Category Archives: Wisdom Wednesday

In the Words of…. Grammar Police

Today we’ll handle two grammar faux pas at once.

First of all, something I didn’t think about as a problem and will have to watch to see if I’m perpetrating – When to use “Into” vs “In To”

This extremely quick and helpful article from Writer’s Digest discusses the differences made by the space bar and how to easily remember which version is correct while you write.

Following that, take a peek at how Grammar Police feel about Accepting and Excepting.

This less quick article from Writing Forward gives some helpful tips on keeping the homophones Accept and Except separated in your mind. Their major tip? To Acknowledge is to Accept, and Except is used in Exceptional cases.

…That will definitely make more sense once you’ve read Melissa Donovan’s full explanation.

Be free, my fellow writers! Discover how to avoid these two offenses, and the Grammar Police will steer clear of you that much more.

Ciao Tutti,

RM

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In the Words of Literary Agents…

Ultra-Special Scribbles (formally and maybe will be once again Ultra-Special Blah Blah Blah) is a book blog, although I know most of the normal posts aren’t about books at all.

So to take it back to what matters most to me, let’s talk about this great little article:

The Worst Ways to Begin Your Novel: Advice from Literary Agents.

Not only is the article extremely simple, but it is also very useful for aspiring novelists. Read through the comments from literary agents across the genres to see if you’re making a faux pas in your first chapter – which may be the only thing any agent will ever read from you.

It’s important to make a good first impression.

As Chuck Sambuchino, the article’s author, says, “Avoid these problems and tighten your submission!”

Ciao Tutti!

RM

Growing Up, in the Words of…

As a very old bit of wisdom says, “Growing old is mandatory. Growing up is optional.” And whether you believe it was said by Carroll Bryant, Chili Davis, Bob Monkhouse, your therapist, your mother, or someone totally different, it doesn’t matter. It’s not true.

I mean it is true. No one necessarily has to grow up. Unfortunately, most of us are forced into the act.

When you’re young, people praise you for being creative and asking questions and playing pretend and imagining great things. They tell you that you can be anything in the world, anything at all, when you get older. They praise your curiosity.

Then somewhere along the way they tell you to sit down and be quiet. The world spoon feeds you and tells you to grow up. Don’t do that. You’re too old for that. Stop finger painting and reading children’s books and watching fantasy and sci-fi shows and watching clouds and playing pretend and dancing in the rain and chatting up strangers while waiting in line and being so nice to people and being silly and enjoying bumper cars and laughing when someone farts and dreaming of being the president and JUST STOP trying to be something you’re not.

Well who decided what I’m not?

I certainly didn’t decide I wanted to stop helping the kids at church with their arts and crafts and learning fun songs about the endless and bountiful love of an all-powerful, accepting God. The assistant pastor told me I had to go play with the teenagers who teased me for things I couldn’t change and who never played anything I was good at or ever wanted to learn about anything religious. So I grew up, and I stopped loving religion. I stopped loving church because I was told I was too old to have fun there. I was too old to enjoy it.

I didn’t decide the playground was too childish for me or that laughing out loud was inappropriate. The parents who stare at me like I’m about to abduct their children even when I’m just on the swing set making myself dizzy decided that. The guy at 2 am at IHop who complained that me and some friends joking around was disturbing his meal decided that. I didn’t stop enjoying those things. I became ashamed of those things because of society.

I used to revel in my originality and my interests, and now I hide myself from even my extended family because the world has decided I must grow up, I must. I must grow up or I’ll fall behind. I must get a job at a desk or working for minimum wage. I must get a Doctorate. I must get married and have 2.5 kids and a dog.

But I want to wind down after working with a fantasy novel and play video games until I pass out and put bright highlights in my hair and go to work with it and get too emotional over television shows about people who don’t exist and sleep with a giant stuffed tiger and dream about traveling the world and having the job I always wanted to have and get my face painted at a carnival and play on the jungle gym and sing to myself in public and skip when I want to and break out into dance and have fun my way, not society’s way.

And who decided that I couldn’t? Because there’s something wrong in society when we force our citizens to give up on their dreams and to put aside originality to fit in and succeed and yet claim we want “creative individuals” in our job postings.

Growing old is mandatory, and in this world growing up is a rule. And if you break it, you’re either a success story told to inspire others to keep treading the mill or you’re a failure and society uses you to wipe their shoes after work.

Break the mold for a second with me and use your imagination.

What kind of world would we have if we let people keep dreaming as they got older? What kind of innovations would we have if we just let people grow whichever way they wanted to?

