Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Word Wednesday October 26/11

This week I wanted to talk about proper capitalization for people's titles (mom, dad, teacher etc.). This always gave me hesitation, until I finally learned the correct way of doing it.

When to capitalize them:
You only give them a capital if the title replaces their actual name. For example:

When is Mom coming home?
When is Rita coming home?

In this case the word "Mom" replaces the mother's name, Rita.

When not to capitalize:
When you are placing an article or pronoun before the title. A good way to see if the title needs a capital is to insert their name and see if it makes sense. For example:

When is your mother coming home?
When is your Rita coming home?

Is the teacher here yet?
Is the Mrs. B here yet?

The second parts of each example don't make sense, so I know that the titles shouldn't be capitalized.

Hopefully that makes sense. If you have any questions or think I might have missed something, please feel free to comment.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Co-authorship and Me


Co-authorship, good idea or bad? This a question that I've been thinking about for a little bit now, and I have formed an opinion (of course). This is pretty much just my thoughts on it, and I'm almost positive that at least some one who reads this will disagree with me. If that's you, then please feel free to comment with your ideas. So here's what I think.

Writing a book with someone, whoever it may be, is a lovely idea. Emphasis on idea. "We'll bond so much!" or "They helped me come up with the idea, it's only fair to let them help me write it," are things that we often tell ourselves when we make the decision to co-author. Sometimes we don't even think about it, it just sort of happens. This is more like what happened to me; I was just chatting away with my sister and a story came out.

And so it began. I grabbed a dog eared sketch book (I know, it's a perfect medium) and started scrawling down the opening scene. Every few pages we'd trade off when the other got a burst of inspiration. Our miserable attempt at writing (we were younger then) worked for awhile. Eventually though we got busy and some how the trading off got lost. I wanted to work on it, but my sister didn't care to. So soon it became my story. There was no hard feelings between us about it, and honestly, I think it's been better this way. She knew the back round and understood my story, so she could listen to my rants and try to help me out when I hit snags. But, we were no longer writing it together.

I've written stories with my friends and its great fun, but we know deep down that our story will never get published. If you write simply for a good time, then co-authorship might improve your levels of fun, but if we are truly honest with ourselves I think most of us harbor that tiny spark of hope that someday our stories will be on the shelves at Chapters. Anyways, when writing with other people I find that commitment levels are different (one person wants to write all the time, the other does not. This can be frustrating.), both writers have different ideas of where the story should go, and if both of the writers don't have excellent communication skills then it's easy for the story to get left in a musty email inbox.

All of that being said, I feel like co-authorship can lead to an excellent relationship where the two writers push each other creating something wonderful. However, as a teen I don't think I have that sort of maturity and commitment to do that, especially since writing is not my full time career. Besides, I'm a bit of a control freak; I don't think I could handle writing with someone else, haha.

Co-authorship? Maybe later.

So that's my opinion. How about you? Agree? Disagree? Let me know.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Making it to the Top Shelf


Since I am quite busy, and not to mention a tad bit lazy, I thought that today instead of a normal Word Wednesday I'd share with you the essay I've been working on for English. It does talk about a few of the things I normally post about, but I thought you guys might enjoy it anyhow.

Making it to The Top Shelf

The other day my sister bought a new bookshelf. Being the big readers we are, our shelves were overflowing dog-eared copies of our beloved novels, so it was time to get a bigger shelf. We headed off to Ikea, came back toting a beautiful wooden shelf, and a couple hundred dollars poorer. After helping her assemble the “easy” DIY bookshelf, I took her ratty old shelf off her hands. With a good cleaning and a lick of paint, the shelf was as good as new. Eager, I unloaded the boxes that had been sitting stagnantly in my room since we moved. I was overwhelmed by emotions as I pulled out the cheap paperbacks that I had begged my mother to get me from the book order back in grade school. I had loved those books like they were part of my family. Needless to say, the shelves quickly filled up, but I saved the glorious top shelf for my favourites. After proudly displaying books like Harry Potter, Little Women, and the numerous Nancy Drew mysteries, I surveyed my selections wondering why I loved these books so.

Picture your favourite novel. Do you see it? Maybe it’s a worn leather covered classic. Maybe it’s a shiny new book you picked up from the nearest Chapters with the “new book” smell still lingering among the pages. Now, think about why you like it. Why do we find ourselves drawn to these top shelf books like Winnie the Pooh to honey? Well, I am convinced that good novels, the top shelvers, have three elements that have to be well: characters, plot, and writing.

Characters in a novel need to be well crafted and developed if an author wants to write a novel worthy of reading. Characters have to demand attention and emotions from the reader. A good character will reach through the pages and latch onto the readers’ hearts and make them care about where their fictional life ends up. They will also be relatable and entertaining. People read to escape the realities of this world and want to live vicariously through bold and fun characters. Take the popular (and not to mention wildly successful) Harry Potter series, those books are full of strong characters. You have Harry, the main character, who immediately draws on the reader’s emotions by being oppressed and parentless, and then you have the lovable Weasley twins that give us much needed comic relief. Readers invest in these characters and by book seven can’t wait to find out what happens to the magical crew. Top-shelf characters become our friends or enemies; either way they force us to turn the pages of their story and make us love them and dread the end of their tale.

Characters are nothing without plot, another aspect that must be there in order for a book to make it to the top shelf. Recently, I read a novel that had excellent characters, but the plot was non-existent. It had potential to be a favourite but because nothing actually happened it was a major flop. A great novel must have an inciting incident that grabs the reader’s attention and interesting rising action that leads to an amazing climax that no would see coming. For example, the classic Brontë novel, Jane Eyre, has a brilliant climax; the reader finds out that the love interest is hiding a deranged wife in the closet. Nobody would expect that! These types of plot twists are what we remember and what we love about our top-shelvers. Overall, a good novel needs a plot that can keep a reader involved. The actual mechanics of the written word and diction are often elements of top-shelf books that are overlooked, but contribute a great deal to a reader’s liking of a book.

EDIT: Haha, what a fail! I actually forgot to put the last paragraph in. So here it is:

We all have those favourite novels that we proudly display on our top-shelves, and we all love them for different reasons, but the staples of a good book (whether we realize it or not) are characters that tickle funny bones or make a home in a reader’s heart, plots that have readers sitting on the edge of their seats, and impeccable writing. So, once again I find myself where I started, admiring my bookshelf. Before I know it, the voices of Nancy Drew and Jo March are echoing in my ears, making me marvel at the quality of these top-shelf natives. I still wonder how these authors manage it, and then I realize that it is only when these three elements gel together with a perfect consistency that a wonderful novel is penned. And that, my friend, is easier said than done.


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