The EFC Writer – Em Dashes and En Dashes

Welcome to the EFC Writer—a series of quick, easily digestible writing tips based on some stuff EFC Services editor Melissa Ruiz is seriously annoyed you’re still doing.  

 

TODAY’S TOPIC: Em Dashes and En Dashes

 
You know those dash thingies you’re tossing in your sentences all over the place?  Yeah. There’s actually a name for those. The big ones are called Em Dashes and the little ones are called En Dashes.

Use Em Dashes (the big ones) to add more explanation to your sentence or to denote sudden breaks in thought, structure, or dialogue.  Oh, and don’t put spaces on either side of them. Chrissy really hates that.

Like this:

  • My son was crying again—I told him he couldn’t have ice cream for breakfast.

OR

  • “But why can’t I have ice cream for—Oh look, a cat!”

 

Use En Dashes (the little ones, which are bigger than hyphens but smaller than em dashes) to hook numbers, dates, and words together.

Like this:

  • Reference pages 123 – 134
  • 1947 – 1983

 

FOR GRAMMAR GEEKS: ——–

 
If your word processor doesn’t automatically convert your hyphens to the appropriately sized dash, here’s a quick guide to doing it manually:

http://www.dashhyphen.com/dash-keyboard/

 

MERRIAM-WEBSTER DEFINITION:

 
Em Dash:
noun
~ a dash that is one em wide

En Dash:
noun
~ a dash that is one-half the length of an em dash

Have a suggestion or request for an EFC Writer topic? Want to complain about something? Want more info about EFC Services?

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melissasig

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The EFC Writer – That vs Which

 

Welcome to the EFC Writer — a series of quick, easily digestible writing tips based on some stuff EFC Services editor Melissa Ruiz is seriously annoyed you’re still doing.  

 

TODAY’S TOPIC: THAT vs WHICH

If you can take your phrase out without changing the meaning of your sentence, use “which.” If you can’t, use “that.”

Look:

  • Milk that has expired is gross.
  • Milk, which tastes delicious, doesn’t last forever.

FOR GRAMMAR GEEKS: RESTRICTIVE vs NONRESTRICTIVE CLAUSES

RESTRICTIVE CLAUSES can’t be removed from a sentence or they’ll change its meaning.  If you’re using a restrictive clause, stick with “that” and skip the commas.

Check out my example above. See how if you remove “that has expired” you change the meaning of the sentence? Now you’re saying ALL milk, not just the expired stuff, is gross.  Restrictive = necessary for the sentence to mean what you want. Get it? Use “that.”

NONRESTRICTIVE CLAUSES, on the other hand, can be edited away without changing what anything means. They’re often offset with commas, and in this case “which” is your best bet.

Take a peek at my second example sentence. Go ahead! Cut “which tastes delicious” right the heck out of there and then read it again. See? Nonrestrictive = doesn’t change the meaning of your sentence if you delete it. Use “which.”

MERRIAM-WEBSTER DEFINITION:

restrictive clause:

noun
:  an adjective clause so closely attached to its noun as to be essential to the definiteness of the noun’s meaning (as who succeeded in the boy who succeeded had worked hard) — called also determinative clause

nonrestrictive clause:

noun
:  a descriptive clause that adds information but is so loosely attached to the main clause as to be not essential to the definiteness of its meaning and to be marked off from it by commas (as in the aldermen,who were present, assented)

 

Have a suggestion or request for an EFC Writer topic? Want to complain about something? Want more info about EFC Services?

E-mail me: everyfreechance@gmail.com with EFC Writer in the subject line.

 

melissasig

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The EFC Writer – Common Nouns vs. Proper Nouns (Appositives)

 

Welcome to the EFC Writer — a series of quick, easily digestible writing tips based on some stuff EFC Services editor Melissa Ruiz is seriously annoyed you’re still doing.  

