Grammar – Summary of the Parts of Speech

*image source: ted-ielts.com

Over the past several weeks, I’ve discussed the Parts of Speech on my Wednesday blogs. I think that writers need to understand the functions of all of these parts. To write well enough to entertain, engage, and tantalize our readers, we need to know how to use words effectively.

We talked about nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, and interjections. I also threw in a discussion about articles because I think it is essential to recognize the difference between ‘a’ and ‘an,’ ‘the’ and ‘that,’ etc.

One of the reasons I write about grammar is because it is crucial to your writing. Understanding words and their roles will help you develop your style and find your voice. Unlike some opinions about ‘my style,’ finding it involves using proper grammar and punctuation.

Next week and for the weeks after that, I’m going to talk about paragraphs, and after that, I’m going to concentrate on ways to create your style through mechanics and form.

Until next time,

~Mustang Patty~

Elements of the Short Story – The Inciting Moment

I’ve discussed how your story’s plot is built around a problem or challenge that your MC faces. When the issue makes its first appearance is known as the inciting moment. It acts as a beginning point where your MC’s world changes. This moment is interesting and important enough to create a response in you or your protagonist. It makes them act.

The MC is now aware of this difference, and they are uneasy. The problem is impossible to ignore. Your hero can feel it, taste it, see it, and smell it. This would be the starting point of any explanation your MC would give, and if they told an oral story, they would begin here.

In the fiction world, every problem has a solution. Finding the answer is a process and the things you have to go through to solve the crises. A goal is set up, and the journey is your MC’s story. It is the story of this journey that drives your story or novel. And while not ALL goals are solved, the journey is still essential.

The inciting moment concerns either a major or minor event – but the result is the same

nothing is ever the same again for your MC.

The change can be immediate, cause a significant conflict, action, change, or reaction.

To show the impact of this change, it is essential to discuss the MC’s world BEFORE the event that comes along and causes upheaval to their lives.

What is the purpose of the inciting moment in YOUR story?

From this moment, your MC has a story goal. BE SURE to get to the moment sooner rather than later. Your reader will become bored if you don’t.

Make the reader care about this character (or hate them), and they will want to know what happens next. 

All your backstory can be woven into the rest of your story with dialogue.

Once you’ve introduced the inciting moment, the storyline progresses. Your MC deals with the problem, and they CHANGE while they solve the upheaval in their lives. As the story moves along, everything changes. To accomplish this, add conflictsuspense, and action. 

At the end of your story, check: Did your MC solve the problem? Does he or she achieve his story goal? That is up to you.

Until next time,

~Mustang Patty~

Book Review: 2020 Indie Authors’ Short Story Anthology

Love this Review of the 2020 Indie Authors’ Short Story Anthology

SheySaints

Summary

2020 Indie Authors’ Short Story Anthology is a collection of short stories from US, Australian, South African, and UK writers. There are over twenty short stories of different themes that the authors wrote to keep themselves sane during these trying times. These authors are Mustang Patty, Andrew Paul Grell, Charles R. Bucklin, Ellen Eigner, C Alexis, Becky Crookham, Paul J P Slater, Tammy Godfrey, Maria Delaney, Maruschka Scott, Susannah MacDonald, J.V. Montgomery, Natalie Jessen Freese, Jane Bradshaw, Christy Kunin, Angelique Pacheco, Dan B. Fierce, and K.L. Laettner.

Review

What an amazing book this is! I love that there are different genres and different styles of writing! It’s really nice to read these stories during this crazy pandemic era when we’re all just trying to do our best to keep our sanity. This is how these very talented authors coped with this year’s struggle, and it is always something to…

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Your Manuscript and the Editing Process – Part Three

In my discussions over the past two weeks, I explained the importance of Editing. I stressed how you need to write the FIRST DRAFT before you worry about Editing.

The FIRST DRAFT is when you empty every thought you have about your storyline. DO NOT self-edit as you go – it doesn’t matter how ugly the document looks. Some people feel more comfortable writing out the FIRST DRAFT by hand, while others feel more confident if they use their computer. (I find that if I write the FIRST DRAFT by hand, the first round of Editing will occur when I’m transcribing the work from handwritten notes to a Word.doc.

So, now once you’ve emptied your brain and you feel like you’ve expressed all of your thoughts about the story in writing, you’re ready to begin the EDITING PROCESS.

The PROCESS is something you will develop over time, but it is always best to look at what the experts say when starting out. After reading numerous articles from famous – some very famous, and some not-so-famous, authors, I realize that everyone has their personal methods. The editing process becomes a checklist for each author to root out the errors they know are there. I’ve boiled down the different steps I saw across the board and came up with some common steps. They are:

The best place to begin is CONTINUITY. If you have basically done an idea dump onto paper, the MS needs to be put into a logical order. Your story needs to have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Along the way, you introduce the Characters, the problems they face, and the Setting.

I think the best place to start when it comes to Characters, is with your PROTAGONIST or MC. This character will have the main problem that needs to be solved. Your PLOT revolves around the actions of the Protagonist. (Without the full development of the PLOT – your story will fizzle out.)

