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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Forty-Three

Updated on April 20, 2015

And We Are Back

I was worried for awhile that the Mailbag would not appear this week. No questions came in and then suddenly, on Thursday, I was flooded with them. So here we are again, a bit rushed but still, here.

You ask, I answer, and hopefully we all come out of it wiser and satisfied. Kind of like being in a relationship, now that I think about it. J

Let’s get started with a great question from Brandi! Remember, if you have a question, simply add it to the comment section below and I’ll answer the following Monday.

Welcome to the Mailbag
Welcome to the Mailbag | Source

Big Words

From Brandi: “Hi, Bill! I’ve got a question for you, or maybe I’m just spouting off about a pet peeve of mine. I read some writers, and they use words I don’t understand, or I don’t think fit into the story. It’s like they go through a dictionary to find intellectual-sounding words, but in my opinion they ruin the flow of the story. What do you think about that?”

I absolutely love this question.

I am a big believer in having a thesaurus nearby, and I’m a big believer in expanding our vocabulary. I think many writers get lazy and continually use the same words over and over again, when a simple visit to the thesaurus would bring life to their writing.

Having said that, I know exactly what Brandi is talking about and I agree. There are times when using big words can ruin the rhythm and flow of a story or article, and when that happens, what’s the point in using them? Or using big words to impress, but failing to understand that the average reader has no clue what those words mean. Again, what’s the point in doing that? When I read, I read for enjoyment or for knowledge. If I have to take a break to look up the meaning of a word, I will lose interest in the story or article.

I think there is a fine line we walk as writers. I want to entertain. I want to inform. But I don’t want to confuse or annoy. As a former teacher I’m all for expanding knowledge, and I’m all against dumbing down civilization…but….I have to remember that I don’t want to have the message lost in a blizzard of four-syllable words that no one will comprehend.

Be careful writing about family members
Be careful writing about family members | Source

My Experience

From Joshua: “Bill, I love this series. I’ve got a personal question for you so I hope you don’t mind me prying. Have you ever written about someone in your family, or a close personal friend, and hurt their feelings? I just had that happen to me and I feel horrible about it. I was wondering if you’ve done the same thing and what can be done about it?”

Well, Joshua, the answer is yes, I have, and I regret it now.

In my case, I wrote about a relative. I changed her name but there was no doubt to my other family members whom I was writing about. In an effort to be creative and entertaining, I failed to take into account the ramifications of my words, and those words did, indeed, hurt feelings.

What did I do? I apologized and moved on. I learned from it, and I probably will choose to leave family out of any future articles. It’s just not worth it to me. Was what I said true? Yes, but that doesn’t mean it should have been written.

There is no end to the distractions at our home
There is no end to the distractions at our home | Source

DISTRACTIONS

From Lacey: “The weather is warming up and I can see the time coming when I will be distracted by it and my writing will suffer because of it. You’ve been doing this writing thing for a long time now. How do you deal with distractions?”

Any freelance writer, or for that matter any writer, will face this problem. Life goes on. There will always be distractions, and I really think it comes down to how important your writing is to you. Is it a priority? If so, then you push the distractions aside and soldier forward.

A neighbor, last week, asked me if I could go to the Goodwill and pick up a piece of furniture for her. This was on a Wednesday at eleven in the morning. I had work to do. She needed someone with a pickup truck and so she asked me.

I told her as politely as possible that it was a work day for me and I would be glad to pick up her furniture that evening. She was upset with me.

Oh well!

Writing is my job. I’m sorry she doesn’t understand that, but I have to do what I have to do. I am a giving human being and I always try to help others, but in that case I did what was best for me and my livelihood.

Selfish? I don’t think so!

Incomplete Sentences and Dangling Whatevers

From Piper: “I was reading a novel the other day and I was a bit surprised that the author broke so many grammatical rules. He was very fond of incomplete sentences. “Can’t do a thing about it,” and others of similar style. I was wondering what you think about breaking the rules like that?”

