Right the Write Way

LiterisOne of the many mistakes writers make is wrong word usage. Spell check misses it, because there is nothing wrong with the spelling. Sometimes it gets by the writer, because our minds have a tendency to trick us into thinking it’s the correct word.

Since I started writing, I’ve taught myself the do’s and don’ts of writing by reading and adhering to other authors’ advice. Reading traditional and self-published books helps me understand what works and doesn’t work. Thirteen years after writing my first unpublished novel, and reading numerous books, I’m beginning to realize that some of the do’s, don’ts, and advice have lost or are losing the argument.

Show vs. Tell

At some point, most writers have heard the words show, don’t tell. In the beginning, I told my stories and added dialogue to give the reader a sense of the characters. Now granted, endless arguments have popped up regarding show vs. tell, but what I enjoy reading is a book that has balance. I’ve learned how to balance between show vs. tell. I haven’t mastered it yet, but it’s much better from my early works. The other side of this argument is, since the beginning of time people told stories, so there’s nothing wrong with telling a story. I wonder though, has society become impatient with description? Show normally exceeds 140 characters. 😀

As a reader, I get upset when I read a book I spent money on, and it turns out to be mostly tell. Maybe writing has heightened my expectations as a reader. Nonetheless, show and tell are what I want in a book. Many of the recent books I’ve read lack show. At the beginning of the novel, Slammed by Colleen Hoover, it starts off mixing show and tell, but as the story progresses, I felt the author just told me what was going on. I lost interest in the characters. Without show, I believe you lose the dimension of the characters and visual setting.

Ending Sentences with a Preposition

Hawthorne, IrvingDon’t end a sentence with a preposition. Who hasn’t heard that from a teacher or some adult? After years of hearing this rule, it is said to be a grammar myth. It’s wrong to end a sentence with a preposition when you can leave the preposition off and it still means the same thing. “Where are you at?” is wrong because you can write it without the “at” and it means the same thing. “Where are you?” It reminds me of a joke I heard years ago.

An Illinois woman was sitting next to a New York woman on a plane.
The IL woman turned to the NY woman and asked, “Where are you from?”
The NY woman said, “A place where we know better than to end our sentences with a preposition?”
The IL woman sat for a bit before asking, “Where are you from, bitch?”

Adverbs

Schiller GoetheMany people love and respect Stephen King. How can you not? He takes an interest in writers, which is a rare quality for a famous author. I have to admit though that I don’t always agree with his writing tips. Yes, I know, I’m not a famous writer, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a right to my opinion. One of these disagreements comes from his suggestion to avoid adverbs. As he put it, “the adverb is not your friend.” When writing my published books, I did take heed of this warning, and stayed away from adverbs. Every time an adverb popped into my head, I described the scene or person instead.

As I write my current manuscript, I decided to sparingly use some adverbs (split infinitive with an adverb). Recently, I haven’t read a traditional or a self-published book that didn’t have adverbs in it. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Mr. King is suggesting we wipe out an entire form of speech. I can’t do that. Of course, I’m not about to plop down an adverb because I’m too lazy to describe the character or scene, but I’m also not going to stop using them. Several books I read made me want to pull my hair out since that’s all they used. To some writers, an adverb is a great substitute for description. As a reader, I get irritated by excessive use of adverbs, but some adverbs can come in handy. There’s only so much description one can use before sounding redundant.

Present ParticipleDante

While revising my novel, Fogged Up Fairy Tale, I was told that starting sentences with a present participle is unprofessional. It shows an amateur writer. So I went through the book and removed all present participles and gerunds. I understand there are different functions of the –ing words, which make the action awkward or simply impossible. Eating, he asked for a napkin. You can’t eat and ask for a napkin at the same time. Well, I’m sure some people might attempt it, but it isn’t socially acceptable. As I thought about this advice, which is a non-existent rule of grammar, I realized that this suggestion has risen from overuse. Some writer decided they didn’t like it and started advising against present participles. But isn’t everything supposed to be in moderation? To hell with this advice. I’ll go about it in moderation.

What do you think about these do’s, don’ts, and advice? Is there anything you’ve been told about writing that you don’t agree with?

Grammar and Advice,
Baer Necessities

P.S. When I need clarification regarding parts of speech, punctuation, etc., I refer to Grammar Girl.

Day Trip to Historical Sites

My husband and I had a four-day weekend together, so we decided to take a Friday day trip to a few historical sites. The weather was great, so I packed a little lunch and snacks and we were off. We drove about an hour away to the Sauerland District to a town called Arnsberg. As you can see, it has many foothills and the River Ruhr runs through here.

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First mentioned around 800, the counts of Werl built Arnsberg in the 11th century. The castle remains are an attraction for visitors and celebrations. I thought I’d share a few pictures of our travels.

This is the Propsteikirche St. Laurentius church and monastery. I didn’t take any pictures inside the church, but it is beautiful and old. I saw cracks running down the walls, which added to its charm.

007 - Propsteikirche St. LaurentiusWe walked around the town before heading up to the castle. DSCI0156
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DSCI0204And when I saw this sign, I started to sing this song. These are the full lyrics. They’re funny, and it’s actually the first time I’ve ever heard them.

