinking, “Whoa! Did I misunderstand?” scratch


No...actually, I can't recall this, though I'd think it would be pretty bad...I've seen people go from first person to second person in a short story...sort of go into this "you do, I do" thing, and that can be annoying...
I've also seen people put two POV's in the same paragraph...and that's just wrong...

I once knew a drinker who had a moderating problem...

Rumple_deWriter
Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2011 5:50:10 AM

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Stories Space newbie here.. Great job. Might want to place these in a single, sticky, post.

Rumple deWriter glasses8

Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwords.[/ - ROBERT HEINLEIN

Schemers Scheme -- young women talking about young men

OF WAR, AND PEACE, AND MARY BETH: my contest winner, honest

For Whom the Good Tolls an 'RR' and it's short, no kidding

Sherzahd
Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011 7:13:18 AM

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Just recently, while editing a story someone sent me, I came across a myriad of errors that I had no idea any writer would still be making outside of writing a high school essay. It made me realise how ill equiped some of us are at this whole writing game. I have attempted in a small way to help by posting this thread, but i have come to realise that what I have posted here does not even come close to being the tip of an enormous iceberg of commonly made errors.

I would like to open up this forum to anyone who has a pet sin of their own they would like to discuss here. Mostly because I am too lazy to thinkgeek of any new ones right now, also because it might be fun to hear varying viewpoints.


“Many people hear voices when no-one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.”
AutumnWriter
Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011 10:38:20 AM

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I hate to mention just one; there are so many. On a general level, the most aggravating thing is an author whose work makes it obvious that he/she has not even bothered to attempt to edit.

Some authors feel that adherence to basic grammatical ground rules detracts from their freedom of artistic spirit. They forget how confusing and disorienting it is for readers to cope with multiple, gross errors and how these errors can sometimes obscure the author's intended meaning. Literature is a two-way street (excuse the cliche) between author and reader. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our side of the work we forget the other side.

On the technical side, one area to look at is the proper punctuation of dialogue. Sometimes I read a story and it appears to me that the author was so unsure of the grammar rules in this area that he/she avoided using dialogue in the story, and that is a big loss.
DirtyMartini
Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011 1:28:18 PM

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AutumnWriter wrote:

On the technical side, one area to look at is the proper punctuation of dialogue. Sometimes I read a story and it appears to me that the authir was so unsure of the grammar rules in this area that he/she avoided using dialogue in the story, and that is a big loss.


That's an interesting one...I had some problems with proper punctuation in dialogue when I started, but it didn't prevent me from using dialogue anyway...happy8

So, Miss Yas is surprised at seeing work that wouldn't rate a high school level, eh? Come on now, are you really surprised? Lol...

I take it this thread is going to go way beyond "Seven" Deadly Sins...it's more of a continuous blog of writing gripes, and I could contribute...heck, I could post some of my own stories here...um, never mind...dontknow

Don't think it was mentioned before, but one of the most common errors I find among beginning writers is not starting a new paragraph often enough...

I have a general rule..."If in doubt, start a new paragraph"...I think it's safe to say you're better off starting a new paragraph too often than not often enough...

I once knew a drinker who had a moderating problem...

AutumnWriter
Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011 4:47:48 PM

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I heartily agree on the paragraph breaks.

On one hand, many authors run on and lose readers' attention. On the other, many don't begin a new paragraph when switching speakers in dialogue.

I use a practice to attempt to limit the number of sentences in any one paragraph to six. I might break the rule once per story, but there must be a compelling reason to do so.
unicorn92
Posted: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 3:37:39 AM

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This forum topic is great! I will be using this as a reference for my writing quite a bit.
Louise
Posted: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 3:48:38 AM

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I was reading a free book off kindle and they did the whole thing in a passive voice. I got to about page 10 and deleted it off my kindle. My problem was that I didn't give a flying fig for the protaganist or anyone else in the novel because I wasn't engaged at all. If ever I could do a 'how not to write a book' guide I'd point that book out.

New Poem out

The Observer
Louise
Posted: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 3:58:07 AM

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One of my pet peeves is when someone creates a character who is totally unbelievable without any flaws or someone who is too whiny. As someone who writes from a first person perspective I find character layering very important. Human beings are complex creatures and they should be portrayed in fiction as such.

It's called a one-dimensional character.

New Poem out

The Observer
Sherzahd
Posted: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 4:24:15 AM

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Louise wrote:
One of my pet peeves is when someone creates a character who is totally unbelievable without any flaws or someone who is too whiny. As someone who writes from a first person perspective I find character layering very important. Human beings are complex creatures and they should be portrayed in fiction as such.

It's called a one-dimensional character.