I do it too, Piper, so that should tell you my feelings on it.

Listen, I’m all for grammatical rules. I’ve said many times that writers need to get serious and learn basic English. However, there are times when breaking the rules just works for the flow and rhythm of the story or article. I happen to love free-flow verse, a stream-of-consciousness style of writing that I think is very effective when trying to portray a blizzard of thoughts in a jumbled mind, or when trying to speed up the action in a story. Is it proper English? Hell, no, but it sure is powerful and that makes it right as far as I’m concerned.

Ebook Publishing

From Mandy: “I’m confused about something and I hope you have the answer. If I self-publish an ebook, does that mean traditional publishers won’t touch it? I don’t want to ruin my chances of being picked up by an agent or publisher because I already self-published.”

Mandy, you aren’t the only one confused about this. Let me tell you what I’ve found out on this subject.

It is possible to self-publish a book and then have a traditional publisher pick it up. It is not a common occurrence but it happens. Usually it happens when the ebook sales soar, and the sales figure I’ve heard is “over 10,000.” Sales like that get the attention of people in the industry.

The general rule of thumb, though, is that traditional publishers don’t like to take on projects that have already been published online. If you think about it from their standpoint it makes sense. Number one, traditional publishers are not big fans of the ebook craze, and number two, they are going to invest a great deal of money into publishing your book, and they sure don’t want to know that a segment of the reading population already has access to that book.

So, should you do it? That’s your call completely.

I’ll See You Next Week

Thanks to all who came through at the last minute with questions. I hope all of you have the best week of writing that you’ve ever had. Improve each week. Try to improve each week. Write one incredible sentence, a sentence so good that it blows the socks off your audience. That sentence will be part of your legacy, and it will live on long after you have died.

2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Deb. My family is dwindling, but I do have to be careful with those that remain. Feelings do get hurt and many times I'm clueless about it all.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Either luckily, or unluckily, I really don't have family to speak of. I can see where it could be a battle zone to write about relatives. Even with changing names, the dirt sure gets around with the human trait known as the rumor mill. Thanks for bringing up something once again that had not even crossed my mind.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      We do have to be careful, Glimmer. I wish we could write whatever we wanted, but there are some out there a bit more sensitive than I am and I have to be aware of them. Thanks for sharing that.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 2 years ago

      Interesting questions, but my favorite was writing about family members. When I first started here I wrote a hub about that was funny about something. This was before anyone knew I wrote online. It was published for a few months and then I decided to unpublish it. I'm glad I did because now everyone knows I write online and it would not have been a good thing if they had read that.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are very welcome, Monia. Thank you for visiting.

    • monia saad profile image

      monia ben saad 2 years ago from In my Dream

      very intersting hub thank you for sharing it with us

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I figured it out, Lawrence, but thanks for coming back. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      No doubt about it, Lawrence, and I appreciate you mentioning that. It is vitally important to know who your target audience is; otherwise, it seems to me, you might be wasting a whole lot of effort for very little gain.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      I meant to say D.I.Y (predictive text can be a challenge!)

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      As always advice worth it's weight in gold. I found the first question interesting and thought a bit about it. I also think it's important the writer knows who the target readership is. If I'm writing a FIT piece I wouldn't use the same language as writing on the same subject in a technical manual! Knowing whose going to be reading the piece tells you what language you should be using

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh, Misty, I don't feel like you are disagreeing at all. I was a teacher. I hate the dumbing down of this country. But still, if you want to sell many books, a writer must consider his/her target audience. Otherwise you'll only sell ten books, all to people like you and me. :) Thank you for the visit. I appreciate it.