Stop telling people to grow up. The greatest horror this world imposes on us is the idea that we must grow up or be deemed a failure.

Ciao tutti,

RM

In the Words of Gail Carson Levine

Once again I find words of inspiration and wisdom from this lovely YA author.

“You will sometimes write paragraphs of staggering loveliness. You will! Probably you already have. You’ll want to have those paragraphs tattooed on your forehead where everyone will see them. Then you’ll discover that they don’t help you tell your story. Do not do not DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT bend your story to accommodate your brilliant words.”

– Gail Carson Levine, Writing Magic

When writing or creating art in any form, it is never helpful to try and retroactively force a work to fit a new piece. Instead, save that piece of beauty. Put it away for later. Finish what you’ve started and use that brilliant bit for the next project or the one after that.

I came up with a frame of a story once but I had no filling for it. So I put it aside. I came up with a filling once, but no idea how to connect it. So I put it aside. I later realized they could fit together. Although I have not begun work on their joint project, they found they could work together. What crummy work would I have produced if I had tried to force these pieces into an unwilling union with whatever ideas I’d been scribbling out at the time of their conception?

Do not hurt yourself to produce art.

That is the most important thing I can think of to sum this all up. Do not become a detriment to yourself in favor of one small paragraph of brilliance. You will hurt your art, and you will forever be upset at yourself for the outcome. Instead of forcing it, save that piece for later. Or, if you must, discard that piece forever. You may hate yourself for a time, but it wasn’t meant to be and you will eventually understand that your work was better for it.

Ciao tutti,

RM

In the Words of Chris Colfer

“In what grade do we stop believing in ourselves? What grade do we stop believing, period? Someone has to be a Nobel prize winner. Someone has to be a ballerina. Why not us?” – Carson Phillips, Struck by Lightning (written by Chris Colfer)

It’s a valid point made in the small indie film ‘Struck by Lightning.’ Carson spends the entire film trying to make people care about creativity. While he seems to be looking out only for himself and his own future, it’s also true that he spends his life being the only spark of light in a town that has given up. Without him, the school would be filled with nothing but stereotypes with nothing to do.

At what stage in life do children stop wanting to be the president, a fireman, a superhero, a pirate? When do we let their urge for adventure die out? How do we let that desire for greatness get snuffed?

Never let your light grow dim. Never let the fire inside you turn to smoke.

We are stalling, our engines aren’t rolling over, and we can’t move down the road as we are. Call the mechanic! We can all still be great. We all need to strive for our dreams, even the ones we think others will make fun of us for. Ignore the society trying to put out the flames and remember what it was like to be a child. Remember the dreams you had and the fever you had for them. It’s depressing that so many of us have given up hope before we’ve even reached high school.

Keep believing!

Ciao tutti,

RM

So Quotable – In the Words of… You!

 

The above photo is a quote from the novel I’m currently working on. It is, perhaps, one of my favorite lines so far written, although it’s for a scene that has not yet happened.

Have you ever seen one of those beautiful quote images with one of your favorite writer quotes or actor quotes on them and wondered how to make them? Have you really wanted to find out how to create them because you know of a really good, underrepresented quote to put on one?

Well, thanks to the internet, I have found a nifty little site to cure all of those problems. Recitethis.com lets you input your own words and pick a template to put them on. Then you can share the image on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, or your own blog.

I enjoy it because it makes my own words look large, important, and professional. I believe I’ll keep a few of these, filled with my own words, to inspire me whenever I feel like I’m slipping in my resolve to my work. Since I found it so useful, I thought someone else might as well, so go. Make yourself feel important and immortalize yourself with a quote or two – or twenty.

Ciao Tutti,

RM

In the Words of E.O. Wilson

In a recent post by Rachelle Gardner, she quoted and wrote about a video featuring E.O. Wilson, “often referred to as one of today’s greatest living scientists.”

She presented three quotes by Wilson and left them for the readers to contemplate. The first one hit me the most.

“Ideas emerge when a part of the real or imagined world is studied for its own sake.”

Not only does this remind me of how I was told true literary dissection and analysis should be done, it is also the most fun way to approach a book or movie or life. Sometimes, I don’t want to connect the plot or event or emotion in a story to anything other than the story. I want to explain why something is amazing and beautiful without needing to reference four theorists or directors or similar works. This theme, this idea, this character is poignant because it is, not because of something someone else said or did. Only when we realize that will we truly get anything out of the original work. Otherwise we forget its importance under all the other junk.

