Vocabulary Restrictions

There are a few words that are looked down upon within novels. These words are mostly vague or a clichés.

Vague Words to be Deleted:

  • Nice
  • Good
  • Bad
  • Sad
  • Happy
  • Like
  • Big
  • Little
  • Pretty
  • Looked
  • Scared
  • Angry
  • Difficult
  • Shocked
  • Interesting
  • Useful
  • Small
  • Went

There are more words in this list as I will add them when I become aware. In addition to these words, it is advised not to use Adverbs ending in –ly

So, once you have finished your story or novel, you should hit the search button and find these words and delete or change them. I’m sure you can find an alternative word that describes what is happening and is less vague. Of course you may say, “Well use an editor.” An editor is very expensive. For a look at your 80,000 word novel ProofReading.Org will charge £1192. That is their cheapest price. Also it is not recommended that you design your own front cover for your novel. I have looked around and found the cheapest at £400 for one cover. You also need ISBN numbers, a different number for an e-book, paperback, hardback. These ISBN numbers are sold in the UK: £89 for one, £149 for a block of ten as you may have all the three options listed above. from Nielson.com So, it’s expensive…

The word ‘said’ is very much laughed upon when used in dialogue, where it is unnecessary, illogical or inconsistent. Writing dialogue that shows emotion, thus it is not necessary to put a tag at the beginning or end. This subject is larger than adding it to this blog. I will give a dedicated blog to that subject later this week.

British English & American English

Even though we both understand each other in verbal and written English, there are a lot of  spelling and grammatical differences. Doing courses and interacting with people in America I have been attacked, marked down and slated for the apparent wrong english. Here are some of the differences of which I am currently aware. I will add more as I become exposed to the differences.

Spelling:

American:

 -ed words

Learned, Spelled, Spoiled        –   Except: Dreamt, Smelt

-or words

Color

British:

-t and –ed words

Learnt/Learned

Burned/Burnt

Dreamed/Dreamt

Leave/Left                                 – Except: Smelled, Leaped

-our words

Colour

Dates:

American:

No Article

My birthday is August 20th

British:

Article + Preposition

My birthday is the 20th of August

Past Participle: – Got

American:

Gotten/Got

(Past) I’ve gotten a toothache.

(Present) I’ve got a toothache.

For necessity: Informal

I got to go.

I got a car.

British:

Got

(past) I’ve had a toothache.

(Present) I’ve got a toothache.

For necessity: Present Perfect

I’ve got to go.

I’ve got a car.

Recent Past Events:

American:

Already/Just/Yet + Past Simple

I just made it.

I’ve already started.

Did he leave yet?

British:

Present Perfect

I have just made it.

I have already started.

Has he left yet?

Subjunctive Mood:

American:

(Present) They suggested he rent a car.

British:

They Suggested that he should rent a car.

They suggested he rented a car.

Collective Nouns:

American:

Singular verb

Brian’s family is coming to visit.

British:

Singular Verb or Plural Verb

Brian’s family is/are coming to visit       – Except: Police

Compound Nouns:

American:

Verb + Noun

Jump Rope.

Dive Board.

British:

Gerund + Noun

Skipping rope.

Diving Board

Short Story First Draft

My Alien Abduction

I was on my way to work on a Thursday in June. Work is one of those places that you do something for someone else, and they pay you money. Clearly, it was sunny, and I enjoyed the half hour drive through the countryside. The sound of the engine was pleasant to me, but I wanted some music. I turned the stereo to my CD, and the music of Elvis became apparent.

The road was on a hill, and the car made some effort to climb, so I reduced gear and gave it some life. The sound of the music became filtered by the noise of a jet plane that was apparently flying low, and it was loud. The racket of the jet plane was growing louder than my stereo music. The plane must be so low in the sky, so I looked around for it, but couldn’t see it anywhere. It was strange that I could still hear it, so I stopped my car on some grass and looked all around. I still couldn’t see the jet. I got out of my car. There was nothing in sight. The noise seemed to be coming from directly above my car. Watching the area, there was nothing to see. There didn’t appear to be anyone else around either. Only when I had looked for thirty seconds that I noticed a shape. It was not solid, but just an outline in the sky. I started to feel dizzy, so I looked down to the floor for a reference. Suddenly the grass and road were converted to a black and white image. I started to feel fear overtake my judgement. I grabbed for my car to hold my balance. My hands went through the car without feeling it. The white colour was becoming dominant in my vision. I couldn’t see my car any longer. My stomach was turned upside down, and I thought here comes my breakfast. Everything was white now, and I couldn’t see my own hands, feet or any body part. Gravity seemed to have been removed as my head was feeling full of blood, just like if you were upside down. I was wearing glasses, but not now. My stomach was becoming uncomfortable. I needed to vomit, just to end the stomach pain.