    • Misty Bluge profile image

      Misty Bluge 2 years ago from Pennsylvania

      This was most interesting; but I'm going to have to politely disagree about the use of vocabulary. I read not just for entertainment, but also for enlightenment. I have broadened my vocabulary and mastery of language through some of the great writers of the last century. I had to look up plenty of words while reading Sense and Sensibility and I enjoyed every moment. Sometimes I fear we are losing our command of the English language. Listening to the young people speak is proof enough of it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Frank. Maybe one day my two cents will be worth a few bucks, and I can go buy a mocha with the money. :)

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

      again another mail bag worth the read and Mandy's question caught my eye and yeah I do agree with your answer.. or at least it makes sense to me..:) thanks for sharing you answers with us Billybuc :) your two cents is worth far more than two cents..

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Exactly, bizwin. It seems to be a tough concept for some people to understand. Thanks for adding that.

    • bizwin profile image

      Christabel Evans 2 years ago from England, UK

      Those were very useful questions and answers. Because many freelance writers write from home, does not mean writing is not a job. You did the right thing!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hi Kailey! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a great comment. I always enjoy your input. The weather warming up can be a serious distraction for me. It is a true test of my willpower. :) As for the neighbor...like you said...sigh!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad to hear that, ChitrangadaSharan....we all keep learning and I love that.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Linda. I appreciate it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Flourish. I'm so glad this series continues to be fresh and interesting.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Vellur. I hang out with some very smart people. They make me look smarter. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      tireless, that is an excellent rule of thumb, one I had to learn the hard way. Thank you for sharing that.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I am well, Jo, and I hope you are as well. Thank you for asking, and thanks for your input on this.

    • social thoughts profile image

      social thoughts 2 years ago from New Jersey

      You received some great questions, and gave some perfect answers!

      On the response to Brandi's question, I completely agree that every writer should take advantage of a thesaurus. I think I already said this when you were writing about an author you like, but they kept using the same word. Like you said, throwing in a bigger word can definitely screw up your writing. So, always consider your audience!

      With Lacey's question, I see the weather warming up as a good thing. Going for walks when blocked can be very helpful, and the weather itself can inspire writers. I don't think it should be seen as a distraction to the extent that one won't write. That's just my opinion. As for that neighbor of yours, Bill, talk about rude! Just because someone asks you to do something doesn't mean you have to drop everything. It's not like it was a life-threatening situation. *sigh* People...

      I look forward to the next one!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Interesting questions and as usual enlightening answers.

      I learnt some more writing tips from this hub, especially from the first question.

      Keep up the good work. Thanks and voted up!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Interesting and useful, as always, Bill!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      This was a particularly good one. I liked the family question and the e book question, too. Keep going, Bill!

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      Interesting and questions and answers, learned a lot today. Great series.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 2 years ago from California

      Madaline L'Engle used family members extensively in her writing. She admitted it long ago in her non fiction. As much as I loved her as a teen , I am sad to read her children were hurt by their mothers writing.

      Your reminder to to be careful to protect family is very important.

      One person I write about frequently is my best friend. She is also one of my Beta Readers, which gives her say about what I write.

      Rule of thumb; ask permission before you write about a real person.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Bill, this mailbag is stimulating and thought-provoking as always, great Q&A. I have to admit to using new words that I haven't come across before, but mostly in my poems. However, I do rigorously check them out and hope I use the words appropriately. The question on publishing ebooks is indeed one that many of us are pondering, I sure. Nice work!!

      I hope you're well, my best always.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      drbj, I think your approach is the best. I wish I had thought of that before annoying the hell out of a family member. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great question, Sha, and I'll have your answer next Monday...really good question. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      PS, take care of that girl. That's your priority and I understand completely. Sending love your way, dear friend, and thank you.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you John! I think I've learned my lesson regarding family. No more of that for this boy. As for big words...my main concern is ruining the flow. I think that is crucial.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Besarien. I have to be very careful when I make up characters that they don't resemble anyone I know. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mona, when the time comes it will be the right time. I know you'll publish a quality book when you do publish. Thank you and best wishes to you always.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Faith, I had no idea you had written anything lately. I didn't get a notification on it because for sure I would have been there. My goodness I'm sorry. Heading there right now.

      blessings always

      bill

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      Fascinating questions you included in this Mailbag version, Billy. When it comes to the possibility of offending a subject, I find myself doing that constantly with my interviews with celebrities. That's why I have chosen, for the most part, deceased luminaries to interview. They can't take offense and they most definitely cannot sue.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Hey, Bill! I'm back because I have a question. I was going to wait to ask Janet Reid, but I'm not close enough to completion, so I'm posing my question to you.