DSCI0155We climbed up some steep streets to get to the castle. Since the castle had been destroyed, there is a replica of what it looked like before its destruction. DSCI0160This is a bunker near the castle where some people hid during WWII when many lives were lost in Arnsberg. DSCI0164
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DSCI0198After a few hours spent in Arnsberg, we drove to the Möhnesee Lake and Dam. This is the Möhne Reservoir, an artificial lake formed by two rivers, Möhne and Heve. The dam was built in the early 1900’s to regulate the Ruhr River’s water levels. During WWII, British bombers, known as the Dambusters, destroyed the dam. Not long after, the Germans quickly repaired it.

We walked around the lake and stopped at a restaurant called Lago for a fresh waffle with hot cherries and ice cream. It was the best waffle I have ever had in my life.

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DSCI0239I’m adding this picture so you could see how low the water is on the side of the lake, and how high it is on the other.DSCI0241

This deserves to be here. I love the yellow Canola fields next to green fields. It’s beautiful.DSCI0247This was a restaurant that offered boating and paddle boats. We didn’t eat there, but I thought it was cute. Maybe next time.DSCI0253Have you traveled anywhere lately?

Travels and Nature,
Baer Necessities

Light My Fire

Have you ever been in a situation where you just can’t believe what’s happening? Well I have. For me, this happened the evening before Easter. We decided to go to evening mass and then watch a bonfire, which is a German Easter tradition. I thought it would be a great experience for me.

That evening, I wasn’t feeling well, but we went anyways. It was close to mass time when we arrived, so we were surprised to find the church dark. My husband guided me in, and as our eyes adjusted we noticed the filled pews. We looked at each other before making our way to the other side of the church, down the aisle without falling. With it being evening, all lights out, and the big heavy metal doors to the over one-hundred year old church closed, it made walking and finding a seat difficult without sitting on anyone.

Once seated behind a huge cement pillar, we saw people with small candles in plastic holders. candlesMy husband went toward the back of the church, retrieved a couple, and returned. While we sat there, I whispered to him about how crazy it was to have people walking in a dark church. I said you’d never see that in the States. He asked why, so I told him because of the danger and the possible lawsuits from someone getting hurt. He explained that suing in Germany is different from in the States, because you can’t sue for such outrageous costs. Even so, I said, if an older person with poor eyesight were to fall, the church is liable for it.

After about five minutes, the priests came down the main aisle and the altar boys and girls followed behind. The altar boys and girls stopped at each row, lit the first candle, and then that person turned to the person next to them, lit their candle and so on. My eyes widened from shock. What? We’re in a dark church, and everyone, including us has a lit candle balancing on the front ledge of the pews. The procession made its way to the altar, we all sat, but I kept turning around to make sure my coat and/or hair wasn’t about to become a pre-bonfire extravaganza.

 By Yoninah

I nudged my husband, mouthing how crazy this was. Filled pews with young and old, coats and hair near flames, was inviting disaster. This wasn’t the plan I had in mind. I merely wanted to attend church, pray, and be thankful for all my blessings. Instead, I started to pray that I wouldn’t catch fire or that anyone would knock over a candle. Then I started to come up with emergency plans. If a fire started near the altar, I’d push my husband out of the pew and we’d run out of the church before anyone else noticed. Or if the fire started in the back, my husband and I would cover our heads with our coats, trample over anyone who got in our way, and run through the fire. After thinking about my emergency plans, I realized it wasn’t very Christian of me not to care for anyone else. To escape the flames, leaving our shoe prints on peoples backs, arms, and legs, made me worry about my soul.

I’m going to burn in hell for these horrible thoughts. Who thinks about trampling over people in a church to save their own lives? I do, that’s who. My eyes began to scan those around me. I watched how they handled their candles, how nonchalant they were about the situation. I wanted to scream, “What’s wrong with you people?” Then I realized it wouldn’t make a difference. They’d just think I was mad. They wouldn’t understand me.

But as mass continued, and I listened to the priest speak in a foreign language pretending to know what he was saying, I started to ease up and enjoy the candlelight ambiance. It began to feel peaceful, even though I was going to hell, so I might as well enjoy what little peace I could get. Halfway through church, the lights went on, and my body sagged a bit from relief. I still couldn’t help glance around at the people—the candles. Some of us blew out our candles when the lights came on, but more than I would have liked decided to keep theirs burning.

Now came communion. My head started to spin from the incense and thoughts of the candles. People will be getting up, holding onto the pew ledge, LEAVING THEIR CANDLES UNATTENDED! Am I the only one who sees a problem here? Yes. Yes I am. Row by row got up for communion, their candlewicks flickering, as people passed by. Up to the altar I walked, thinking about my get away. Any minute someone could knock a candle over—a child kicking the pew, crying for sleep, except the church remained quiet, no accidents happened. And with all the horrors whizzing through my head, I was still able to find our pew.

