My photo op with Misha Collins, Mark Sheppard, and my friend (I’m on the left)! I’m an English teacher, and I’ve always wanted to do a stupid pose for a photo op. This year, I finally got the guts to do it. I had everyone pose with grammar books. I told them to act like the books were amazing. This is what I got instead.
After the photo, Mark handed the book to me. Misha then handed his but wouldn’t let go. He gave me pretty much the exact face he’s making here. I thanked him and grabbed the book, but he still didn’t let go and continued to stare at me. Finally, he let go and I thanked him again.
Later at Misha’s panel, he talked about how some English teacher made him pose with grammar books and how he felt like it was some kind of slight against him. You’re welcome, Misha! I’m glad I could make such an impression on you.
lvtvr’s writing tutorials, pt 1: battling my nemesis (or, how to punctuate dialogue)
kids. I’m Charlie. I write.
translated and proofread four full-length novels, so I now suffer from the work-related
condition of never being able to turn my editing glasses off. This can make
reading fanfic a bitch for me. Because, let’s be real: unbeta’d amateur work easily lets a lot of mistakes slip through.
It is, however, possible to minimize those mistakes.
world going to end if there are errors in your fanfic? Of course not. If you
want to focus on the content of your writing more than adhering to rules of language, by
all means, do that. There’s time to learn this stuff later.
know what? Formatting matters. If you truly want to get better at writing, then
eventually you are going to have to
deal with this aspect of it. And yes, it’s hard work – but I hope to help you along the way.
THE POINT OF THIS ESSAY: PUNCTUATING
to be the #1 formatting problem that amateur writers struggle with. However, there are boatloads of experienced fanfic writers who still seem
to struggle with it, or are just so used to making mistakes that they’ve made
it “their style.” And at the risk of sounding like a total bitch, it doesn’t matter how amazing or
well-loved their work is otherwise: wrong
is still wrong. Just because someone is consistent about always writing “your”
instead of “you’re” doesn’t make it correct, and dialogue is no different.
If these kinds of persistent mistakes don’t bother you, then good for you. Your life is
probably a lot more fun than mine.
But if you want to learn to do it right – if you
want the great look and perfect flow that immaculate punctuation will bring
your writing – then you have to rise above this.
COMMA VS. PERIOD – THE ULTIMATE SHOWDOWN
with something simple.
This is a
good sentence. This sentence is an upstanding member of our society. You can’t
go wrong with this sentence. Got me? Okay.
have a look at another one.
sentence is a delinquent. In fact, it’s not even a sentence
it’s two sentences. And it is always, always, always wrong. Rule of thumb: never do this.
just some elitist, snooty gatekeeping crap, either. There’s a purely functional reason why it’s incorrect.
a period after your dialogue, you are cutting it off from whatever comes next. Whatever follows dialogue that ends with a
period has to be an independent sentence. This distinction is used to
regulate the rhythm and flow of the writing.
is a transitive verb, meaning it needs to
take an object. While you can sigh, yawn, or laugh independently of anything else, “saying”
isn’t possible unless you are saying SOMETHING. (I.e., “She laughed” is a
complete sentence on its own; “He said” isn’t.) Same goes for synonyms of “say,”
such as whisper, repeat, and exclaim. They almost always get lonely without some dialogue attached to
them with a comma.
at some examples.
“I’m fine,” he said.
example IS NEVER CORRECT. NOT EVER. It
should ALWAYS be the latter. ALWAYS.
“I’m fine.” He laughed.
examples are BOTH CORRECT, but convey different nuances. In the first example,
he laughs the words. In the second, he says the words first, and laughs
afterward. These are separate things, not
two different ways to express the same idea. No matter how much fic you’ve read
where they’re treated as synonymous, they are not. They are not. They are not.
FUNKY WITH “?” AND “!”
sentence in dialogue ends with a question mark or exclamation point, you always keep that punctuation – you never
replace it with a comma. This is where we use the above rule to make sure
things don’t get ambiguous.
“What’s up?” They yawned.
examples are BOTH CORRECT. In the first, they are yawning the words. In the
second, they yawn after speaking. By capitalizing “they,” you are indicating
that the question mark is behaving like a period. You are thereby orphaning the
sentence that follows the dialogue. In this case, since the sentence can stand
alone, that’s perfectly fine.
the boy repeated.
“I’m okay!” The boy repeated.
first example is CORRECT. The second is ALWAYS WRONG. Remember, capitalizing “the”
means you are drawing a line between the dialogue and the following sentence. “Repeated”
needs an object, but now, because the exclamation point is behaving like a
period, “The boy repeated” stands alone. That’s an ungrammatical sentence, and without the implied attachment to the preceding dialogue, it drifts alone in the void.
And, well, that’s not good.
section to address this other weird shit I’ve seen:
He murmured, pouring himself another cup of coffee, “I promise.”
This is a
big WTF that has basically just reversed the correct order of things. It should
he murmured, pouring himself another cup of coffee. “I promise.”
pretty cool.” The doctor laughed, turning to her girlfriend, “You should try it.”
We have two
options to fix this, depending on if we want her to laugh the words or not.
pretty cool,” the doctor laughed, turning to her girlfriend. “You should try it.”
(laughing as she speaks)
pretty cool.” The doctor laughed, turning to her girlfriend. “You should try it.”
(laughing after speaking)
especially when you start working with more complex sentences, things can get
confusing, and your options can increase. Feel free to shoot me a message if you’re not sure. However, the
rules above are the basic ones to keep in mind.
made it to the end! If it feels like a lot, that’s because it is. Yes, it’s
plenty to remember, because writing is hard. Try to think about these rules when you’re reading published books (not fanfic, you can’t trust fanfic), and
eventually you’ll get the hang of it.
Last night, while I was watching RuPaul’s Drag Race, I shared a special moment with my dad. First of all, let me start off by saying that my father has always absolutely hated anything to do with Drag Race. I wouldn’t label my father completely as homophobic, but I believe that watching an hour of feminine men with wild personas makes him somewhat uncomfortable. In the past, he has been extremely embarrassed to even be in the same room as me while I would indulge in my favorite television show, but yesterday was different. During the live comedy segment of the episode, my dad happened to be in the room searching for his missing cellphone. As he finally, and slowly, made his way towards the couch, still in search for his phone, Bianca Del Rio appeared on the stage and began her routine. After Bianca made a joke comparing the audience members to the cast of Cocoon, my dad sat down next to me and began laughing loudly at the rest of Bianca’s jokes. At first I was taken completely off guard, but my eyes glanced back on Bianca and I began to laugh at the jokes with him. “You know, he reminds me a lot of Mel Brooks, or Mickey Rooney. He is a really talented performer,” my father said. I have honestly never been more proud in my life. Because of Bianca, I was able to watch the rest of the episode with my dad, and we truly bonded for the first time in years. I have more respect and love for my father, all thanks to this absolutely fabulous and hilarious queen.
The thing about fictional worlds is, that once you begin to know them, you don’t just seal them into your heart. You leave a piece of your heart with them. One piece of your heart becomes them. And after one by one, you are rather living in those worlds, than in reality. This is the reason why they mean so much to you - not just a place to escape, but family and a home that gives you a reason to live. And that’s why only the idea of saying goodbye to them, breaks your heart. Because you can’t just rip out your heart, can you?