      How do you feel about subheading chapters?

      On one hand I think they act as a spoiler alert; the reader knows what to expect. On the other hand, I feel they can push the reader forward. Say the reader has read 100 pages and wants to stop. Giving a hint of what is to come may propel the reader to move forward.

      Then again, from a publishing standpoint, will naming chapters mean a table of contents needs to be added to the novel? I can see it in a non-fiction novel or a how-to type book, but I don't expect to see a table of contents in a fiction novel. You don't want a reader to pick and choose. Rather, you want him to read from cover to cover.

      What say you, my friend?

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      I just wrote this long message and lost it..poohie...

      Just know that I will keep on reading these..am not on so much as I am mmmmoving to help my girl...

      Take care of you and yours

      many Angels and blessings are winging their way to you this afternoon ps

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Another batch of great questions this week Bill, just when you thought they'd died off. I particularly liked the first one by Brandi. I find myself using a thesaurus more and more these days but I am turned off by too many big and odd words in an article. It can very easily ruin the flow. The one about writing about family members is also one we all have to concider. Maybe we need to ask ourselves would we be willing to let "that" person read our article. I enjoyed this. Have a good day.

    • Besarien profile image

      Besarien 2 years ago

      I find myself editing answers that I give here to cut out references to my family. I can't imagine how hard that would be if I were to decide to write novel. Family is so much a part of our experiences. More excellent advice as always, billybuc! Thanks for sharing! Voted up!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sara, you are a beautiful writer. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and I hope you never change your style. We need more writing like yours in this world.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad to hear that, Eric. Thanks, as always, for stopping by.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you for sharing that, Melissa. I'm much the same.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lizzy, I applaud you. I also think you are an oddity in today's world. I wish you were the norm. :) Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very true, Diana. In fact, rarely do I read a novel that doesn't have grammatical errors. That makes me feel better. :) Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Not at all, Deb. Prompts are only meant to kick start a writing project or to awaken the muse. If it does that then I'm happy. :) Thank you as always my Iowa friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Enough said for sure, Bill. Thanks for sharing that and I totally agree.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Marcy! I love the English language but I'm not sure I could have made it through that book. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bill, it's just not worth it to me. I can find millions of people to write about who aren't related to me. Why take the chance?

      Thanks my friend and Happy Tuesday to you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Suzanne, many agree with you for sure. It's always been my dream to be published the traditional way, and I don't like giving up on dreams. :) Thanks for your thoughts.

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      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 2 years ago from Philippines

      I love your mailbag installments, and always learn precious lessons from them. The point about the 10,000 mark for self publishers was most helpful, as I plan to self publish my children's books. I know Bill, I've been saying that for years.....

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great point, Mary. You had me smiling with that observation. Thank you!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

      It's mailbag Monday again, and I am so glad the mail arrived, although late. Everyone may be out enjoying the spring that has sprung.

      I am with you on the big words, although there are some great ones out there no doubt that do add much, but they have their proper place in the appropriate medium for sure.

      I have written about family, but in a supportive, loving manner or that which would be inspirational to others. However, there is a fine line, even if you want to use their character traits for a fiction character, some family are apt to read between the lines ... no good then, especially if making a bit of fun of them.

      Having said all of that, why have I not seen you over my side of HP Town reading my short story ...I hope the "R" word did not scare you away : )

      Woo hoo, another Monday down almost!