The greatest paper I ever wrote was dissecting the William Shakespeare play “Twelfth Night”, and I chose that topic myself. I chose to use that play because I had read it previously but had been unable to justify the duke’s sudden interest in Viola at the end when he had never shown interest in her previously. It felt like a cop-out I wasn’t used to seeing in Shakespeare. So for my paper, I decided to go back and prove that Duke Orsino was in love with Viola even when she was Cesario, in turn proving that the duke was bisexual or just didn’t care about gender. He loved who he loved.

I used no outside sources. I quoted no scholars. I used the text to analyze the text. Not only did I receive a 100% and standing ovation from my professor, but I fell in love with that play more than I can say. I not only proved to my self that Duke Orsino truly was in love with Viola before the play was even half over, I found character traits about him that I had previously overlooked that made him endearing and not just horny. Had I been forcing myself to find quotes from scholars to support myself, I wouldn’t have gone half as deep. I would have found the pieces that connected to what everyone else was saying, and my own opinion would be lost under the opinions of others.

As E.O. Wilson says, we should study the world, whether in real life or in a story, for the purpose of studying the world – not to link it to outside theories. That’s when our own ideas form, when our own journeys and understanding truly begin. That’s when you fully enjoy what you’re learning.

In the Words of John Steinbeck

Ever feel like no one appreciates your work? You’re friends and family praise you and one random stranger, but two other strangers rip into your work and so none of the others feel like the truth?

Take this note from famous author, John Steinbeck:

“Unless a reviewer has the courage to give you unqualified praise, I say ignore the bastard.”

If you enjoy writing, if someone you know enjoys it too, if you’re insanely popular – no matter what your critics say, just remember that you aren’t writing for them. You’re writing for you.

And that’s all I have to say about it.

Ciao Tutti

RM

In the Words of John Lennon

The quote has circulated the internet since people started circulating quotes. Before that, it was said in an interview. Since the day he said it, John Lennon’s words have been famous, and they have explained life perfectly.

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

What you have to understand about life is that no matter how high you climb in the social ladder, how many books your get published, how many paintings you sell, how many stocks you sell, how powerful you become on Wall Street you can still be miserable.

Happiness is key in life, just as John Lennon’s mother told him. If you aren’t having fun, aren’t enjoying what you do… you won’t be happy even if you become successful doing it.

My motto in life is to always have fun no matter what you do – which is why I always tell people to “Have fun” when they head out for school or work or a meeting. “I’m heading to work. See you later.” “Have fun.”

The response I usually get is “yeah right” or “Suuure”, which brings to light how many people don’t have fun doing what they do everyday. I makes society a sad and annoyed place. You should try to have fun so that you can stay happy so that the world is a brighter place for you and for the people around you. Always look on the bright side of things and you will begin to see your world view change accordingly.

The goal in life is to be happy, not to be successful. Remember that and you will never go wrong.

Ciao Tutti!

RM

In the Words of W. Somerset Maugham

After updating my blog, there was this quote sitting in the sidebar, smiling at me. I don’t know how it got there, or why it was that particular quote. It crawled out of a hole in time, space, and literary secrets to present itself to me. It made me smile, so I thought I’d share it with the rest of you.

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.— W. Somerset Maugham

And there it is. Unfortunately, I don’t have much to offer to aid the quote, as I’m sure everyone can understand the meaning of it rather easily. But just in case you’re worried your idea might be wrong, let me put your mind at ease.

What Maugham is saying is that this is no set way or rule to writing a novel. Yes, somewhere in the universe of secrets there are three exact rules for writing that will get you instantly famous and everyone will love you more than baby kittens who sneeze and fall over into more kittens, but the fact you have to understand is that no one in the history of the world knows what these key rules are.

There is no way to know for certain what your writing will be liked by anyone but your best friend since second grade or your ever-loving mother figure. There’s no way to guarantee your story, poetry, or play will be made into a movie, gain more than a few thousand fans, create a new entry into the dictionary, inspire a theme park, change lives, or last 1,000 years into the future so The Doctor can tell his companions that you’re the best-selling novelist of all time. There is just no possible formula known to man, woman, or publisher to figure out how or why any fandom becomes as popular as it does. It’s 60% skill, determination, and knowing the right people… and the other 40% is simply luck.

So enjoy yourself while you’re writing. Write at your pace and about the things you care about. Be yourself and hope for the best. Maybe you aren’t lucky now, but maybe one day the right person will see your book on the shelf and your luck with explode.

Good luck in luck, fellow writers.

Ciao tutti!

RM