The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Twenty
Welcome Back to the Show That Never Ends
A bit grandiose, for sure, but as long as you keep asking the questions, then this series will continue.
I’m having fun with this. I don’t know what I expected when I started this series, but the response has been beyond whatever my expectations were. So keep those questions coming and I’ll do my best to at least give you my honest opinion.
You can add your questions to the comment section below, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Either way will work for me.
So let’s get started with an interesting question from Bradmaster.
From Bradmaster: “My question is off topic for this hub, and it may have been previously asked and answered.
I like to use Punctuation, and Capitalization for effect in my writing.
This means, I over Punctuate, and Capitalize against the standard rules of Grammar.
My thought on writing is Communication and Conveying Ideas, and Viewpoints.
What is your expert opinion on my unorthodox writing style?”
This is a first, and it’s an exceptional question. In fact, it’s something I asked myself while writing my last novel, and it was a discussion my editor and I had.
I do believe that the rules of grammar and punctuation can be suspended for effect, and I think it can have a great impact when done….over a short period of time. That’s just my opinion, remember, and I’m sure there will be those who disagree with me.
The problem with butchering grammar for too long is that it confuses most readers, and threatens to be tedious.
When I was writing my last novel, Resurrecting Tobias, I used incorrect grammar for the coffee shop readings my character gave, but the rest of the novel had correct grammar. I think it was effective to do it that way, but I was still concerned that my readers would have a hard time wading through the run-on sentences.
So, to summarize, a little bit of wrong can be right. A whole lot of wrong can be wrong.
How’s that for confusing?
Join me on my writing blog
- William Holland | Helping Writers to Spread Their Wings and Fly
Tips and discussions about writing
Go Forth and Blossom
What I’m about to share with you isn’t a question, but it does relate to questions I’ve had in the past. This is a success story, and it happened because this writer went out into her community and marketed her talents.
From OldRoses: A year ago, I would have said that you were crazy to say freelancers should go around town and ask for work because last year I was a struggling garden writer with a so-so website. This past January, I received an email from my Master Gardener group looking for speakers for workshops. I volunteered to speak on my specialty (herbs) and was so successful that I changed my career to Garden Writer and Speaker. Now I ask people for paying speaking gigs and get them. When I speak, I do a handout with information relative to my talk and my contact info and website address (my website is improved and monetized) and on my website, I provide a contact link so readers can schedule me for a talk for their garden club or other group. Traffic is up on my website but, as you point out , the most crucial part of my success has been talking to people and ASKING for jobs. Excellent hub. I'm voting it up and sharing it.”
Isn’t that fantastic? Imagine what is waiting for you out there, if you are just willing to step forth and sell your skills.
I understand! I am not a social creature by nature. I prefer hanging with close friends and family, and I avoid trips into the real world. Even though I have owned businesses and worked retail for years, I do not enjoy interacting with customers in a business environment. I’d rather sit down over coffee and talk about life. I do not want to sit down and talk about my writing abilities and try to sell them.
But there are times when what Bill wants does not match what Bill needs to do.
If the business is out there, and it is not pounding on my door, then I need to go out and mingle with the customers.
Pretty simple truth, ‘eh?
Again, from Bradmaster: What is the extent and scope of the topic sentence today?
For those of you unfamiliar with topic sentences, I’m going to borrow a definition from our friends at Wikipedia, since their definition is as good as any:
The topic sentence is a prescriptive grammatical term to describe the sentence in an expository paragraph which summarizes the main idea of that paragraph. It is usually the first sentence in a paragraph.
As an old teacher, and a product of the Catholic school system, where good grammar ran a close second to God in importance, I am quite familiar with topic sentences. The interesting part of Bradmaster’s question is the last word….today.
I assume that, in academic circles, topic sentences are still taught and encouraged, but we don’t see them very often in creative writing…if at all. In reflective writing, in essays, and in commentary pieces, there is another option to the topic sentence, and that is the bridge sentence. In other words, if you end a paragraph with a lead-in sentence that transitions the reader to the next paragraph, then the topic sentence is not really necessary.
When writing a piece that contains several related but different points, either a topic sentence or a bridge sentence are necessary. Without one or the other, the writer faces the very real possibility of confusing and losing the reader.
Free Blogging Sites
From Rhonda: Now, for a new question that most probably know the answer to. Since blogging seems to be the way to go, do you have a free blogging site you recommend? Word Press seems rather complicated from what I have heard. I checked out Weebly and love the look but found you can only have five clickable pages within the free site. I don't think that would work. I'm looking for a free site that I could load about 200 how to upcycle articles. Got any recommendations?
Well, Rhonda, I can only speak from experience on this one, and my experience is limited. When I first started blogging I used Blogger, and I found it easy to navigate. I have since moved to WordPress, and that, too, is easy for me. Keep in mind, if it is easy for me then it will be super-easy for you, because I know next to nothing about downloading stuff on a site.
I did a quick search and I see there are tons to choose from, but those two are the only ones I have used. You mentioned being able to download two-hundred articles, and I have done that on my Wordpress sites and had no problems.
I have no doubt that those who read this question will mention other sites in their comments below.
From Agusfanani: Do we consider it uniqueness after we know it gets positive responses from readers ?
This question is in response to an article I did last week about finding our uniqueness, and I think Agusfanani speaks for many writers. How do you know when your writing or your writing voice is unique?
It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? I don’t think we can be the judges of our own work. Way too subjective and skewed, if you ask me, so I would agree with Agusfanani. When others tell us that we are unique then I guess we have arrived…..but….I think recognizing a unique niche is something we can do when judging our own work. If I were to write a series of books about a ten-year old genius who solves crimes, that would definitely be considered unique by practically everyone who is a reader.
It Looks like I’ll Be Back Next Week Thanks to All of You
Twenty installments in the bank, and that’s about nineteen more than I was expecting to do in this series. I am blown away by the response to this series, and I am thankful. As long as you have questions then I’ll have answers, and that means I’ll see you next Monday, same time, same station. Until then, have a great week of writing.
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”