      Blessings and peace always

    • Sara Sarwar Riaz profile image

      Sara Sarwar Riaz 2 years ago from Michigan, USA

      Grateful to find your mailbag with the very useful input as always. And how very kind of yourself and Sallybea to mention my work in such an appreciative and encouraging way.

      I completely understand and relate with the concerns listed in the queries. I have always had a love affair with the english language, hence I ardently nurtured my vocabulary and command over it as a very young girl. I think every writer owes it to oneself to strive for the depth and expanse in their skill that is required to connect with the reader, and yet contribute to the corpus of writings in a meaningful way. Overcoming grammatical lapses and learning the use of words in accord with one's expression, are all milestones in a writer's journey.

      Thank you for the valuable words of advice.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Really great stuff this week. I learned a lot. This one made me pause and contemplate the balances we must strive to keep in our life and writing.

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      Melissa Reese Etheridge 2 years ago from Tennessee, United States

      Word choice is important, but sometimes we overdo it. I like to revise, but i usually stick with my original word choices.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 2 years ago from Oakley, CA

      P.S. I may be out of step, anyway, because ever since I was a kid, I was a voracious reader, as was my mother. My father read things like Popular Mechanics Magazines, rather than books, but we were readers; dad refused to have a TV.

      I learned a lot of polysyllabic words as a child; some I had to look up or have explained, others, I got by osmosis or context. The end result was that there are few words I cannot pronounce and I rarely have to look up "big words" in books; they don't bother me, or stop the flow of my reading.

    • Diana Lee profile image

      Diana L Pierce 2 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

      This is great advice, billybuc. I know my grammar sucks. Incomplete sentences do often sound better to me and I don't always know the best places to put a comma, but I have read books that its author has the same issues going on.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 2 years ago from Iowa

      I love the writing prompt at the end. One perfect sentence. Does it have to be complete? : )

      Have a great week.

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Enjoyed your first answer... I post a quote everyday on my William Leverne Smith author page on Facebook... this was yesterday's: “Never try to impress people with the profundity of your thoughts by the obscurity of your language. Whatever has been thoroughly thought through can be stated simply.” Enough said?!? ;-) I like that one... ;-)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I know you do, Ruby, and that just makes me want to please more. :) Thank you my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Heidi, once I stopped laughing I agreed with everything you wrote. LOL Thank you as always!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      They are indeed fun, Lizzy, and I love your examples. I hate the dumbing down of our country.....still, it's a fine line when writing a novel. I try to tiptoe it daily. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, it's not only up and up but quite normal. Beware that those fees are quite steep. Just a little warning for you.

      Thank you...this series would be boring without the questions you all ask.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dora thank you, and you do. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very true, Audrey. I am constantly going over dialogue I write to make sure it sounds like real people spoke it. It's not as easy as it sounds. :) Thank you!

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 2 years ago from Planet Earth

      Mary's comment about Mark Twain reminded me of an edition of Frankenstein I have that is used to study for the SAT - I bought it because it was cheap, and noticed it was pretty thick (for a book that isn't that long). Turns out it has a lot of vocabulary words & each chapter has a study summary. Some are fairly common, but some are examples of language we don't use that often now.

      A bit OT, but wanted to share that after seeing Mary's post!

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. Really enjoyed this weeks mailbag. Totally agree with you on writing about family members. Inevitably someone's feelings get hurt so I avoid at all cost. Great job, have a wonderful week.

    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 2 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      Some very useful questions and answers here, always a pleasure to read! Regarding ebooks, if traditional print is slowly dying it would make more sense maybe to do an ebook and spend some $ on marketing yourself.....I would have thought anyway. Voted useful!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 2 years ago from Florida

      I do not care to read anything that I have to run for the dictionary. I think some folks just try to impress others with their words. I never had to look up a word written by Mark Twain (not to mention many other great writers).

      Enjoyed this mailbag!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Great advice on any given subject. Thank you for your faithfulness to your followers. I appreciate all you do..

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      (See I got my Mailbag comment in on the publish date. Whew!)

