Parts of Speech: The Adverb

My favorite author, Stephen King, discusses the use of adverbs in his book, ‘On Writing.’ He says, and I quote, ‘Adverbs are not your friends.’

He goes on to say that the use of adverbs is for lazy writers. Too many adverbs will weaken your sentences and have you falling into passive voice. (We will address passive versus active voice in another blog.)

But there are places in your writing for using adverbs, so we will study how and when to use them.

By Definition:

Adverbs are descriptive words used to qualify (mostly) verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.

Example:

The frazzled mother screamed loudly (how did she scream?) at her children while they played in the street. (Please note that this adverb isn’t really needed – aren’t most screams loud? So, it causes redundancy.)

Most adverbs usually end in ‘–ly.’ They tell you how something happened.  Then there are the other adverbs describing adjectives or other adverbs, or adding information about the place, time, degree, and frequency.

Examples:

  1. I don’t want to go there (place). It’s not any fun without my hubby.
  2. After all, I called her yesterday (time).
  3. He looks extremely (degree) handsome in it, which is seldom (frequency) the case with most casual clothing.
  4. I always (frequency) carry my calendar with me.

Nine Types Of Adverbs

TimeWhen something happened
PlaceWhere something happened
MannerHow something happened
DegreeExtent to which something occurs
FrequencyHow often something occurs
ProbabilityThe chance something will occur
DurationHow long something lasts
EmphasisAccentuates an action
InterrogativeAsks questions

Writing Tip: Great writing relies on verbs and nouns, not adverbs, for strength and color. Too many adverbs create clumsy writing and detract from the impact of a good verb.

This covers the basics of adverbs. If you wish to learn more about them, you COULD sign up for one of my courses in writing – see my Class page on my website: https://wordpress.com/page/mustangpatty1029.wordpress.com/1131

Until next time,

~Mustang Patty~

Parts of Speech: The Verb

All About Verbs

I think that most of us are more than aware that ‘Verbs are ‘doing’ words.’ They show action, a state of being, or express time. We have present, past, and future tense.

For most of us, we covered the basics in our grammar classes.

  • He eats. (Present tense)
  • He ate. (Past tense)
  • He will eat. (Future tense)

Tip: The trend is to use the simple tense in writing. It’s clean, clear, and uncomplicated. It’s also user-friendly.

But then, we had to learn the more intricate verbs

Such as:

Finite Verbs:

  1. Stand on their own.
  2. Have a subject.
  3. Have a number.
  4. Have a tense.

A finite verb makes a complete sentence with a subject. It can be in past, present, or future tense.

Examples:

She works.

In this sentence:  The Subject = She,  and the number = One person, and the Tense = Present

They negotiated.

Subject = They
Number = Many people
Tense = Past 

Infinite Verbs: 

  1. Do not show tense, person or number.
  2. Have a ‘to’ that comes before the verb.
  3. Must have a finite verb before the ‘to’.

It is preferred that you do not split the infinitive. Don’t say: ‘She wants to definitely work.’ You will split the infinitive.

Example:

She tiptoed so as not to wake anyone.

‘To wake’ does not show tense, person, or number.
‘to’ comes before the verb, wake
Tiptoed is a finite verb that comes before the word ‘to’

Strong Verbs

Try to use strong, precise verbs. This helps you to say what you mean, reduce adverbs, and avoid the passive voice versus active voice.

Examples: 

stride, grab, analyse, resolve, tiptoe, instruct, wobble, revise, scan

Avoid Nominalisation Of Verbs

This is also known as ‘nouning’. A nominalisation occurs when a verb (or other part of speech) is used as (or transformed into) a noun. 

Example:

argue becomes argument

‘A nominalisation is a type of abstract noun. An abstract noun denotes an idea, quality, emotion, or state. It is something that is not concrete. It takes the power away from the original verb.

Phrasal Verbs

‘Phrasal verbs’ are a combination of words with a meaning beyond the individual words. They are verbs that are followed by a preposition or an adverb.  

Examples: give up, put off, pass out

Phrasal verbs are mainly used in spoken English and informal texts. We should avoid using them in formal and academic writing, where it is better to use a verb like ‘postpone’ than a phrasal verb like ‘put off’.