A spherical object appeared, and it was becoming larger and larger. A second sphere became visible too. The spheres approached together, and I began to hear a squeaky sound. It continued for nearly a minute, then it stopped.

I cleared my throat and spoke, “Hello, where am I? Who are you two? Why can’t I see anything else?”

The squeaking started again but was being transformed from the high-pitched squeak to a recognisable voice.

The aliens exclaimed, “We apologise. We have been receiving transmissions from this planet and analysed a lot of them. This language is English… Yes?”

“That is correct. Who are you, where are we and what’s this white colour?” I questioned.

The aliens stated, “Your English language has no known words to us that describe who we are and the form we take.”

I asked, “So, what you want? Am I the right person with which to speak?”

The aliens explained, “Oh dear Lord, apparently, the protocol for introductions is discussions and meetings.” There was a pause, and then they resumed, “We have a problem with this planet of yours, and wish to stop the transmissions.”

I stammered, “Oh crap, I’m definitely not the right person. You need to speak with leaders and scientists of our planet.” I was getting used to the white background and my stomach, although feeling rough I had it under control. The fear was still there, but I was now aware of the situation.

“The radio wave transmissions from this planet are interfering with the lifestyle on our planet, and we must rectify that situation.”

I frowned and took a deep breath and remarked, “How is it disrupting the life on your planet?”

The alien visitors continued, “We use electromagnetic frequencies for communication from individual to individual. This connection is being interrupted when the transmissions from your planet are received, and it makes general miscommunication likely.” The globes changed colour and turned a dark red. “We are being damaged by the projections from your planet, and it is an attack on our society. We must stop you from transmitting the omissions that affect our lifestyle. We may have to destroy this planet.”

I guess they were incredibly angry. Fear within me began to rise for myself and the planet Earth. “Alright, we need to get out of here and communicate with our leaders and scientists. I’m sure we can come to some joint agreement, and there is no need for any disruption on either of our planets, ok? Where is your planet?” I asked.

The aliens responded, “All we can give you is speed and distance travelled, as we cannot point to it or have knowledge of your own star charts. The concept of time requires the knowledge of how the electromagnetic waves are counted. You are a different life form we have encountered within this atmosphere. We tried to communicate, and we had to perform some tests on the number of electromagnetic cycles you could detect, both visually and audibly. Other life forms on this planet have different detection ranges.”

“Have you been speaking with animals?” My mind was thinking about communication with the rest of the life on this planet. What did they say?” I was getting half interested in their communication to other lifeforms and saving our planet. “Ok, distance. The only speed that is constant is light. Are you aware of that speed?”

Insisted the extra-terrestrials, “I certainly think so as light is an electromagnetic wave and we use it. But, you are only conscious of a narrow band, and we are capable of moving into the range in which you can identify us,”

“So, what percentage of electromagnetic wave speed did you travel, and how long was your journey?” It did feel ridiculous talking with two spheres inside an entirely white zone. So, I mentioned, “Are you able to exit your starship?”

“You are currently within our vessel, and we could alter its electromagnetic wave frequency so your lifeform may recognise our identity. We transported you to our starship and created an atmosphere that sustains your life,” explained the aliens.

I stammered, “So, if you move me outside again and follow me, I could take you to the people with which you should be talking.”

“Agreed, we will transport you and create the electromagnetic waves so we can continue to communicate with your limited frequency waveband.”

I was a little happier and replied “Alright, let’s go.” Once again, I was blinded by the whiteness of the experience. Gravity came back and so did the ground, my arms, legs and glasses. I looked around and still didn’t see their starship. Above my car, an object started to become visible. It was about the size of a watermelon. There was also a voice I could hear.”

“We would like to meet the supreme scientist of your planet—Doctor Sheldon Cooper,” the aliens requested.

“Doctor who?… Wait a minute, where did you hear that name?” I asked.

“The Doctor Sheldon Cooper was mentioned almost every time we analysed the waveform interference. It also appeared to contain a lot of scientific terms.”

“Do you also recognise the words—The Big Bang Theory?”

“Yes, that was all over the place on the electromagnetic interference.”

“Oh no, there will be a lot of explaining to be done,” I replied.

***

It’s only a first draft for all the science geeks, and I have a few hundred words spare and a week to play with it, and edit. There you go, that’s the genre. Any comments and suggestions would be helpful.

15 Minutes Pantsing

If you don’t know what to write about, here’s a story idea:
A young woman/man stumbles across a dead body in the woods. What does she/he do?