 

TODAY’S TOPIC: COMMON NOUNS VS. PROPER NOUNS (Appositives)

Seems easy, right? Madonna is a woman. Target is a store. My Prius is not a cool car. Capitalize the proper nouns and leave the common ones lowercase.  OK, but guys, if it’s so easy, then WHY are you still doing things like this:

  • I would love to speak to the President. 
  • The Detective closed the case. 
  • FBI Special Agent Melissa Ruiz discovered an alien.  

STOP IT. Seriously. DON’T capitalize anything unless you’re talking about a specific noun. If you’re using the noun to indirectly reference something, it should not be capitalized. If, on the other hand, you’re using it alone as part of a name, uppercase away, my friends (and yes, I just verbed a noun. Twice. Sue me).  Like this:

  • I would love to speak to President Obama. 
  • I want to re-open the case, Detective McHottie. 
  • Did you discover an alien, Agent Ruiz? 

FOR GRAMMAR GEEKS:

Appositives are tricky . . . they give more information about the words following them, and they’re often official titles. They come BEFORE the name, but they’re used as descriptions of the person rather than as part of the title.

MERRIAM-WEBSTER DEFINITION:

APPOSITIVE – ap·pos·i·tive –

APPOSITIVE – ap·pos·i·tive – adjective \ə-ˈpä-zə-tiv, a-\

Definition of APPOSITIVE

:  of, relating to, or standing in grammatical apposition
appositive noun
ap·pos·i·tive·ly adverb

 

Have a suggestion or request for an EFC Writer topic? Want to complain about something? Want more info about EFC Services?

 

E-mail me: everyfreechance@gmail.com with EFC Writer in the subject line.

 

melissasig

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The EFC Writer – AWHILE

 

Welcome to the EFC Writer — a series of quick, easily digestible writing tips based on some stuff EFC Services editor Melissa Ruiz is seriously annoyed you’re still doing.  

 

TODAY’S TOPIC: STOP SMASHING WORDS TOGETHER!

 
I won’t discuss “a lot.”  I won’t. You know better than to smash those two words together. But let’s talk about “awhile” and “a while,” OK?

Generally, if you can add the word “for” in front of “awhile,” you’re cool smashing everything together.  The great news is that if you CAN do that, you can probably use the two-word version without changing the meaning of your sentence. Isn’t that great? Look:

  • I’m going to nap (for) awhile.
  • I’m going to nap a while.

But guys, if the word “for” doesn’t fit in your sentence you need to hit the space bar. Really. Look at the following sentence. See how you can’t fit “for” in there?  It’s a pretty neat trick, and it nearly always works.

  • My toddler started whining again after a while. 

 

FOR GRAMMAR GEEKS:

 
COMPOUND NOUNS are single words made from two other words smashed together. They usually have a completely different meaning than their single word counterparts, but there are exceptions (like “anytime” vs “any time” and the whole “awhile” thing I just did).
 

MERRIAM-WEBSTER DEFINITION:

 
awhile: adverb \ə-ˈhwī(-ə)l, ə-ˈwī(-ə)l\

: for a while : for a short time

Full Definition of AWHILE

:  for a while

 

Although considered a solecism by many commentators, awhile, like several other adverbs of time and place, is often used as the object of a preposition <for awhile there is a silence — Lord Dunsany>.
 
Examples of AWHILE

  1. I’m going to sit and rest awhile.
  2. The rumor had been around awhile.

 

Have a suggestion or request for an EFC Writer topic? Want to complain about something? Want more info about EFC Services?

E-mail me: everyfreechance@gmail.com with EFC Writer in the subject line.

 

melissasig

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The EFC Writer – THAT

 

Welcome to the EFC Writer — a series of quick, easily digestible writing tips based on some stuff EFC Services editor Melissa Ruiz is seriously annoyed you’re still doing.  

