Grammar Gripes

By Carlie M A Cullen

I don’t know about you, but there are some grammatical errors I see in people’s writing that really make me want to pull my hair out!

 

Photo courtesy of Alatimes

Photo courtesy of Alatimes

 

Now I’m the first to admit I’m not perfect, BUT these particular gripes aren’t too difficult to wrap your head around. So I thought I’d clarify them in the hope that if it helps to improve even one person’s writing it’s time well spent.

 1)      YOUR v YOU’RE

 The number of times I see ‘your’ used instead of ‘you’re’ is unbelievable!

 YOUR – means belonging to, as in your house’, ‘your car’, ‘your dog’ – you get the idea.

 YOU’RE – is a contraction of ‘you’ and ‘are’, as in you’re (you are) going to bed’, you’re (you are) welcome’ andyou’re (you are) not very happy today’.

 

Image from uptownpm.com

Image from uptownpm.com

 

2)      THEN v THAN

 This is another one that tends to crop up on a surprisingly regular basis.

 THEN – has three uses in grammar:

                        Adverb – ‘I didn’t know it then, but I know now’

                        Conjunction – ‘The President spoke and spoke well, then sat down’

                        Adjective (less common) – ‘The advice on bending the rules came from the then Minister, Paul Johns’

THEN means ‘at that time’, ‘at the time in question’; ‘after that’, ‘next’, ‘afterwards’; ‘in that case’, ‘therefore’.

Used at the end of a sentence to emphasize an inference being drawn: ‘so you’re still here then?’

 Used to finish a sentence: ‘see you in an hour then

THAN –  introduces the second element in a comparison: ‘he was much smaller than his son’, ‘Jack doesn’t know any more than I do’

Used in expressions introducing an exception or contrast: [as preposition]: ‘he claims not to own anything other than his home’ [as conjunction]: ‘they observe rather than act’

[conjunction] used in expression indicating one thing happening immediately after another: ‘scarcely was the work completed than it was abandoned’

 

Image from kirstiewest.com

Image from kirstiewest.com

 

3)      THERE v THEIR v THEY’RE

This is my other main gripe. It doesn’t tend to crop up as much as the two above, but is still misused regularly.

THERE – relates to ‘in’, ‘at’ ‘to a place or position’:

                  ‘we went to Paris and stayed there seven days’

                   ‘at the end of the day we are there to make money’

                   ‘I’m not going in there – it’s freezing!’

THEIR – means ‘belonging to’:

                  ‘we went to their house’

                   ‘where are their clothes?’

                   ‘I had a collision with their car’

 THEY’RE – is a contraction of ‘they’ and ‘are’, as in:

                 they’re (they are) a good team’

                  ‘they’re (they are) busy with decorating’

                  ‘who do they think they’re (they are) fooling?’

dictionary

 

I hope this makes things much clearer!

Do you have any Grammar Gripes? Please share – we’d love to read them!

 dictionary-open

 

 

 

 

KIDS WRITING COMPETITION

By Carol Thomas

Does your child love to write?

Would they like the chance to be published?

Writebulb Writers’ Group are running a competition for all UK children aged 7-12. First prize is publication in our second children’s anthology plus a copy of the book and two runners up will also receive a copy of the book.

This book has a Christmas theme (the last was for Halloween.) It might seem too early to be thinking about Christmas but in a writer’s world it is never too early! They can write about anything Christmas related.

All entries must be in by 23rd August, so there isn’t long (It’s half way through the summer holidays so they should be bored by now!).  Maximum word count is 2000 but there is no minimum. Entries can be stories or poems or both.

If you think this might be something your child would enjoy check out the competition link below for guidelines and entry form.

All proceeds from book sales go to Farleigh Hospice.

Link to competition details: http://writebulb.wordpress.com/kids-competitions/

Looking for Alaska by John Green

by Sarah-Jane Bird

How will I ever get out of this labyrinth?

John Green’s books have a fandom so intense I was almost reluctant to read his award winning debut novel Looking for Alaska. Social media idolises Green and his characters, and he is the second most followed author on Goodreads, second only to Cassandra Clare. I’m quite a tough sell on YA fiction, but I knew I wouldn’t stop wondering about this book until I sat down and read it. So I did.

Miles Halter joins Culver Creek boarding school, hoping to seek ‘A Great Perhaps’. A self confessed bookish nerd with an obsession with famous ‘last words’, Miles is and dare I say it – your typical so uncool he is kind of cool teenage boy. His roommate Chip introduces Miles to Alaska. Enigmatic, intense Alaska Young.

On the surface, Looking for Alaska is a story of the nerd who meets his ‘Manic Pixie Dreamgirl’ and falls desperately in love. Green has taken an overused trope and twisted it just enough that we get real depth with his characters. Alaska is deeply troubled, and even though she admits how unhappy she is Miles only sees the side of her that he wants to see. Miles idolises quirky and vibrant Alaska, and struggles to accept her as a whole, troubled person.

Looking for Alaska is a funny, touching and very realistic portrayal of a group of teenage outsiders. Beneath the adolescent veneer of alcohol, cigarettes and sex is a story about growing up, in one of the harshest ways possible.  I loved reading this book, Green writes beautifully.

4/5

Writers Worth Listening To

by James Batchelor

Sharing ideas at Writebulb meetings is all well and good, but sometimes you just want to hear things from the professionals. Or at least those closer to professionalism than us.

