Monday, March 12, 2012

A Dry Writing Day

No, I am not referring to the weather when I say today was a dry writing day. I am referring to the writing reality that not all days as an author may be spent indulging in the wonderfully creative process of putting words on paper to create a great story. And, since I am one writer who loves to research, a "dry" writing day does not refer to that either.

Today was dictionary and style manual day.

These four books are sitting beside me today. I usually use the online dictionary when I am in the process of writing. However, when the computer is off, and I need a quick look-up of a word, this is my standard go-to book. I have owned this Webster's Standard American Style Manual for years. (You can tell by the price--I doubt I can find a style manual for that price nowadays.) A lot of people, including many family history writers, like the Chicago style manual, which I found and used online when I was taking law classes. But, this book, for a quick look-up, works well.

The Basic Usage, Vocabulary, and Composition book, copyrighted in 1975, I have had since my early days enrolled in the "Writer's Digest Book Club" (not sure if that is the proper usage -- have not looked it up yet) has some good information. However, today, after I stalled as long as I could, I got busy reading through The Elements of Grammar. It is not exciting reading, but, I must admit, it was more interesting than I thought it would be. You can see in my picture I have my little homemade tabs and my highlighter to draw attention to elements of grammar to which I probably will want to refer in the future.

I know I won't do it, but it would not hurt me to read through this book about every 2-3 months, just to refresh myself on all that good grammar usage that sometimes stumps me when I am in the process of putting words on paper. After all, certain usages just are not comfortable to me, and I have to look them up every time. One, for example, is that it is not intuitive to me to ALWAYS put a period inside of quote marks, even for "short phrases." Yet, there it is on page 103. Why is it that I can only put the end-of-sentence punctuation outside the quote marks when "it is a question"? Or, for some reason, it's okay if it is "an exclamation point"!

Don't ask me. I just pack plenty of water and chocolate and buckle down to double-check all that dry style and usage business when I am in the final stages of editing one of my books.

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