I’ve written several blogs about ways to have sentence variety and clever sentence structures to use for emphasis and enhancement. Sentence variety is easily achieved by shifting the subject to other places in the sentence. (Here’s a practice.) This one, however, gets to the rudiments of Sentence Variety. Look for the others in the archives.
Finding Inspiration Where do writers find inspiration for their books? M.A. Lee chatters (or maybe it’s a lecture?) about the inspiration that sparked her creativity in writing her most recent release of historical suspense, The Key for Spies. Read her blog here. Purchase here.
As we continue our focus on the classic and not-so-classic marks of punctuation for the ends of sentences, we do need to spend a little time considering the sentence itself. What is it? How does it work? What’s important in it and about it? Here we go.
Planners: all are available now at Amazon. Blogs are available at the stated date.
- 2*0*4 Lifestyle: Cityscape blog and purchase here:
- 2*0*4 Lifestyle: Teatime blog and purchase here:
- 2*0*4 Lifestyle: Floral blog purchase here
- 2*0*4 Lifestyle: Meadow blog and purchase > here
- 2*0*4 Lifestyle: English Cottage blog and purchase here
- 2 * 0 * 4 Lifestyle Mountain River (no blog) available here
- 2 * 0 * 4 Lifestyle Woodland (no blog) available here.
More Devotional Blogs for Easter
- Palm Sunday
- Holy Monday
- Holy Tuesday
- Holy Wednesday
- Maundy Thursday
- Good Friday
- Black Saturday
- Bright Monday
- Bright Tuesday
- Bright Wednesday
- Bright Thursday
- Bright Friday
- Bright Saturday
Pro Writer Helps
Designed for Newbies on the path to Pro-dom (Is that a word?)
First Impressions / available February 2019.
- Catching Reader Attention: First Impressions
- First Impressions part 2
- Branding through Covers
- Covers help sell Books
- Titling and Back Cover Copy
Archetypes / Symbols: a few of the blogs in the year-long series / available now
- What is an Archetype? (includes a list of Carl Jung’s archetypal characters)
- The background to Archetypes
- the first blog examining each of Carl Jung’s character archetypes, starting with the Hero archetype
- the last blog examining Jung’s character archetypes
- the first blog about 7 Questions to Start the Ordinary World, the first stage in the Archetypal Story Pattern, based on Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and Christopher Vogler’s subsequent work called The Writer’s Journey. 7 Questions to start
- the last blog for the Archetypal Story Pattern, Return with the Elixir
- symbolic numbers
- symbolic colors
The year-long blog series goes into great detail about character and plot archetypes. I should turn this series into a book! That’s what I did for Think like a Pro.
Pro Writer Tips will post as blogs on the 1st and 15th of every month, beginning Feb. 2019.
Check the website calendar for the January blogs on guidance for key ideas to keep in mind when developing your brand and cover. Look above for the First Impressions blogs (5 in number).
MANUSCRIPT FORMATTING :: 7 + 10 things you need to know
This blog for the newbie gives a little guidance for the scary process of publishing your own work.
Think like a Pro: New Advent for Writers
Infographics (available now) give a taste of the chapter information in Think like a Pro. Here’s the blog list for the infographics:
- Deadline on a Dream
- Plan the Work / Work the Plan
- Understanding Plot
- 4 of 5 Basic Plot Methods
- Best Plot Method that I Know
- Aristotle’s 5 + 5 Essentials for Writers
- Overcoming Writer’s Block: Refusal
- Overcoming Writer’s Block: Procrastination
- Overcoming Writer’s Block: Stagnation
- Sparking Creativity
A little more about the Raison d’Etre of the book and the planner. 7 lessons (maintaining deadlines, keeping bum in chair, developing plot AND characters, overcoming writer’s block, sparking creativity, and being professional) give answers that newbies always ask.
- The book Think like a Pro, in two cover choices
To keep you on track with your writing, W.Ink Books has a Think/Pro companion planner: undated, project-focused, two-page weekly layout with daily word counts and progress meters. Monthly and seasonal reviews and previews along with additional trackers to help you maintain your writing goals. And the planners match the books!
Writers Ink Offers Services for Writers
EDITING / PROOFING : : Prices are here.
- Manuscript Proofreading
- Manuscript Content Editing
- MS Development Editing
Blogs about the Follies of Trusting the Grammar/Spelling Checker
- Grammar Phobia vs. Grammar Snobbery , including the 13 points for communication
- Use the Machine Grammar Checker Wisely
- Use it, Don’t Abuse It
- Vial Trolls, Take That!
- Also, check out the page for Home School Helps, which has slews of blogs on grammar.
MARKETING : : You can see pricing here.
Want to be published? The Think / Pro planner can help. [also in two cover choices, to match the manual 😉 ]
Do you start stories but never complete them? Do you wait on your muse while she hides behind trees and in caves?
Do you know how to write, but the mountainous novel seems insurmountable, with too many words and too few days?
