Before I launch into a grammar diatribe, I have to announce that I passed the halfway point in my current WIP! [Insert happy dance here! :-D]
Okay, back to the blog… The confusion over passive voice, the use of “was” and -“ing”, and the definition of showing versus telling has been bothering me for a while now. Yes, I’m a bit of a grammar nerd. (Though far from perfect!)
I believe a poor understanding of English is insidious when incorrect information is perpetuated by course instructors, critique partners, and contest judges. Authors fear every word they put on paper, frantically seeking new ways to strike “was” from their MS, and deathly afraid of telling us their character “feels” an emotion, rather than showing us through action.
So I was ecstatic to read author Amy Corwin’s excellent (with references!) explanation of common grammar myths and show versus tell. If you’re one of the confused, check it out.
Another excellent resource for all things grammar, is Grammar Girl. She has a website, and free podcasts on iTunes. On the website, you can subscribe to daily tips via email, or just search the site for the answer to your burning grammar question.
If you prefer a book, there are several good ones out there (I only linked to Amazon for your convenience, not because I’ll get any money if you buy).
- The Elements of Style by Strunk & White is a classic
- Woe is I is written by Patricia T. O’Connor (a frequent guest on Leonard Lopate’s radio show)
- The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: A Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager and the Doomed by Karen Elizabeth Gordon
There are, of course, many others. Ask your friends. Most importantly, be in the know. Don’t let uninformed writers scare you with incorrect information.
By all means, get aggressive at eradicating passive voice from your MS. But be sure you understand what it is first.
The Daily Squirrel: coffee
The aroma of freshly brewed coffee couldn’t lift Jill’s spirits as she rode the elevator up, every jarring ding taking her one floor closer to a day of cubicle-contained hell.
A year ago, she couldn’t believe her luck when Mark Alder had chosen her to take over the team of programmers. But only months later, Mark quit and Dean Barlow moved in. Dean rode the team hard, giving them impossible deadlines, and never acknowledging the hard work her team put in to meet them. As the team leader, she was stuck in the middle, taking flak from both sides.
Her blood pressure spiked as she stepped off the elevator onto plush, gray carpet, but she vowed not to let Dean get to her. Today was the day she’d push back.
One of the programmers stopped her in the lobby, ready to burst with shocking news. She wouldn’t need to push back today or ever, because someone else had pushed Dean…right off the roof.