There is a lot more we can learn about verbs. In my Creative Writing Classes, I will be discussing verbs, adverbs, and adjectives at length.

Until next week,

~Mustang Patty~

Parts of Speech: The Adjective

First, let’s cover an adjective the way most of us learned it in school.

All About Adjectives

An adjective is a word that describes a noun. There are two kinds of adjectives: attributive and predicative.

Attributive

The attributive stands next to a noun and describes it.  The usual place of the adjective is in front of the noun.

Example: The black cat climbed a tree.
Sometimes, for dramatic effect, the adjective can come after the noun.
Example: This is the jungle dark.

Predicative

The predicative is when a verb separates it from the noun or pronoun it describes.

Examples:

  1. The crowd was happy.
  2. The driver was furious.
  3. This bread tastes stale.

Types Of Adjectives

  1. qualitative: good, French
  2. possessive: my, your, their
  3. relative and interrogative: which, what, whatever
  4. numeral: one, two, second
  5. indefinite: some, any, much
  6. demonstrative: this, that, the

Top Tip: Do not use too many adjectives in your writing. Choose nouns that do most of the work for you.

Until next time,

~Mustang Patty~

Parts of Speech: the Pronoun

Here is the definition we were given back in the 5th Grade:

Pronouns are substitutes for nouns, taking the place of nouns that precede or follow them.
Examples: I, hers, myself, who.

Now, that we are using these words in our writing, we need to have a deeper understanding.

There are four types of pronouns:

Personal pronouns indicate a person or group.

Examples: he, she, they

Possessive pronouns indicate ownership.

Examples: his, hers, theirs

Relative pronouns introduces dependent clauses in sentences.

Examples: who, whoever, that, which, when, where, whose

Reflexive pronouns refer back to the subject of the sentence.

Examples: himself, herself, myself

I hope this review of grammar is helping you understand the proper way to use pronouns.

Until next time,

~Mustang Patty~

Parts of Speech: The Noun

All About Nouns

Most of us can remember the basic definition we learned in early Grammar classes.

A noun is a naming word. It identifies people, places, or things.

However, we may not always remember that there are four types of nouns:

1.   Common Nouns

Common nouns are names given to ordinary objects.
They can be identified by ‘a’, ‘an’ or ‘the’.
Examples: the shoe, a kitchen, an apple.

2.   Proper Nouns

Proper nouns are names given to people, places, days, months, ideologies, subjects or titles.
They always begin with capital letters.
Examples: July, China, Friday.

3. Abstract or Concrete Nouns

Abstract nouns name a quality, a characteristic, or an idea.

Examples: beauty, strength, love, courage.

Conversely, concrete nouns name an object that can be perceived by the senses.

Examples: hat, desk, book, box.

4. Collective Nouns:

Collective nouns name a group: crowd, team, class.

I hope this little walk down memory lane helps you understand the structure of your sentences.

Until next time,

~Mustang Patty~

Grammar and Your Writing

During the three years I’ve been blogging, I’ve written several items on Grammar, but I’d like to start from scratch with this new series.

I’d like to go out on a limb and venture to say that many of us begin writing stories when we’re young. We move through school learning the basics of language arts, and we’re familiar with the parts of speech, basic grammar, and punctuation.

But when you’re writing to be understood, whether it be fiction or non-fiction, words, and proper use of them take on a new meaning. And then there’s technique. I will be covering techniques and structure in my Wednesday blogs, but for now, let’s concentrate on the basics of the English language.

What Are Parts Of Speech?

It could be said that they are the building blocks of language. A part of speech can also be referred to as a word class. As a writer who wants to be understood, it is essential to understand the function of the different word classes.

These categories of words each have a separate function in a sentence. According to Wikipedia, ‘In traditional grammar, a part of speech (PoS or POS) is a category of words (or, more generally, of lexical items) that have similar grammatical properties. Words that are assigned to the same part of speech generally display similar syntactic behavior—they play similar roles within the grammatical structure of sentences—and sometimes similar morphology in that they undergo inflection for similar properties.’

