Monday, November 03, 2008

Prepositions, The End & Noah's Ark

I get a 'word-a-day' email every day. The other day I got this one and it made me chuckle. I hope you enjoy it too. "A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg - Prepositions don't get much respect. Nouns, verbs, adjectives... those are the words we usually pay attention to. Who has ever looked up in a thesaurus to find a better preposition? Who has complimented an author on his choice of prepositions? They might as well be invisible.Yet prepositions are some of the most important parts of the sentence. They work to connect various parts. And if you have any doubt about the role or importance of these hard-working nuts and bolts of a language, ask anyone who has tried to learn a new language. Prepositions are among the hardest to master. Literally speaking, a preposition is something that is positioned before a noun. These are little words, such as in, to, of, up, for, etc., though they are not always a single syllable. There are some pretty long ones: amongst, concerning, notwithstanding. And there are some fancy prepositions (contra, cum, a la, and so on).'

The author goes on to say, 'One can find sentences ending with preps in the lines of some of the finest writers in history: Chaucer, Swift, Kipling, Shakespeare and so on. "We are such stuff as dreams are made on" -- Try rephrasing that line from The Tempest. See what inelegant glob results. This canard about no-prepositions-at-the-end belongs in the same dustbin as "Thou shalt not split an infinitive." So the next time people fault you for ending a sentence with a preposition, ask them: "What are you talking about?"'

Also, I was reading the August 2008 issue of The Writer and I came across the article 'Make Your Readers Stick Around' by John Edward Ames. He made some good points, but two really attracted my attention. One is a paragraph that states, 'Once the climax peaks, remember that all conflict is resolved. Thus, reader interest immediately plummets, so end the story fast. There's a special room in hell for writers who resist those all-important two words, The End.'

The second covers adjectives. 'Speaking of adjectives, avoid annoying your readers with the Noah's Ark syndrome - i.e. adjectives that march in two by two. "She was an apple-cheeked, cheery woman dressed in expensive, tasteful clothing." And be especially sparing with verb-adverb constructions, deleting all adverbs that weaken the verb by repeating it: bloomed loudly, bolted his food ravenously.'

I know I'm often guilty of both so I'd thought I'd share the info.

Today was a quiet day of writing and adding more to my novel, 'The Women Between'. I've been getting some nice reviews on my website at . I can thank Denise for that.

I visited my friend Shirley Wolford in the hospital today. She's my writer friend who is ninety-four and blind. She has authored many books, both by herself and with her husband. One, 'The Southern Blade' was made into a movie with Glen Ford called 'A Time for Killing'. It was one of Harrison Ford's first movies. In fact he is shown as 'uncredited'. Well, Shirley broke her leg awhile back, then had to have a hip replacement. None of it went well. Her husband passed away years ago and she had no children. She's very lonesome, even though she has some great friends who show her much love and compassion. I promised to go to see her on Wednesday and read to her. She loves history, so I'll find something on that order. I'm not a praying person, but I'm thinking good thoughts for her and hope you will, too.


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