For this, I subscribe to writer’s podcasts. These shows are free, easily accessible via iTunes or their respective websites, and make for great listening when you’re journeying to work, waiting for a train/bus, working out at the gym or just taking a walk (guess which of the four I’ve long since given up on).

I have tried several over the years, but there’s two that remain essential pillars of my weekly listening regime. Check them out for yourselves…

Writing Excuses

www.writingexcuses.com

Hosted by several published authors – including Brandon Sanderson, author of the most recent Wheel of Time novels and the Mistborn series – this show is fantastic for giving you an insight into both the writing process and the business of publishing your work. Given that episodes are only fifteen(ish) minutes long, it’s incredible how much the team crams into each weekly discussion as they cover everything from how to write certain genres, common grammatical mistakes and whether or not you need an editor or traditional publisher. More often than not, they have expert guests on to help them discuss the topic at hand. They even give you a writing prompt at the end of each episode if you’re stuck for ideas, and their Book of the Week promotion with Audible gives you some good recommendations for future reads.

Dead Robots’ Society

www.deadrobotssociety.com

While this show is considerably longer than Writing Excuses, clocking in at between one and two hours, it’s possibly been the most helpful to me. Hosted by three self-published authors (although the trio has changed over time), this show discusses topics in-depth each week, really getting into the nitty gritty of whatever aspect of the writing process they’re focusing on – it’s very rare to come away from an episode of DRS and feel like the conversation is unfinished. Occasionally the discussion goes on unexpected but no less useful tangents, and the friendly rivalry between the three hosts makes it all the more welcoming. Perhaps my favourite aspect of this show is the opening icebreaker: “how’s your writing been this week?” While listening to the trio grill and motivate each other, I find myself feeling smug if I’ve accomplished something since the previous episode or guilty if I haven’t.

Both shows have their full archives available at their websites, so you can go back and listen to the lot or pick and choose episodes that would be most relevant to you. Let me know if you find any more – there’s always room in my routine for more writing podcasts.

 

The Muse Has Returned

by Carol Thomas

I have been struggling with writing fiction since I found out I was pregnant last August. I was so distracted with getting to the next milestone in the pregnancy that my mind was unable to concentrate on anything else.

As New Year 2014 neared I started to panic that I would find myself years down the line, once the child was at pre-school, one of those people who tells people they ‘used to write.’

100k100days started on January 1st and I resolved to take that on again. I found it hard to create fiction so threw myself into writing non-fiction for my Life Story that I am dabbling with. I found this easier because I didn’t have to make anything up, the material was already there.

I found it frustrating though not being able to write what I really wanted to. My imaginary friends wouldn’t talk to me. January brought with it the plans for the Writebulb anthologies, not one but two! Then there was the little matter of my unfinished thriller that I had promised myself I would have finished last year.

I forced myself to work on my own novel; luckily I had made notes of what I needed to do. I wrote blog posts in longhand and read more to try to get my brain moving.

Then something amazing happened! I had a couple of opening chapters tucked away that I had started but found I didn’t like. I re-read them and realised what was wrong with one of them and why it hadn’t worked. I liked the plot idea so wiped it, only keeping character names and basic plot, then started writing. The words flowed.

Then something crazy happened. I realised what was wrong with the other story. I was so excited by it that I had to get that opening re-written.

So now only a few days after struggling to write any fiction I have three to work on. I am dividing my writing time between them all.

I also have the first anthology piece well under way, so hopefully this will be a good writing year for me.

 

Magic, Mystery and Mayhem

Writebulb Book-Signing Event

by Beverly Townsend

On Saturday 5th July the Writebulb Writers Group held their third book signing event at Chelmsford Library. Our latest tome worthy of a signing is called ‘Magic, Mystery and Mayhem’ – an anthology of eighteen stories written by members of the group. After months of writing, editing and proofreading our latest, much anticipated book, has finally been published.

The signing was well attended by the authors who were all in place at 10am, at desks arranged in a U-shape formation with notices on boards positioned behind us stating who we were and encouraging the library patrons to come across, say ‘Hello’, and with any luck buy a copy.

Carlie and Maria organised the event and Sarah-Jane made delicious cup cakes which were much appreciated by everyone.  Kerry acted as cashier for each book purchased and Carol handed out advertising leaflets in the City Centre with her new baby boy in tow.

There was much anticipation by the authors, all poised with pens in hands waiting for the hoards to arrive, buy a book and come across for our signatures. Alas it was a bit of a slow start; most of the Saturday morning regulars just looked across in our direction, then carried on with the task of choosing their favourite reads, but others approached us curious to know why we were there.

Some of the authors circulated, speaking to staff and public encouraging them to come over and take a look at our latest work together with a choice of other published works by the group.

Friends and families of the authors arrived and purchased books and chatted to us and said they were looking forward to a good read; it was also the first opportunity for the authors to purchase a copy.

Trade improved as time went on, and as far as I could see quite a few books were sold towards the end of the session which were all enthusiastically signed by the authors. Everyone was in good spirits and at 1pm when the event ended I lost count of the number of books I had signed.

 

One of our group members did a Vlog of the event:

 

If you were there, let us know what you thought in the comments below!

The book can be purchased here, and all profit goes to Farleigh Hospice in Chelmsford.

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