There are eight parts of speech in English: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and articles. Each shows the function of the word as well as how it is used grammatically in the sentence.

While this may be a review for many, some of you haven’t visited these terms since you were in school. (Those of you with MFA’s can ignore my prattling.)

On Friday, we will begin exploring each part of speech and its role in the sentence.

Join me to discuss what a noun is

Until next time,

~Mustang Patty~

ANNOUNCEMENT – Classes Starting on September 20th!

Hurry – class size is limited to SIX!

As I continue my journey to help writers and artists prepare work for inclusion in either the ‘2021 Indie Authors’ Mystery Anthology,’ OR the ‘2022 Indie Authors’ Short Story Anthology,’ I’ve learned more about short stories than I thought I would. While I developed my checklist for drafting a short story, it seems there are more ways than I ever dreamed of.

First, though it would seem a short story is simply a novel in miniature, it truly isn’t. A short story has unique elements.

Your characters and plot are essential to moving the story along. However, in a short story, you will usually find only ONE Main Character and fewer Secondary Characters. And while you will want your MC to be three-dimensional, your SC’s are generally only two-dimensional at best.

Now, I used to take a basic approach to draft the short story. I got an idea, and I just started to write. However, through my reading over the past two years and my concentrated study during the last two months, I have learned that approach isn’t the best.

The ideas for short stories need to be complex and thematic, almost more so than in a novel. So, rather than just start writing, it is crucial to allow the idea to simmer and build in your mind.

A great short story hinges on the strength of your plot and your characters. So, it is more important than ever to develop both before you begin your story.

Beginning on September 20, 2021, Mustang Patty Talks Writing and Heathory Press will be offering a class for Creative Writing and the Short Story. The course will run for six weeks, with plenty of worksheets and practice, and submission of your first draft, and then your final draft.

The price for the course is $50 – and the class will be limited to six students. This way, there will be a great deal of one-on-one instruction, a thirty-minute, weekly video conference between Mustang Patty and each student for questions and answers.

Both submissions will be returned with editorial comments and story concept advice, along with editorial notes along the way.

This Introductory Course will be taught a total of three times (if there is enough interest.) The next class will begin after the first of the year.

Hope to see you apply for a spot in either this class or the next,

~Mustang Patty~

One Way to Create the Characters for your Story

Developing characters for any piece of fiction is both challenging and fun. Where else do you get to build a person from the ground up? As a writer, you can create these characters to be likable or not. They can be handsome/beautiful, rich/poor – whatever WORKS for your story.

Some of us are lucky enough to wake up one morning and have the character arrive fully formed and ready for action. But more often than not, a character shows up, and they’re kind of shadowy. It takes you to build on that idea and create a three-dimensional character to tell your story.

There are three main characters in every story – the PROTAGONIST, the ANTAGONIST, and the side-kick or love interest. These characters tell the story. The Protagonist carries the problem/conflict, and it is their journey to work through the problem that is the backbone of your storyline.

So, here are a few ideas to help you visualize and build your Protagonist.

Past, Present & Future

Jot down a few ideas about the following:

  1. Childhood – how did they grow up? Were they rich or poor? Do they have a big family, or is the character an orphan?
  2. Physical appearance – write down their hair and eye color; describe their clothes; their weight, and height.
  3. Mental state – is your character in a positive frame of mind, or are they facing challenges? Are they confident or shy? Are they brave or careful?
  4. What is their goal or function in the story.

OR

A pretty fun way…

Create an online profile for your character. It can be for Facebook, Goodreads, or even Tinder. What kind of information would they share? What would they make public, and what would they keep private? Would they lie or tell the truth?

OR

Childhood Memories

Events from their childhood will have a significant impact on who they are. Take a moment to write one or both of these scenes.

  1. Write a traumatic event from their childhood.
  2. Write a happy event from their childhood. 

OR

Image Search – Pinterest or other images website

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Find an image of a person who reminds you of this character. They don’t have to be a look-alike. It could be a person with a similar attitude. Stick the picture above your desk and use it to think about the character as you write.