 

TODAY’S TOPIC: “THAT”

To put it simply, “THAT” is a decidedly non-exciting word, and you’re almost certainly misusing it.  My guess is you type it without thinking about it — likely while the rest of your brain is trying to figure out how Frankenfeld is going to find the magical crystal before the full moon or something.  You’re letting your creative mind wander along the plot line while you type, and that’s awesome.  BUT.  You, my writery friend, need to edit ‘THAT’ out.  Here’s why:

  • Bob kept telling Sally that she was pretty.
  • Bob kept telling Sally she was pretty.
  • The bathroom that I painted yesterday needs another coat.
  • The bathroom I painted yesterday needs another coat.
  • The phone that I picked out with my brother broke, so I told him that I need a new one.
  • The phone I picked out with my brother broke, so I told him I need a new one.

Which sentences do you like better?  Which ones read more cleanly?  Which ones are more precise?  If you can remove the word “that” from your sentence and it still makes sense, then I encourage you to REMOVE THE WORD “THAT.”  Seriously.  Get rid of it.  It’s filler, it’s a boring word, and there’s no mandatory word count because you’re not in high school anymore.  Plus, you’re using it incorrectly anyway.  Edit ‘THAT’ out.  Do it.  Trust me.

 

FOR GRAMMAR GEEKS:

Don’t use “that” as a conjunction or a relative pronoun (unless your sentence is a question) — it’s almost always superfluous.

 

MERRIAM-WEBSTER DEFINITION:

1that – pronoun \ˈthat, thət\

plural those 

Definition of THAT

1a :  the person, thing, or idea indicated, mentioned, or understood from the situation <that is my father>
b :  the time, action, or event specified <after that I went to bed>
c :  the kind or thing specified as follows <the purest water is that produced by distillation>
d :  one or a group of the indicated kind <thats a cat — quick and agile>
2a :  the one farther away or less immediately under observation or discussion <those are maples and these are elms>
b :  the former one
3a —used as a function word after and to indicate emphatic repetition of the idea expressed by a previous word or phrase <he was helpful, and that to an unusual degree>
b —used as a function word immediately before or after a word group consisting of a verbal auxiliary or a form of the verb be preceded by there or a personal pronoun subject to indicate emphatic repetition of the idea expressed by a previous verb or predicate noun or predicate adjective <is she capable? She is that>
4a :  the one :  the thing :  the kind :  something, anything<the truth of that which is true> <the senses are thatwhereby we experience the world> <what’s that you say>
b plural :  some persons <those who think the time has come>

all that

:  everything of the kind indicated <tact, discretion, andall that>

at that

1:  in spite of what has been said or implied
2:  in addition :

2that – conjunction \thət, ˈthat\

—used to introduce a clause that is the subject or object of a verb

—used to introduce a clause that completes or explains the meaning of a previous noun or adjective or of the pronounit

—used to introduce a clause that states a reason or purpose

Full Definition of THAT

1a (1) —used as a function word to introduce a noun clause that is usually the subject or object of a verb or a predicate nominative <said that he was afraid> (2) —used as a function word to introduce a subordinate clause that is anticipated by the expletive it occurring as subject of the verb <it is unlikely that he’ll be in> (3) —used as a function word to introduce a subordinate clause that is joined as complement to a noun or adjective <we are certain that this is true> <the fact that you are here> (4) —used as a function word to introduce a subordinate clause modifying an adverb or adverbial expression <will go anywhere that he is invited>
b —used as a function word to introduce an exclamatory clause expressing a strong emotion especially of surprise, sorrow, or indignation <that it should come to this!>
2a (1) —used as a function word to introduce a subordinate clause expressing purpose or desired result <cutting down expenses that her son might inherit an unencumbered estate — W. B. Yeats> (2) —used as a function word to introduce a subordinate clause expressing a reason or cause <rejoicethat you are lightened of a load — Robert Browning> (3) —used as a function word to introduce a subordinate clause expressing consequence, result, or effect <are of sufficient importance that they cannot be neglected — Hannah Wormington>
b —used as a function word to introduce an exclamatory clause expressing a wish <oh, that he would come>
3—used as a function word after a subordinating conjunction without modifying its meaning <if that thy bent of love be honorable — Shakespeare>