I was walking home through Benson Wood. It was 5:30 pm after work, and still sunny as it was early in July. I decided to cut a corner and walk through the grass as it was a short-cut home. I’d been walking for nearly five minutes when I noticed a bare foot resting on a tree root. I thought, “Oh, someone needs shoes and socks.” I got closer, and the exposed foot still hadn’t moved in the thirty or so seconds I’d been walking closer. I rounded the tree and saw it was attached to a man; a naked man sat with his back to the tree. I stopped—Wait a minute; he doesn’t seem embarrassed. I said hello, and he didn’t respond. I closed in on him, and his eyes were open, but they looked dry with no sparkle as normal. His nakedness apparently showed he was having great fun with a full erection. I touched his neck feeling for a pulse. He wasn’t cold, but there was no traces of a pulse. I reached for my mobile phone and dialled 999.
“Hello, what service do you require?”
“The Police please, as an ambulance is too late.”
“Reading Police Department, how can I help?”
“I’m walking through Benson Wood, to get home and I’ve come across a dead body. It’s a man; it’s a naked man propped up against a tree.”
After giving the police my details and location, they asked me to remain until they had arrived.
Ok, This guy was obviously having sex when his heart stopped, and he died. The blood in his body stopped moving and remained in its location. There was no condom, clothes or bags either. Was it a wife or lover with whom he was having sex in a public wood? Why they take his clothes? All his possessions have gone and determining an identity would be difficult.

—-

That was a fifteen-minute exercise of writing for fifteen-minutes. I have edited it cleaning up the comma splices and little spelling mistakes. It seems I can write about 1200 words an hour by pantsing it. In NaNoWriMo, I was online in chat rooms, and a lot of people love pantsing. They said 2700 words a day was no problem. I have to admit that this fifteen-minute exercise of pantsing was fun, but I couldn’t write fast enough as ideas were arriving and changing continuously. Fifteen-minutes were all right, but two and a quarter hours like that every day for 31 days? That was not in my capabilities and I stopped NaNoWriMo. Maybe you noticed the fact that I’m currently doing a course on Forensic Science and Profiling. I didn’t pay that much as I got it through Groupon.

I also filled in a questionnaire about which classic novelist I was like. The answer I received was: Mary Shelley. I answered one of the questions that I liked writing on a Mac computer. Interesting that Mary Shelley had a Mac computer in the 1810s to 1840s. Didn’t know they were that old.

Short Stories

Elements of a short story

  1. Setting
  2. Characterisation
  3. Plot
  4. Theme
  5. Point of view

Short stories have between 500 and 17,000 words. The short story competition has a maximum of 2000 words.

Setting:

The setting of a story involves the Where and When the story takes place.

Characterisation:

This involves the characters of the story. Obviously there must be characters within the story, and they should ‘Show Don’t Tell.’ This is the first and last comment you will receive from a course tutor or literary agent. I will give a separate post on ‘show don’t tell’.

Plot:

This is a series of events or scenes surrounding, Exposition, Conflict, Climax, Resolution. For, in this case ‘The person in the hole.’

Theme:

It is good in a short story to impart a message. Show how difficulties can be approached and beaten. Humour is popular also.

Point of View:

As within a novel, the point of view is very important and must be one of 1st person (I, me) or 3rd person (He, She, They).

 

Sentence Diagrams

Sentence Structure

I am using the website 1AiWay to check my sentences as comma splices are my favourite error. Sentences are often very short or very long. There are 4 different types of sentence:

1, Simple

2, Compound

3, Complex

4, Compound-complex

An independent clause is a string of words that include a subject and a verb that expresses a thought:fullsizeoutput_24ce

Simple Sentence

The sentence “Dogs bark loud.” is a simple sentence and the diagram is:

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Compound Sentence

The sentence “I cooked dinner, and Joe had some.” is a compound sentence and it contains two clauses connected with a comma and coordinating conjunction:fullsizeoutput_24c6

Complex Sentence

The sentence “Brian laughed because the party was inexpensive.” is a complex sentence as it contains two clauses joined by a subordinating conjunction:fullsizeoutput_24c5

Compound-Complex Sentence

The sentence “Brian laughed because the party was cheap, and I payed for a lot.” is a compound-complex sentence as it contains three independent clauses and a coordinating conjunction, as well as a subordinating conjunction:fullsizeoutput_24c4

The smallest sentence ever is undoubtedly:fullsizeoutput_24c7

I am writing the short story for the Spring Writing Contest about a man in a hole. I will of course show my attempt and the feedback from the judges.