My Day Job

All writers should have at least one.  I’m an online writing tutor.  Often I feel like Thurber’s Miss Groby, but I do try not to lose sight of the forest when hacking through the thickets of comma splice, sentence fragment, and dangling participle.  (Block that metaphor!)  Sometimes I contribute to the WriteCheck blog:

Making a Scene

Sentence Fragments

Contextualizing Quotes

Pronoun Cases

Writing Critically

Defining Words

Showing and Telling

Spellcheckers and How to Use Them

Parallelism

Essential vs. non-essential (Restrictive vs. nonrestrictive)

Commas

Capitalization

O, Apostrophe, Where Art Thou?

Transitions

Arguments

 

I actually love this stuff, and I’m always learning.  If you understand the reason behind a grammar or punctuation rule, you’ll be able to write more effectively.  When we write fiction, we’re of course free to break the rules, but we need to know what they are and, in each case, why they should be broken.   Respect your tools.  That’s the ticket.  And since you already do, I’m not going to insult you with the answers to this quiz*:

1. In the sentence “Hortense was furious when the judges overlooked her rhubarb omelet,”   the underlined word is an example of which of the following parts of speech?

 

  1. participle
  2. verb
  3. noun
  4. adjective
  5. adverb
  6. none of the above

 

2. In the sentence, “Hortense vowed, ‘There will be repercussions,” the underlined phrase is an example which of the following verb forms?

 

  1. the simple future tense
  2. the present tense, passive voice
  3. the future tense, passive voice
  4. the future perfect tense
  5. the future perfect tense, passive voice

 

3. In the sentence, “As she spoke, Hortense’s face turned an alarming shade of crimson,” the underlined word is what part of speech?

 

  1. a past participle
  2. a past tense verb
  3. a linking verb
  4. a causative verb
  5. (2) and (3)
  6. (1) and (2)

 

4. Which accurately describes the following sentence: “German shepherds are great problem solvers, and basset hounds never let go of a grudge”?

 

  1. run-on
  2. fragment
  3. compound sentence
  4. comma splice
  5. (3) and (4)
  6. (1) and (4)
  7. none of the above

 

5. In the sentence, “Infuriated bassets often exact revenge days after the perceived offence,” the underlined word is what part of speech?

 

  1. past tense verb
  2. gerund
  3. present participle
  4. past participle
  5. none of the above

 

6. Fill in the blanks: “A basset hound’s ideal afternoon consists of __________ on his back in the sun with _______ tongue hanging out.”

 

  1. laying, its
  2. lying, it’s
  3. laying, it’s
  4. lying, its
  5. lying, their

 

7. What punctuation does this sentence need? “Because of the city-wide truffle shortage Chef Monsoun will be unable to prepare Coquilles St. Jacques and patrons will have to make do with Coquilles San Souci.”

 

  1. a semicolon after “Jacques”
  2. a comma after “shortage”
  3. a colon after “shortage”
  4. a comma after “Jacques
  5. both (2) and (4)
  6. none of the above

 

8. In the sentence “Coquilles San Souci” is  prepared from bizarre, literally nauseating ingredients,” what are the two underlined parts of speech?

 

  1. past tense verb, past participle
  2. past participle, present participle
  3. past tense verb, present tense verb
  4. none of the above

 

9. Which accurately describes the sentence “Basset hounds will eat almost anything, however even a basset will turn up its enormous nose at Coquilles San Souci”?

 

  1. a run-on
  2. a fused sentence
  3. a comma splice
  4. none of the above

 

10. In the sentence “On the other hand, to a discerning basset with refined taste buds, Hortense’s rhubarb omelet is the bomb,” the underlined words are what parts of speech?

 

  1. preposition, adjective
  2. adverb, indefinite article
  3. preposition, definite article
  4. none of the above

 

Pointless Quiz No. 2

What kind of phobic are you?































Another Time-Wasting Idea for Writers: The Pointless Quiz

You can make them up yourself, then con strangers into wasting their own time taking them.   Here’s the first:  

What obscure body part are you?































Time-Wasting Ideas for Writers

Fellow writers are invited to describe how they avoid writing; they may even display their writing-avoidance achievements right here on this page.  

I’ll go first.  

Pointless cross-stitching is, I’ve found, much better for this activity than TV-watching, floor-scrubbing, and mousing around on the web.   There’s the pseudo creativity angle, plus the fact that you’re making a surprise gift for a loved one, or even a passing acquaintance.   Hell, you could even sandbag a total stranger on the street.   Instead of a fistful of germy M&Ms, you could slip the unwitting  passerby  a one-of-a-kind wall decoration.   Below is a keepsake for my son, the fabulously talented jazz keyboardist Ed Kornhauser, who has yet to learn he’s getting it.   I got the idea from his Facebook page.    I can’t wait to see his face light up with joy.   Or possibly alarm. Next I’d love to do “Release the kraken,” although I’m having trouble figuring out who would best benefit from such a memento.    The horizons are limitless!  

Look, if you’re not going to join me, stop me.   It’s up to you.  

Note that artistic talent is completely optional.

A New Time-Wasting Game

is waiting for players.   Click on the link to the right entitled The Agony of the Feet.   If you don’t remember what “dactylic” means, look it up.