3that – adjective

—used to indicate which person, thing, or idea is being shown, pointed to, or mentioned

—used to indicate the one that is farther away or less familiar

: the other

plural those

Full Definition of THAT

1a :  being the person, thing, or idea specified, mentioned, or understood
b :  being the one specified —usually used for emphasis<that rarity among leaders> <that brother of yours>
c :  so great a :  such
2:  the farther away or less immediately under observation or discussion <this chair or that one>

4that – pronoun \thət, ˈthat\

1—used as a function word to introduce a restrictive relative clause and to serve as a substitute within that clause for the substantive modified by the clause <the house that Jack built> <I’ll make a ghost of him that lets me — Shakespeare>
2a :  at which :  in which :  on which :  by which :  with which:  to which <each year that the lectures are given>
b :  according to what :  to the extent of what —used after a negative <has never been here that I know of>
3a archaic :  that which
b obsolete :  the person who

5that – adverb \ˈthat\

: to the degree that is stated or suggested

: to the degree or extent indicated by a gesture

: to a great degree

Full Definition of THAT

1:  to such an extent <a nail about that long>
2:  very, extremely —usually used with the negative <did not take the festival that seriously — Eric Goldman>

“That.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 4 Dec. 2014. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/that>.

 

 

Have a suggestion or request for an EFC Writer topic?  Want to complain about something?  Want more info about EFC Services?

E-mail me: everyfreechance@gmail.com with EFC Writer in the subject line.

 

melissasig

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The EFC Writer – Dramatic Writing

 

Conflict + High Stakes = Good Fiction

“Three Greatest Rules of Dramatic Writing:  Conflict, conflict, conflict,” according to James. N Frey who penned How to Write a Damn Good Novel.

Safe writing is boring writing. Think about how our fictional characters compare with our everyday life. I’ve had some bummed out Christmas holidays. I don’t always get what I want. I buy gifts for ungrateful recipients. I can feel a little bah-humbug.

But even on my worst holiday downer, ghosts don’t infiltrate my bedroom in rapid succession and take me on a travel through time to illuminate where I can do better.

Maybe that’s just me.

But I doubt it. James. E Frey tells us, “If the stakes are high and both sides are unyielding, you have the makings of high drama.” Harry Potter battling Voldemort, for example. Just typing the name gives me chills. He was, after all, so villainous he, “shall not be named.”

In a beautifully written guest post earlier this month, Brook Booher wrote, “You will fall in love with them, or come to hate them, but if the characters are real enough, you cannot remain indifferent.”

So be bold. Pump up the passion. Don’t fear the drama. Basically, be anything but boring!

 

belindasig

 

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The EFC Writer: No Tears in the Writer by Brock Booher

If you’ve read any posts on this website about Brock Booher and his book Healing Stone, you probably know we’re prone to gushing over this author. (I know. We’re shameless.) So when I decided to write a this post for the EFC Writer on being bold, Mr. Booher came to mind as the perfect writer to quote in the article. He discussed the importance of writing with emotion as a guest at our book group and demonstrated his ability to do so in his first novel. In true Brock Booher form, he responded to my question with such thoroughness, I decided to ask him if I could use his response in its entirety.
Enjoy the guest post from one of our favorite writers.

belindasig

 

No Tears in the Writer

by Brock Booher

 

The great poet Robert Frost said, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” But if you have outlined your story and know the end from the beginning, how does the writing bring you to tears or surprise you?