Next, it is time to determine a general idea of how your character will change during the story. How will dealing with the problems and obstacles make a difference in their lives? (IF your MC does NOT change over the course of the story – the PLOT and OBSTACLES aren’t clearly defined.)

And then, you determine the SETTING for your story. Depending on whether you are writing a short story or a novel, your plot should involve just one or a handful of scenery changes. Write the descriptions in a separate document and sprinkle the details throughout your prose.

Next week’s Blog entry for Friday will continue the discussion on Editing.

Until then,

~Mustang Patty~

The Interjection and Your Writing

According to my favorite source for Grammatical information:

An interjection is a word that expresses emotion and has no grammatical relation to other words in the sentence.

Therefore, this will be a very short blog. Knowing that the interjection has absolutely no connection to anything – it is merely an EXPRESSION of EMOTION, and quite often followed by an exclamation point.

Damn! Well, that makes it easy, doesn’t it?

A nice easy blog entry to start off our week. I hope you are ready for Halloween if you live in the U.S., and if you don’t, well I hope you’re ready for All Saints Eve.

Enjoy this last week of October!

(For those of you doing NaNoWriMo, ENJOY the last bit of breathing room before the marathon begins!)

Until Next time,

~Mustang Patty~

Halloween Giveaway!!

If you are looking for a great reference for Grammar – SIGN UP for this giveaway. Yes, this is a real paperback that will be sent to you in the mail. And, it’s a great book!! For those of you who are working on a NaNoWriMo project, this will be helpful when you’re ready to do the second draft!!

To ENTER:

  • Send me an email with your name and address.
  • Tell me why you would like to win this book.
  • Describe your latest writing project, and tell me how long you’ve been writing.

GOOD LUCK!!

~Mustang Patty~

Elements of the Short Story: What exactly IS a Short Story?

Short stories are a unique artform. They are not novels that are compressed into fewer pages. They do not require less skill to write than a novel – in fact, they are actually more complex. And lastly, writing the short story allows a writer to hone their skills in ways that a novel never will.

So now that I’ve told  you several things that a short story is NOT, let’s talk about what they are.

If we talk about the very basics:

A short story is where something happened to somebody.

The short story only has one main character – and this is their story. This character is usually known as the Protagonist.

The thing that happens to the Protagonist is the Plot of your story.

Trying to attain some sort of goal or complete a mission is your Protagonist’s motivation and the driving force of your storyline.

To thicken the plot, and make things more interesting, there is something standing in the way of your Protagonist. This thing can be a person, thing, thought, or idea that keeps the Protagonist from attaining their goal or completing their mission.

If it a person standing in the way of your Protagonist, this is usually your Antagonist. The main purpose for an Antagonist in any short story is to give the Protagonist nothing but grief.

A short story has a limited wordcount.

BEFORE I say anything about the WORD COUNT of a SHORT STORY – I want to first tell you that IF you are writing a short story for a specific publication or contest – MAKE SURE YOU CHECK THE GUIDELINES!!

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming:

Depending on the particular article you are reading on the internet, a short story can be defined as anything between 500 words ALL THE WAY UP TO: 17,000 words. (Within my guidelines, this would be more of a Novella, but obviously the editors were willing to look at lengthier stories.)

I’ve come to accept the following guidelines for myself.

 A story with a word count between 500 to 1,000 words is FLASH FICTION.

      When I made a study of the short stories by famous authors, I came up with an average. I chose to look at the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Ray Bradbury, Ernest Hemingway, and last, but certainly not least, Stephen King.

      Stephen King once answered the question of how long a story should be with ‘as long as it takes to tell the tale.’ When you read his stories, it is obvious he takes his own advice. In his several different collections, my favorite being ‘Different Seasons,’ his  stories included a wide range in wordcount; anywhere from approximately 5,000 to 11,000.

While King is arguably the most prolific short story writer of our time, his work differs a bit from the Masters of the Short Story.

      I personally consider those folks to be:

                Edgar Allan Poe

                Ray Bradbury

                Ernest Hemingway

Poe is known for saying that the proper length of a short story had to be something readable in a single sitting. This is a wonderful way to describe a short story, but we all know that different people read at different speeds. Therefore, I will stick with using word count as a yard stick.

          When you look at Poe’s works, you find that with the exception of “The Fall of the House of Usher,” Poe tended to keep his short stories short. In fact, he must think people read very slowly, or they don’t sit for very long, three of his short stories are in the mid-2,000 word count.

          Reading Ray Bradbury’s short stories gave me an insight into his beliefs. As a legend in the short story world, he has a great deal of diversity in the lengths of his stories. They range at the upper lengths of mid-6,000s, but he also writes stories at the lower end of the 1,000s, as well as, in the mid-range at 4,000 words.

          Hemingway seems to be obsessed with variety. His stories are either very long or very short. One has to wonder if this was something he did on purpose – OR  — were the ideas he came up with either lengthy or short. This great master is a good example of how you don’t have to stick to just one length of story.

          I think Bradbury, King, and Hemingway teach us that you can create amazing stories using both few and more words. It all depends on how YOU tell the tale.