OR

Dialogue 

What does your new character have to say for themselves? Make them talk as quickly as possible. We reveal a lot about ourselves when we speak. Describe their body language and thoughts while they talk.

The Last Word

These are only suggestions to get your going. Once you’ve spent enough time with your character and you begin to figure out who they are, you may want to take the time to write an outline of their biography OR use one of the many Character Questionnaires you can find online to learn more.

Remember, when the words are flowing, and the story is growing, don’t stop. Establish who the character is as quickly as possible. Write it fast. Fix it later.

Until next week,

~Mustang Patty~

Some Tips on Writing a Mystery/Crime story

As the deadline for submissions to the 2021 Indie Authors’ Mystery/Crime Anthology draws near, here are a few tips for those who are struggling with the concept and deadline.

Your story could fall into one of the following categories:

1.    Mystery fiction includes police procedurals, private detective, and cozy mysteries. A crime has already been committed (usually a murder), and the story is about finding out who did it.

2.    Horror fiction includes gothic, paranormal, and non-supernatural stories. A crime is being committed (usually a murder), and the reader is forced to watch it as it happens.

3.    Thriller fiction includes psychological, action, crime, political, espionage, legal, and science fiction stories. A crime is about to be committed (usually a murder), and the protagonist has to try and stop it from happening. The reader becomes invested in this.

OR

As I stated previously, stories in any genre can be turned into a mystery by following a few of the following tips:

How Do I Write A Mystery?

Mystery writing is quite popular in today’s fiction. According to statistics, forty percent of best sellers involve some sort of suspense.

Writing a mystery is especially enjoyable for the writer if they enjoy puzzles and developing a formula for solving a crime.

You will need to create a sleuth, Private Investigator, Curious teenager…this could be a professional, such as a police officer/detective or somebody who happens to like uncovering mysteries. 

There are many famous fictional detectives. The great part about writing a mystery is that it follows a typical plot.  Reading mysteries from other stories and novels will reveal several different mystery forms used by experienced and well-respected writers.

For instance: Michael Connelly and Ian Rankin write mysteries. Their detectives, Harry Bosch and John Rebus, solve the crimes.

You need to carefully consider the following when using the crime genre to tell your story:

1.    Does your idea fit into a general crime writing genre? Or a sub-genre? 

2.    Have you chosen an appropriate setting? Use the environment that will add the most suspense. 

3.    Do you have a beginning that will engage readers? And beyond the beginning, is the pacing of your story sufficient to create an air of suspense?

4.    Do you have an intriguing crime? The crime does not have to be grisly or off-putting. It should ask a question that the reader wants the author to reveal. 

5.    Have you chosen the right victims? Your victims do not have to be likable, but we should feel empathy for them. The best way to do this is to show the suffering of their loved ones. The victims also have to give their detectives clues to the antagonist’s identity, making sure the victim fits the crime.

6.    Is your protagonist likable? If not, is the charming, clever, or empathetic enough? You can also get away with writing about an amoral protagonist or an anti-hero if you do it properly. 

7.    Have you included the usual suspects? You need the four main characters (to be discussed in Friday’s Blog 8/13) in crime writing more than in any other genre. These four characters are the devices you need to tell the story. The most essential character to develop is the antagonist because they often define your protagonist’s story goal.

8.    Is your antagonist believable? Does your antagonist have the motive, the means, and the opportunity?

9.    Have you included enough clues to keep the reader interested? You must consistently tease the reader with new information—giving them just enough to make them want more, but not so much that you overplay your hand.’

10.Have you added red herrings? Use these to mislead the characters for a while, but don’t add too many. They can become annoying and tiresome.

11. Have you included enough danger? Alfred Hitchcock said, ‘Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.’ Readers want your protagonists to struggle before they solve the crimes.

12. Do you have enough cliffhangers in your book? I don’t mean significant cliffhangers. I’m talking about those endings dotted throughout the story that make your readers want to turn the page.

13. Do you have a believable ending? Does your ending answer the question asked in Number #4 above? If the story doesn’t answer the questions, the storyline is incomplete.

So, join me for the next blog – where we will discuss the main four character types needed to tell your story,

~Mustang Patty~

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