Blog Entries
Grammar Wars – or, Socio-Political Impact on Sentence Structure
Category: Writing

Why does current ‘literary’ style dictate the slaughtering of adjectives, the press-ganging of nouns into slavery as verbs, and the Procrustean truncation of sentences to a maximum of two lines? Why are we meant to eschew lavish application of flourishes and go straight for the ‘punchy’ sentence, until the surface of the text is stretched out to a bronzed, quivering patina?

Let me suggest: it has more to do with current Western politics than with any intrinsic literary merit.

We like to think that the perfect society is harmoniously balanced in an almost organic unison of controlled precision which allows within its fertile parameters a flowering of imagination and individuality of miraculous scope. Well… by ‘we’ I mean some sort of nebulous Capitalist idealism. Most importantly, this idealism has to at least seem ‘genuine’. It must appear to be accessible to the voting masses. It must present an honest, hardworking (yet pulled-up-by-the-bootstraps-till-glamorous) front – dependable, solid, and above all supposedly easy to understand.

It’s by no means the same everywhere. In Eastern Bloc countries the ability to keep hold of the reins of a two-page sentence without misplacing a subject or a verb can be considered the height of good breeding and education. The message of the sentence itself is of little importance in comparison. (Translations into English tend to fare badly.) In Japanese: allusion, implication and tweezer-precise application of vocabulary tower over sentence structure and grammar. In the Middle East: rhythm, harmony of sound, and an exuberant demonstration of textual erudition carry the day.

These are of course gross over-simplifications.

But next time you agonise over the last adverb or that sub-clause you simply can’t bear to annihilate, consider. What are you really saying with your sentence structure?


This Week on WA
Category: Site News
Tags: this week writers abroad monday muses blog

Hot, Hot, Hot! The Italians are saying the hottest July for 70 years! My brain is a puddle... so apologies in advance if this is more garbled than usual...

Crilly has provided us with some great motivation to get writing (whatever the weather) in the Monday Muses. As well as some written ideas, there are some great images. Love the B&W one of the couple...

Nicola has penned the Blog - on the reasons for having a pen name. Do you use a pen name and how did you choose it?

Dianne and Sally have both posted their submissions for Kaleidoscope in the July Writing Challenge. Have you done yours yet?? No pressure, honest. 

And have you voted on your favourite 'eye' for the cover of the Anthology yet? If not pop over, Vesna's been working hard on producing a few choices.

I don't think there are any new Brags this week, but Angela has provided a link to the NFFD Anthology in which a few members feature.

We have a formal Chat this coming Sunday. An agenda will follow and Crilly is in the chair. I send my apologies. Cleaning duty calls...

Have a good writing week! 




A Rose by any other Name...
Category: Writing

Just how important is a name? I’ve been thinking about pen names a lot lately, and whether I need another one, so I thought I’d chat about it a little today.

It’s a decision every author needs to make: to use their own name or to make one up. To stick to one, or have a whole load of pen names for the different things they write.

I’d known all along I wanted to use a pen name. But as with most things, I left deciding on the actual name right up until the last minute, and ended up frantically searching the internet.

There are a lot of names out there. I was drowning in names. In the end, purely to narrow my search, I decided to stick to the same initials. Then I dived in, picked a name, and was amazed to find it already existed on Amazon. And the next and the next. I finally came up with Nina Croft, short and sweet, with the added bonus that the domain name was still up for grabs. And so Nina was born.

My reason for using a pen name was quite simple—I just didn’t think my real name sounded very authorly. But there are a lot of very good reasons for using a pseudonym.

One is a desire to keep your life as a writer separate from real life for whatever reasons. Maybe you don’t want your mother, daughter, boss, local church group… to know that you write really racy stories.

Another good reason is if you write across a number of genres and you want to keep them separate and not mislead your readers. Say Nora Roberts and JD Robb. This is particularly important if they are very disparate, say erotica and children’s stories.

Or to appeal to your particular audience. There are numerous male romance writers out there, and I’m betting the majority of them use a female pen name. From my experience women writers tend to go for being gender neutral rather than changing gender. For example JK Rowling (who believed boys might not want to read a book about a wizard written by a woman.) I’ve been considering writing something a little different for Nano this year, basically science fiction but without the romance. And I’m thinking of using NJ Croft (my middle name is Jane) to appeal to a wider audience but also to be familiar enough to tempt my romance readers to try something different.

And finally, how about to become somebody new…just because. Recently a member of another writing group posted that they were going to reinvent themselves. New name, new genre, leave the old self behind. And I thought how fabulous that we can become someone new. Sadly, I didn’t really do that with Nina Croft. She’s just Nicola Cleasby under another name. But maybe NJ Croft can be an astronaut or something wildly exciting.

So do you/will you use a pen name? If so, how did you come up with it and what are you hiding?


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Monday, July 20, 2015
This Week on WA
Recent Blog Posts
Grammar Wars – or, Socio-Political Impact on Sentence Structure
Posted by Vesna

Why does current ‘literary’ style dictate the slaughtering of adjectives, the press-ganging of nouns into slavery as verbs, and the Procrustean truncation of sentences to...Read More

A Rose by any other Name...
Posted by Nicola

Just how important is a name? I’ve been thinking about pen names a lot lately, and whether I need another one, so I thought I’d...Read More

Passive Protagonist Syndrome
Posted by Jill Brown

Passive Protagonist Syndrome

I’ve just come across PPS. Worse still, I’ve got it! Or at least some of the characters in my stories do....Read More

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