Saturday, February 16, 2008

Taking my own sweet time

Can I just say that I love Wikipedia? Yes, yes, I've had plenty of other writers tell me what an amazing site it is, and how it's one of their favorite resources. Did that make me run right out and learn for myself? No, of course not. I have to learn everything on my own. It's no fun if I learn from others--it would make things too easy. That doesn't mean I've never used it before, when it came up and my other research sources bottomed out. From now on, I'm thinking it's going to be at the top of my list.

Today I was searching for information on some cities in New York, as one of my many works in progress is partially set there. When I checked the city web sites, in an attempt to try and figure out if I want to keep one character living in Albany, or move them elsewhere, I went to the city's website. Sometimes city websites offer pertinent information for my needs. In this case, not so much. The Wikipedia page was perfect though, with more information than I had expected.

Now I have a dozen other things I want to look up.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

No, the sky isn't falling. I'm still here.

It seems every time I turn around, I'm learning about some other aspect of writing in which I'm not quite coming up to scratch. On the last manuscript I submitted, I was told the exposition was completely out of control. When I started looking it over, I realized how right the editor was. I took out my highlighter and hit all the exposition in pink. It was so embarrassing when I realized how bad it was. Now I'm paying far more attention to that, I've been prodded in another area.

OK, so this is somewhat less critical than reams of boring exposition filling my opening pages, but it's still shows a lack of skill. And again, it's embarrassing.

Last spring I wrote a piece of fan fiction--don't ask, I won't tell anyone what is it or where to find it, not did I write it under my real name. Anyway, it was lengthy, fairly well written and reasonably slim on exposition (in my humble opinion). What it has major problems with is punctuation.

In the past couple of months, I have been reposting the story on another site where the administrators suggest corrections so the stories are reasonably well written--an unusual occurence in the land of fan fiction, which you know if you have ever read any.

For someone like me, who has always thought she had a handle on punctuation, it has been a struggle to face the fact that I am comma impaired. I'm constantly leaving them out, adding them where they aren't needed, or using them instead of periods or semi-colons. For the first time in ages, I've pulled out my Chicago Manual of Style. Unfortunately, that has led me to realize that I need a basic grammar refresher as well.

When I look at a sentence, I can tell you if something is wrong grammar-wise and how to fix it, but don't ask me to tell you why. I just know it's wrong. Unfortunately, I need to know what the kinds of phrases and participles are if I'm to analyze the sentences to decide where and how to punctuate it.

Meanwhile, I'm working on submissions for the first chapter contest at the LDS Storymaker's conference coming up the next of next month. This has me wondering if I can write anything that even remotely resembles quality in the first thirty pages of my stories. The deadline is drawing near and I'm desperately trying to turn my first chapters into works of art instead of piles of, er, exposition.

On the EMT front, I have finished my classes, and taken my state tests. Just today I received word that I've passed them both and will shortly received proof of my certification in the mail. Woohoo!

Now if I can stay away from making yard art long enough to get my first chapters revised. More on my yard art another day.