Even though the story may be well outlined and the ending well thought out, the scene-by-scene prose in the middle is still a bit fuzzy when the story begins. However, if the characters are fully fleshed out and compelling enough, they will come to life as the story unfolds and surprise you with their actions, emotions, and decisions. You will fall in love with them, or come to hate them, but if the characters are real enough, you cannot remain indifferent. You will find your fingers flying over the keyboard as you realize what they are about to do and you want to get it on the page so you can discover it as well. You will find yourself laughing out loud and hoping that everyone else in the airplane, coffee shop, or hotel lobby doesn’t think you have completely lost it. You might find your jaw tight and your blood pressure climbing because you feel the anger in the characters. Then, when you come to the tragic scene where the dog dies, you will barely be able to see the keyboard and have to keep a box of tissue handy to keep the snot dripping out of your nose from gumming up the computer. If you want the reader to feel it, you have to feel it.

Developing a story is a lot like deep space exploration. Sometimes you start with an outline, but when the characters take shape, you must “boldly go where no one has gone before,” and follow them into the darkness in order to find the light. If you want the reader to feel emotion, you must be willing to feel it yourself.

One of the most tender scenes for me in Healing Stone was the scene from Chapter Six when Stone heals Hazel Owens from polio. I set up the scene but didn’t really know how it was going to play out. When I started writing it, I could feel the anxiety, the hope, the sadness, and the joy. I cried when I wrote it, and consequently, several readers have told me they cried when they read it.

Maybe Robert Frost was right.

brock booherAbout the author: Brock Booher grew up on a farm in rural Kentucky, the fourth of ten children, where he learned to work hard, use his imagination, and believe in himself. He left the farm to pursue the friendly skies as a pilot, and currently flies for a major US carrier. A dedicated husband and father of six children, he began writing out of sheer arrogance, but the writing craft quickly humbled him. During that process, he discovered that he enjoyed writing because it is an endeavor that can never quite be mastered. He still gladly struggles everyday to improve his writing and storytelling skills.

Find Mr. Booher here: Facebook, Twitter, web, blogGoodreads

healing stoneHealing Stone
written by Brock Booher
published by Cedar Fort Publishing & Media

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

See Belinda’s 5-star review here.

About the book – from Goodreads: Abandoned in a graveyard and a mother who was never found–that’s all Stone Molony knows about his birth. But now he needs to know more. A tragic accident has awakened a powerful gift inside him that changes everything. As the town stirs up around him, Stone journeys through corruption, racism, and violence to uncover the truth about his past.

 

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The EFC Writer – Let’s Get You Published

A technological explosion not seen since the invention of the printing press provides writers with more opportunities to get their story in front of readers faster than ever before.

I interviewed two recently published authors:  Lyssa Layne, who self-published Love is a Fire, and Susan Sofayov, who wrote Defective and published through Blue Opal Publishing. What’s their key to success?

Both writers point to the three most important considerations for writers before sending a manuscript to a publisher or uploading on your own:

  1. Edit
  2. Edit
  3. You guessed it, edit.

Layne says, “Don’t try to proofread on your own, get as many sets of eyes on your work as possible.”

And don’t get your mom or best friend to read it. Consider hiring a professional editor. They’re trained to point out every typo, lost plot line, and even pick apart what names you choose for your favorite characters. If you can survive that kind of scrutiny, you’re ready to send it out.

Sofayov drives this point home, saying, “Critique partners/groups are paramount to success.”

Another suggestion from our authors is to have a marketing plan in place before the book comes out. Sofayov wishes she, “. . . would have been more aggressive two to three months in advance, creating my own marketing plan . . . Like any other product, books do not sell themselves.”

Blogging and submitting to short story contests are good ways to gain experience, build a fan base, and win serious bragging rights before you hit send on that final manuscript.

After the title is released, blog tours, reviews, and mini-workshops can put your book in front of a potential audience.

Got a story sitting on your computer? Let’s get it out there. It sounds simple, but don’t be fooled. Publishing a book is a lot of hard work that usually requires a team of professionals to edit, build a fan base, and market your product.

We want to hear from you.

Are you hoping to get published? What’s your plan to get your story in front of readers?

Already published? What tips do you have for your unpublished writer friends?

belindasig

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