      Okay, theme for today seems to be the vernacular (is that a $25 word?). I do not think that writing at the 6th grade level (I've heard that level bandied about) dumbs down the work. It just makes it more user friendly for a larger audience. As well, going for the conversational (which may or may not be grammatically correct) is definitely part of the storyteller's art.

      But, as always, it depends on the audience. I'm listening to a course on philosophy and I would say that the vocabulary is definitely "erudite." (How's that word?) Heck, I even have to look up some stuff. Definitely not for the general public, but appropriate for those with an academic bent.

      Good stuff as always. Voted up and sharing, of course!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 2 years ago from Oakley, CA

      With regard to using too many big words... LOL! I do not try to deliberately cause confusion and muddy the waters (obfuscate) the meaning, but I also refuse to cater to the dumbing-down of people who cannot read any higher than a 4th grade level. To my way of thinking, that simply plays into the hands of the politicians who continue to slice funding for education, and will only worsen (exacerbate) things in the long run.

      In fact, back when my kids were in school, I had occasion to write a rather nasty "poison pen" letter to the superintendent and vice-superintendent of schools, regarding their position on whether that particular school should stay open.

      I remained very polite in my phrasing, but hopefully sent them to the dictionary to figure out they'd actually been called all manner of nasty names! ;-)

      A similar letter was sent to the principal of the school, who had backed out on a promise to the parents' group. In that one, I pointed out his egregious miscarriage of policy, and stated that what he had done, "...in my lexicon, constitutes an untruth." (In other words, I called him a lousy liar.)

      Words, including big words, are a lot of fun!

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      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      Mondays with Bill, a total must for writers with taste. Aren't we great followers giving you such interesting questions. I liked the ebook question and, of course, your answer.

      I was looking on the Internet at agents and publishers and lo and behold a day later I got a call from a self-publishing agency. Of course they were interested in my novel, but I still haven't checked their rates. He said they offer editing services for an additional fee, but, their publishing service includes a team that will review my novel before publishing, a marketing service, etc., etc. Do you think this is on the up and up?

      I voted this week's mailbag up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

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      Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      I can think of some writers here on HP who should read your answer to Piper's question. Hope I put into practice all that I learn from you. Thanks!

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      Audrey Howitt 2 years ago from California

      Hello Bill! So interesting--especially the issue of grammar--I love short incomplete sentences. I think it has its place--we don't think in complete sentences, and I often wonder why we write in them--but then poets break all the rules

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Karen. I'll do my best. Have a great week.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you FatBoy Tin! It's a tough call for us writers. I'm a bit more careful these days than I once was. I'm not sure I'm happy about that, but it's the choice I've made and I'll live with it.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Melissa, I appreciate you taking the time from your busy work week to stop by..thank you!

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      Karen Hellier 2 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for these questions and answers Bill. As always, very helpful to the rest of us. Keep up the good work!

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      Colin Garrow 2 years ago from Kinneff, Scotland

      Another great one, Bill. I like your answer to the question of writing about people you know. I did that a few years ago in what I thought was a fairly obviously fictional story that happened to be about me and someone else, but unfortunately a few people thought it was based on fact and it created a lot of bad feeling. Having said that, I do include 'scenes from my life' in some of my work, but generally only as a starting point for something else.

      You could also argue that if you've got a pal who's a writer, you should expect stuff like this!

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      Melissa Propp 2 years ago from Minnesota

      Happy Monday Bill! Even though this is my busy season at work, I still always have to start off my Mondays with your column. I still have tons of questions, just not much time to ask...but I'll be back at in May, I'm sure!

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for your thoughts, Larry. A part of me, the free spirit part, agrees with you. I love the thought of freedom of press and freedom of expressing thoughts....and I think any writer who changes his writing to please everyone is a writer shackled.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Brian. I appreciate it. Happy Monday to you.