Do you keep telling yourself “Carpe Diem”, but days speed by before you grab several hours to write?
Time to change “Seize the Day” into “Seize the Dream.” For success, you need to Think/Pro. This planner can help.
The Weekly Spread
A two-page week keeps you focused on three tasks, with room to record your day-by-day focus as well as a word count tracker for daily and accumulating totals. The Progress Meter, divided into writing stages and blocks for each ten percent of that stage, is a visual representation of your growing achievement in reaching your writing goal.
While daily word counts are important, I now advise writers to take one day off each week. Reserve that day for planning as well as completing a creativity exercise. On a back page is a list of 13 exercises to choose from. Reminders of the four basic Healthy Habits (walking, water intake, sunshine, and diet) offer daily fill-ins for those who like habit trackers.
Each week also showcases an inspirational quotation from a famous writer.
Analyze your Progress with Reviews and Previews
In addition to the weekly spread are Monthly Reviews & Previews and Seasonal & Yearly Planning pages. The planner begins with a brief look at your yearly goals, on the following page.
The Monthly Review has a Productivity Tracker and a Progress Meter as well as places to jot down Business Contacts and Expenses. Once tax time arrives, you will have compiled the necessary information in one location. And a Tax Tips for Writers lists on a back page the expenses you can record.
In planning, we sometimes neglect to consider obligations beyond our goals and objectives. On the Previews is a reminder of those commitments that keep us sane.
Seasonal Previews ask you to polish the nuts and bolts of your projected words per week and sharpen up the time remaining before your deadline. All the Reviews ask you to record your victories and consider your challenges.
The purpose of any planner is to keep us on track as well as to give us a look ahead. In this fast-paced world, it helps to have a physical reminder, one that is not dependent on the five and more tap-clicks that it takes to access the electronic calendar on a smartphone.
Grab a pen and this planner, and quickly jot down reminders and notes. As the Think/Pro planner is undated, you can start at any time of the year.
Available exclusively on Amazon!
Another Writers’ Guidebook: Old Geeky Greeks, available now.
Home School Helps
Home School Helps provides insight and instruction for high school level courses in the Language Arts. On this page are several pillars, in which you can find specific information in the form of blogs.
- Literature: Poetry (Eternal and Modern) which will contain Figurative Language (inc. Symbols and Archetypes) [alphabetized]
- Grammar/Usage/Mechanics, including the Grammar Monster blogs
- Composition: writing composed essays and essays of various types
- Using Technology to Assist Instruction
No literature study is complete without canonical literature. The literary canon is filled with works that have enduring themes, protagonists we all still related to, and well-crafted writing.
POETRY/ eTERNAL AND mODERN
In my three decades of teaching high school Engiish, I discovered that my students were extremely resistant to poetry–unless I first engaged them with modern songs, the poems that they heard and sang without realizing they were poetry. Intermingling canonical poems with modern songs can be challenging, so I offer this yearlong blog series. Listed below, in alphabetical order of the literary term which focuses the explication in the blog.
- Introduce easy metaphors and more with Rufus Wainwright’s “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother”, 4 Types of Love: eros, storge, agape, and philia.
- Allegories: Connecting the classical “Carmina Burana” by composer Carl Orff with the Eagles’ “Hotel California“.
- Allegories with riddling meanings: “Tapestry” by Carole King
- Allusions, in T.S. Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi” about New Year’s Resolutions, easy to spot by anyone who knows Christ’s story, the birth and crucifixion.
- The power of free verse: e.e. cummings’ “i carry your heart with me”. This poem is an excellent contrast to Sonnet 18, by William Shakespeare (see in this list at “sonnet”).
- Inference: the power of suggesting meaning: Cold Play’s “Clocks”
- Metaphors: Sting is a master of the unusual extended metaphor, often known as a metaphysical conceit. His “Fortress around your Heart” is the perfect conceit, in that it transforms the required object with an usual comparison and also develops the writer’s vanity (this time, in capturing the poem’s persona’s arrogance in this relationship).
- Another metaphor and one of M.A. Lee’s favorite poems: Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “First Fig”
- Paradox with dream and reality: One Republic’s “Counting Stars” . I despise the video that accompanies this song: some Hollywood director’s attempt to be edgy and cool by disrespecting religion–while the song has nothing to do with religion.
- Sonnet 18, “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?”, by William Shakespeare, one of the greatest love poems in the world.
- Symbols are a kind of shorthand for authors, just as allusions are a shorthand.
- Color symbols are used often, and knowledge of the symbolic meanings of colors can be revelatory: color symbols
- Numbers can also be symbolic. Once readers have a quick understanding of the basic meanings of number symbols, meanings expand exponentially.
- Symbolic numbers also structure Lynne Alvarez’s “She loved him all her life”, a perfect little free verse.