I agree. I need to feel a connection to the protagonist before truly enjoying a story. It doesn't really matter if he/she isn't likeable as a person, they need to be interesting as a character. "Layering" is the best word to describe it, every veil lifted should reveal something new and unexpected. I have to feel everything the characters feel, which is why passive voice would never work for me. I subconsciously end up writing only in first person, not sure why, but I should try something fresh soon.

“Many people hear voices when no-one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.”
AutumnWriter
Posted: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 5:52:40 AM

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Authors should avoid using cliches and hackneyed phrases. Although we might use them in everyday conversation, a literary work is a work of art and should be original. In addition, a cliche is usually a metaphor that is intended to imply a certain meaning to a situation ("Love is a two-way street"). It is never certain, however, that every reader will absorb the meaning of the metaphor in its intended way.

For example, love may be a relationship in which two people give and take to/from each other in a reciprocal way. A person might take that phrase to mean that Love is a situation in which a person gets trampled on from two directions.

This is especially true with internet publishing which reaches people in a number of countries and cultures.

There can be exceptions, such as when writing dialogue and trying to give characters certain attributes. Other cases might be those when the writer is attempting humor or satire. Those are specialized cases.

We are all guilty from time to time. Editing is the best way to weed out cliches prior to publishing.

DirtyMartini
Posted: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 5:32:01 PM

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AutumnWriter wrote:


This is especially true with internet publishing which reaches people in a number of countries and cultures.



Interesting thought, though I'm not sure a writer should necessarily avoid certain subjects or phrases simply because not everyone would be familiar...

For instance, I wrote a small series of erotic stories I had originally posted under the name 67Goat which were set back in the sixties...with references to sixties cars, music, etc...
I had someone translating some of my stories into Spanish for a site which largely reaches people in South America and the like, and I avoided those stories because I felt those readers would not understand the references...but, I would never avoid the subjects altogether in my stories...

Same with "cliches and hackneyed phrases" especially in dialogue...if it is normal for a character to use them in conversation, it would be wrong for an author to avoid them...as a US type person, I have had to look up certain English phrases when reading some authors, but I certainly would never expect a writer from that area to avoid them if they felt them appropriate...

I once knew a drinker who had a moderating problem...

AutumnWriter
Posted: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 7:07:16 PM

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All I said was that cliches can be misunderstood easily in a number of ways, and I did mention the exception for dialogue.

Cliches are really shortcut metaphors to imply a meaning. If a cliche doesn't add to the value of a piece, then find a better way to express your thought.

****************

Anyway, here's a new one. Using the word "now" when describing a progression of action taking place in the past tense.

Eg, "He was exhausted and panting now."

The word "now" means 'at this moment in the present time.' Using it as described above is incorrect. It is, however, a commonly committed error. I just heard it in a narrative on TV last night.

What would have been wrong with "He was exhausted and began to pant."?
Sherzahd
Posted: Thursday, October 20, 2011 10:24:18 AM

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AutumnWriter wrote:


Anyway, here's a new one. Using the word "now" when describing a progression of action taking place in the past tense.

Eg, "He was exhausted and panting now."

The word "now" means 'at this moment in the present time.' Using it as described above is incorrect. It is, however, a commonly committed error. I just heard it in a narrative on TV last night.

What would have been wrong with "He was exhausted and began to pant."?


I agree. It is important to check for inconsistencies in tense when doing a final edit. I know that I've made those very mistakes in the past. For example, with my story "Even the Clocks Stopped", I found quite a few tense errors a day or two after posting it. My suggestion would be to have someone with "fresh eyes" read your story before trying to submit it anywhere.

“Many people hear voices when no-one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.”
AutumnWriter
Posted: Thursday, October 20, 2011 11:20:14 AM

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One solution is to use a volunteer editor. Some other sites have a program by which volunteers will edit and propose corrections to a story prior to publication. Of course, an editor can be wrong, too. Some are good and some only "fair". At the least they can detect errors that are difficult to pick up when editing one's own work. When I first started writing I did all my own editing, thinking that I couldn't share the creative process with another person. Later, I changed my mind and I am glad that I did.

Some editors limit themselves to the mechanics of spelling, syntax, punctuation and grammar. Other will add the service of questioning things like clarity, connotation, consistency and other similar factors. I have a good back-and-forth relationship with my editor in this way. Sometimes I heed his advice and other times not. More often he will suggest an alternative to my version and in the end both versions get scrapped in favor of something better. The nature and limits of the editor's work has to be agreed at the outset of the relationship, and might grow over time.

It is not impossible to edit one's own work, but it is difficult. Your brain tells you what you want it to and a lot of things can get skipped.

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