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      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      It is just my humble opinion, but as writers we must offend on occasion. If we don't, then what are we accomplishing? That's not to say we should go around ruining everyone's day for no good reason.

      Love the mailbag and look forward to future installments.

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      Brian Leekley 2 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      More good answers to good questions.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Linda. I learned a new word thanks to you. LOL I doubt I'll ever use it, but at least I won't have to look it up now.

      We did our weeding yesterday. Today I'll write until two and then sit on the deck and enjoy the sunshine. Have a great day, my friend.

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      Linda Lum 2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Yes, sesquipedalians are so annoying {{wink}}.

      Last week you discussed "finding your writing voice". Bill, you have certainly found yours; your writing flows because you write to all of us just as you would sit down and talk to us over a cup of coffee. Using big words to impress does nothing to move a story along.

      Grammatical errors can and should also be forgiven, especially when writing dialogue. Goodness knows, when talking with friends I've been known to dangle a participle or two.

      Thanks for another great mailbag. Now it's time to get out there and wrestle with the weeds before the temperatures hit the mid 70's!

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hi Sally! Interesting you mentioned Sara Sarwar Riaz. She has had me looking in the dictionary on occasion, but overall I agree with you...her use of the language is admirable and beautiful. Thanks for mentioning her.

      Have a superb week!

      bill

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I totally agree, Sha. I saw it used to great effect in a series of novels...one character spoke with no contractions and it was memorable, but it was only memorable because only one character spoke that way.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh, Ann, you just couldn't help yourself, could you? Thanks a lot, my friend. Green with envy am I. :)

      bill

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pop, I had to lay the law down. There were some hurt feelings at first but oh well. Writing is important to me, and it pays the bills, and people can either respect that or get off the bus. :) Thanks for stopping by on this sunny Monday.

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      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      Hi Billy

      Good Advice Billy, I try not to offend anyone least of all family members. My rule is not to write anything I can't live with afterwards.

      In response to the discussion about the use of 'big words' we could do no better than look at the writing of our very own Sara Sarwar Riaz on HubPages Her command and use of the English Language is something to be admired and marvelled at.

      Hope the rest of your week is a brilliant one.

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      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Another set of great questions this week, Bill. I agree with you and Brandi on the subject of big (or rarely used) words. I suppose they're fine in academic papers, but seem out of place in novels and stories. I have no problem looking up words I don't know or to confirm the context, but if I have to do that on every page, the book gets set down unread.

      I also agree with you with regard to fragmented sentences. Especially in dialogue, it's commonplace for people to abbreviate their spoken thoughts. To me when I read text that has no contractions or sounds like it belongs on an English exam, it loses flow and authenticity. It's actually quite distracting.

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      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Yep, three weeks in France as from tomorrow, then two weeks home, then one week in Portugal - lovely! Sorry, no intention of making you jealous - much!

      Ann :))

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      breakfastpop 2 years ago

      I will take a cue from you. When my phone rings in the morning, and it always does, I will check the caller ID and refrain from picking up the phone. Everyone who knows me gets that I write in the morning, but it never stops them from interrupting me. I have to remember that I am working! even if they can't.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, good morning. I always feel better when you agree with me about grammar, so thank you.

      Off on travels? Well have a wonderful time. Have some fun for me while you are at it, please. :)

      As for your question, stay tuned for next Monday, and thanks again.

      Happy Monday dear friend!

      Bill

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      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Another great mailbag, bill. I agree with you about the grammar issues. The story and the flow are all, so if grammar gets in the way, then tell it to take a running jump! However, only if it is appropriate, effective and has impact. There, that's that off my purest chest :)

      Question: Why is it that some people take kind, constructive criticism badly (even in a private email) and others welcome it? I'm happy to take suggestions and comments on errors, from other writers, as long as they're not rude. Isn't that one of the reasons we're here?

      Have a great day and a great week, bill! I might be quiet for a while as we're off on our travels tomorrow. Did I hear a sigh of relief in the background?!

      Ann :)