- Aristotle first expressed that literature should have three Unities: time, place, and action. The ancient philosopher was discussing necessities for dramas, but two famous modern poets played with the challenge of the 3 Unities: Robert Frost’s “Once by the Pacific” and Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Time Does Not Bring Relief”
- Verse Types: All poems are written one of three ways. Most of us think that all poems have rhyme. Two of the major forms of poetry–blank and free–have no rhyme at all. In the following paired blogs [blank then free then pure], I first explain the basic elements of the verse type while in the second blog I present the MMO of Old Masters & New Masters in working within that verse type.
- Blank Verse has 10 syllables in a metered line but no rhyme (the rhyme is “blank” or absent). Robert Frost, Terrence Williams, and Seamus Heaney give us three examples.
- Blank Verse: Means/Method/Opportunity ~ Macbeth’s famous speech, a selection from William Cowper’s “Winter Morning Walk”, another selection from Robert Frost’s “Birches”, and Wallace Steven’s “Plain Sense of Things” (a poem I did not know before I researched for this blog. I now think highly of this poem.)
- Free Verse has neither rhyme nor rhythm. George Herbert’s “Easter Wings” is one of the first examples of what we call shaped verse. Walt Whitman is credited with developing the catalog, and his “Song of Myself 26” is a great example. The simple free verse form that most of us are familiar with is best shown with two examples: Gwendolyn Brooks “We Real Cool” and Arcelis Girmay’s “Elegy” .
- Free Verse: Means/Method/Opportunity ~ Shaped Verse = Roger McGough’s “40 Love” and Carolyn Forche’s “Ancapagari, Catalog = Walt Whitman “I Hear America Singing” and Maya Angelou’s “Women Work” and Billy Collins’ “Introduction to Poetry”, Simple Form = Carl Sandburg’s “Bones” and Charles Simic’s “Stone”
- Pure Verse has both rhyme and rhythm. This explanation touches on Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and Edna St. Vincent Millay, with a closer look at Sara Teasdale’s “Christmas Carol”
- Pure Verse: Means/Method/Opportunity ~ Wilfred Wilson Gibson’s “The Stone”, Vachel Lindsay’s “This Section is a Christmas Tree”, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”, Eugene Field’s “Jest `fore Christmas” and C.C. Moore’s “The Night Before Christmas”.
4 Requirements of Song
- Dolly Parton’s “Wildflower” begins our look at these 4 Requirements of any poetry
- “Paper Cup” by Jimmy Webb (of the Fifth Dimension) continues to build on our understanding of the 4 Requirements
- Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” adds final touches to the 4 Requirements for poetry
Occasional Poetry: Lessons for Writers as well as Readers
- Mother’s Day > Li-Young Lee’s “I Ask my Mother to Sing”, George Barker’s “Sonnet to my Mother”, and Judith Viorst’s “Some Advice from a Mother to her Married Son”
- Father’s Day > Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays”, Jan Beatty’s “My Father Teaches Me to Dream”, Cecil Day Lewis’ “Walking Away”, and Li-Young Lee’s “The Gift”
- Patriotism (Memorial Day, Flag Day, Veteran’s Day) > Rupert Brooke’s “The Soldier”, Gwendolyn Brook’s “the sonnet-ballad”, and Carl Sandburg’s “Grass”
- Independence Day > Walt Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing”, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Concord Hymn”, Wilfred Owen’s “From my Diary: July 1914”, and Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address”
Grammar, Usage, Mechanics
- Grammar Phobia vs. Grammar Snobbery: The only reason for grammar is Clear Communication. An editor at The Guardian newspaper in Great Britain shares her tirade about people with grammar snobbery creating people who have grammar phobia. M.A. Lee shares her own 13 reasons that good grammar is essential for good communication.
- Grammar Starters, handouts that serve as 5-to-15 minutes beginnings for instruction.
Grammar Monster Blogs
- The Raison d’Etre of the blog series: Grammar Monster Introduction
- Handouts designed to start a foundation and use as fillers: A Few Grammar Helps
- The trickiness of language fossils: Irregular Verbs
- “I found a red boy’s sweater.” Why is that sentence wrong? Here’s a discussion of Modifiers: Misplaced and Dangling.
- CPR for Unclear Pronouns: Clear Pronoun Reference
- The special trickiness of their/there/they’re and how to distinguish among them
- Active vs. Passive Voice as well as the Expletives T/Here. Passive sentences and expletives remove the power from the true subject of the sentence. Because of this, passive and expletives should be avoided.
- Additional subject problems occur when the subjects are out of position, through use of modifiers and modifying phrases or through the question form
- Intro to five punctuation blogs: The Starters
Sentence Structure Blogs
- Inversions: Yoda Charm? Not quite. Switching words around in a sentence is a Star Wars gimmick, but writers have used inversions for centuries. The official terms are anastrophe and chiasmus (one of my favorites.)
- Creating Emphasis through Repetition: simple repetition, incremental repetition, auxesis (climatic ordering with sets of three), polysyndeton/asyndeton, and anaphora/epistrophe
Using Technology to Assist Instruction
- Using the Spell/Grammar Checker in a word processing program: find the blog here.
- Another look at the Grammar Checker