It wasn’t until the last song when everyone blew them out. Everyone filled the aisles, carrying melted candles, and headed over to the bonfire. Not us. I had had enough of fire. Tradition or not, I didn’t need to stand by a huge fire and think of more outrageous what ifs.

I thanked God for us leaving church alive, went home, and hoped HE will forget about my emergency plans.

Have you been in a situation you just couldn’t believe was happening?

Easter and Fire,
Baer Necessities

Let’s Talk Television

Since living in Germany, I probably watch more television series than when I lived in the States. Maybe it’s my way of connecting with English speakers. Maybe it helps my creativity, which it has in the past. Whatever the reason, the television shows I watch have an underlying commonality. They all kick ass in one way or another. *Stretches and then cracks knuckles* Let me walk you through a few of them.

1) The Good Wife = Hello? She, Alicia Florrick, stuck by her man, Peter, when he strayed and went to jail; a law firm hired her after being out of practice for roughly fifteen years; and it turns out that she kicks ass in court. Then her husband continues his wayward ways, Alicia has an affair with one of her bosses, Will Gardner, finally kicks her husband out of the house, and still wins cases. Plus, my former dreams were of me becoming an attorney.

Picture from Amazon

Set in Chicago, my hometown, Alicia Florrick has seen more ups and downs than a rollercoaster. She sets out to open a new firm, her ex-boss/lover is pissed, and then a guy he represented shoots him dead in court. Now that shocked fans. No one anticipated Will Gardner’s dramatic exit from the show. Peter Florrick, who she no longer lives with, became Governor of Illinois (LOL! I don’t think I’d want to admit being Governor of corrupt Illinois), and she runs for States Attorney. Alicia wins but the Republican Party raises questions regarding voter tampering. The Democratic Party no longer wants to stand behind her, so they tell her to step down. She tries to return to the firm she started, but a billionaire client of theirs refuses to remain a client if she returns. Down on her luck, no job, no States Attorney position, scandal, egg on her face, she moves on. An old client of Alicia’s contacts her to help him fight a first-degree murder charge, and she kicks ass. Now, she’s going to open her own firm, again, and asked Finn Polmar (Mr. Hottie) to join her. Aaannnd, I want Alicia’s wardrobe.

2) Scandal = Olivia Pope is the fixer in Washington. If someone commits murder, Olivia fixes it. If someone gets caught with their pants down, Olivia fixes it. Bottom line, Olivia kicks ass. After helping President Fitzgerald win his election, and becoming his mistress, Olivia starts her own business. Those she chose to help clean up other people’s lives struggle to clean up their own. They become her Gladiators at her crisis management company. With their help, she makes the impossible possible. Plus, my heart quickens while watching this face-paced show.

Picture from Amazon

Set in Washington D.C., Olivia Pope fixes those who fall from grace rise up again. Learning about her parents, fixing people’s lives is in some way, her way of fixing what her parents have done. Her father, Rowan Pope, leader of the secret U.S. group called B-613, kills anyone who stands in his way. Her mother, Maya Lewis, is a vicious terrorist. While trying to separate herself from her parents, Olivia guides her life into the arms of Fitz, Jake Ballard, who once worked for her father, and Franklin Russell (hot), who works for her father. Franklin has attempted to kill Jake, and planned to kill the others who decided to bring down B-613. Now, without letting on, Olivia seduces him, and then holds him at gunpoint to find out what he has planned. She totally kicks ass. Aaannnd, I want Olivia’s wardrobe.

3) Once Upon a Time = This entire cast kicks ass. The creators of the show have brought our childhood fairytales to life with their own twists. Emma Swan, the savior, is Snow White’s and Prince Charming’s daughter. They sent her away in a magical wardrobe before the Evil Queen casts a spell on the fairytale world. Emma is tossed from one foster home to the next, winding up pregnant, and giving the child up for adoption. Fast-forward ten years, and Henry, Emma’s son, shows up in New York to bring her back to Storybrooke. Henry is convinced that all the people in Storybrooke are fairytale characters, and she can break the curse.

Picture from Amazon

Emma brings Henry back to Storybrooke, and decides to stick around for a bit. It turns out Regina, the Evil Queen, is Henry’s adoptive mother. Regina threatens Emma, which only makes Emma stay to make sure Henry is okay. And then we have the all mighty powerful, Mr. Gold, Rumpelstiltskin. Robert Carlyle rocks it. I can’t speak enough about this show. The creators bring in old and new fairytale characters, which are wonderful along with the special effects.

I won’t go into detail about a few other shows I watch religiously, but I have to mention them. The Vampire Diaries, because who doesn’t like hot looking vampires. Nashville, because I love the music they play. Stalker, because Dylan McDermott is on the show. Then there is NCIS: Los Angeles, because I like the characters, and Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. From the titles of the last two, I think you can figure out why I watch them, along with them kicking ass.

So these shows keep me company at night while my husband is grading. BUT, I can’t watch Once Upon a Time, Chicago Fire or Chicago P.D. without him. I got him addicted. And I used kick ass nine times on this post, including this one.

What are you favorite shows? Why are they your favorites?

Television and Fantasy,
Baer Necessities