          However, here’s a number:

5,000 words

According to my evaluation, that’s the number to aim for. So, if you don’t know how long to make your short story, shoot for around 5,000 words.

What lessons did I learn while researching this topic?

After spending a lot of time researching the length of different stories, I came up with an average after looking at a total of fifty short stories. This bit of research did teach me a few things: There isn’t a ‘perfect length of a short story.’ It is up to the writer to define whether the IDEA they have can be carried for more or less words.

But here are a few things to think about:

Unless you want to enter competitions for flash fiction (which there are very few, you should probably write longer short stories.

It’s much harder to write very short stories that are good. So, start out by giving yourself 4 to 5,000 words of space.

Remember, the key to writing a great short story isn’t measured by the amount of words, but by how long it lasts in the memory of your readers.

Until next time,

~Mustang Patty~

(I’m chuckling because this was a BLOG about the Short Story, and it is one of the longest ones I’ve written.)

Your Manuscript and the Editing Process – Part Two

Last week, I started this series on the editing process. But let’s stop for a moment and look at WHAT you will be editing. I mean, if you haven’t written anything, you aren’t ready to EDIT.

You will be starting with the all-important FIRST DRAFT.

The first draft of anything you write is just the beginning. It’s all about getting your thoughts on paper. You want to completely empty your mind about your story idea. Describe in great detail your MC, and the supporting characters, too.

The MOST IMPORTANT part about the first draft is to simply get the story down on paper. 

Tess Gerritsen says: “I don’t stop to revise during the first draft. Because it’s all going to be changed anyway when I finally figure out what the book is about.”

Once you’ve written the whole story down, you can look at it objectively. You will find out if you even have a story.

It’s also important to remember that nobody writes a perfect first draft. There will be many rewrites and edits after you’ve completed this first step. Most writers write at least three drafts and sometimes as many as 10 or more.

The Editing process is essential, but more importantly, you have to WRITE. Some of you will edit yourselves as you write – but I don’t recommend that. Just write – let yourself get it all out without censorship. You can take out or add parts when you begin to work on your manuscript.

Remember: Writing is a journey through your mind. When you’re writing fiction, you are telling YOUR VIEW on reality. Editing is bringing it into terms that your readers can understand.

Until next time,

~Mustang Patty~

Another Part of Speech – The Preposition

At their basic level, prepositions are defined as ‘connecting words.’ They connect nouns and pronouns with other words. Taken a step further, prepositions give information about time, places, and direction.

It is that last bit that makes prepositions so fascinating. On one hand, the discussion about prepositions could be very simple:

It is that last bit that makes prepositions so fascinating. On one hand, the discussion about prepositions could be very simple:

“Prepositions are connecting words, and without them, writing would have no time, place or direction.”

But that one word – time – creates an entirely new level for the preposition. Suddenly, there are phrases like ‘simple’ and ‘perfect’ tenses in the past, present and future. The simple tense merely conveys action in the time narrated.

I would love to be able to discuss these phrases on some intellectual level, but frankly, my understanding of them is limited. (So, we will learn together.)

But for now, the basics of the preposition are as follows:

They describe:

      The position of something: The pen fell between the cushions.

      The time when something happens: My alarm goes off at six a.m.

      The way in which something is done: I type by touch.

A few examples of preposition words are above, after, among, around, along, at, before, behind, beneath, beside, between, by, down, from, in, into, like, of, off, on, out, over, through, to, up, upon, under, with. (But this is only a sample.)

As connecting words, prepositions link nouns and pronouns to other words, called objects, in a sentence. They show space or time between the noun and the object.

For example:

My wheelchair is in the trunk.

 (In this sentence, wheelchair is the noun, in is the preposition, and trunk is the object.)

In the next grammar blog, we will explore more about the preposition as we discuss ‘prepositional phrases,’ and how they affect word usage.

Until next time,

~Mustang Patty~

Elements of the Short Story – The Outline

I wanted to share this graphic for creating an Outline for the Short Story. I hope you will find it as useful as I do.

One surprising thing is that most people think that writing the short story doesn’t require as much planning as writing a novel, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Why?

Because to tell the story entirely and correctly, within the word count, every single word has to count. Every scene needs to fit the framework, along with the arc of your MC. The story needs to reach a peak and come to a satisfying conclusion at the end.

Now, it IS true that writing a short story is a wonderful way to learn the craft of writing and to identify your strengths and weaknesses as a writer. Because you are working on a smaller word count, there isn’t as much pressure as writing a novel.

Additionally, writing the short story and submitting them to the myriad of short story competitions will help you find ways to meet deadlines. One of the best things to drive a writer to write is a deadline. And besides, these short-term goals can be great motivators.

There are fewer rules in writing the short stories, and you can even take the MC of your novel and write about their backstory. Or you can follow the fate of one of your supporting characters after they’ve left the book.

Though most people do not take the same amount of time to research and work on the plot of their short stories, the reality is that to make your story as sharp as you can, you need to do your diligence.

One of the best things you can do is write an outline. The outline will help you identify the key points you need to put into the story, and if you have created this road map, it will be easier to navigate the rocky road while you’re going over seventy miles an hour.

Until next time,

~Mustang Patty~

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