You betcha! Just as important as any other grammatical rules we writers live by.
Varying your punctuation can add that little touch of attractiveness to each sentence, each paragraph that sticking to the tried-and-true commas and periods with the occasional query or exclamation mark cannot, by themselves, add.
As an example, here’s a segment from one of my stories, with nothing other than commas and periods:
‘Before Antonia’s terrified eyes, the huge, spade-like head darted forward, a black blur moving so fast, Victor didn’t stand a chance. The jaws opened then snapped shut again, around his torso, and as the weight came off his broken leg and the bones straightened out, he screamed.
He kept on screaming as the monstrous jaws lifted him up into the air, held him with his legs falling to one side of the mouth, the chest and head to the other. Victor’s screams did not stop until he disappeared completely inside the cavernous mouth.
Elery turned away, sickened by the sight, and vomited over the edge of the rock lip on which he stood. Antonia, too, felt sick in her stomach: but she could not take her eyes off the huge, blood-red eyes of the serpent. Those eyes were now staring straight at her.’
Now let’s look at the same segment again (from ‘Anhanga – Beast from the Underwor
Is it possible to defame someone who is no longer with the living? Can you, for example, take an historical figure, such as Winston Churchill, and write untrue things about him without fearing the arrival of a lawyer’s letter or phone-call?
In Australia, you can. Technically, it is not possible to defame a dead person…an example of this would be the movie ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’…an American movie, I know, but let’s use it as an example and pretend, just for a moment, that it was made in Australia, my home country.
You can not defame Abraham Lincoln as such, because his history is already widely-known, and we all know he never had anything to do with the ‘creatures of the night’.
Where you need to be careful is in making a statement that carries over to have an affect on his living descendants…say, if you stated that he hunted vampires, ‘and this was to have ramifications on his descendants for generations to come’. In such an instance, it is possible you have defamed his descendants, and they would enjoy nothing more than suing you over the matter. But if the deed of which you falsely accused him was applied strictly to the deceased person, whoever he or she may be, under Australian law, you should be safe.
You may find this also applies in your own country, but just to be certain, I’d contact a lawyer and ask him…or her. And don’t forget, we all have a secondary source of advice as regards the defamation laws relevant in your country: the average journalist studies Journalism Law as part of their course to become a member of the fourth estate, which means specifically the laws surrounding defamation, libel, and slander. An experienced journalist can give you a good guide as to whether what you are about to write may or may not get you into hot water…someone who has been practicing their trade for ten years or more, or perhaps even the Chief of Staff of a large newspaper. If they’re in any doubt, they will advise you to ask a lawyer.
While it has nothing whatsoever to do with history, I like setting my novels in a specific time-period and using (occasionally) actual figures from history to give the work a more authentic feel.
This one tells the story of a fictitious Colonel, Armand de Surian, who – in addition to being Napoleon’s Morale Officer – is a psychopath…a vicious, bloodthirsty killer of the first order.
Discovering a small group of young children hidden in the crypt beneath the Great Church of St John Chrysostomou, he sets about murdering the four female children – he only likes killing females – and then intends turning his attention to the wives, female servants and other civilians who always accompanied armies into battle in those days.
But his deeds are discovered, accidentally, and a band of soldiers set about rescuing the remaining children and, if possible, returning them to the Russian forces before de Surian can complete his ‘fun’ tasks.
It’s out on Amazon.com, and as a freebie, from July 27-31 (US time). The code is http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E254DWU
I had a heap of fun writing this one…and no, I’m most certainly not a ‘closet-killer,’ waiting for the right circumstances to turn my books into reality…unless it’s on the Big Screen or perhaps the Little Screen (TeeVee).
Hope you like it, and as usual, if you don’t, let me know why, and I shall try to avoid the same mistakes in future, guys.
A paragraph can be as long as four or five sentences or as short as one word.
Yup, it’s possible to write a paragraph that consists of one word, as in:
Why not? it makes sense; it’s complete in itself. And it has the added advantage of making the paragraph stand out.
One thing we should never do is aim for all our paragraphs to be of equal length. It makes our writing appear boring to the reader, just as if we wrote a musical score consisting of one note.
Try to vary the lengths of your paragraphs; together with all the other tips I’ve given, it’s important, as all these little pointers are not from what I like to see, but what I know, from experience, works with editors – and they’re the people you have to please in order for your work to be published. if they don’t like you work when you submit it, you won’t see it reach that stage when you can say: “Hey! my work is being published!”
I guess this question has been asked by every parent, down through Time itself. “Just what ARE we leaving our children in the way of a world?” I hesitated for weeks over writing this blog, but decided, in the end, someone had to say something – and it might as well be me.
We’re leaving our children a world in far poorer shape than when our parents left it to us. My father handed over a world in which a World War had just been fought, and peace, for a time, was my inheritance…until situations such as Korea and Vietnam came along.
But today, we are passing on into the hands of our children a world torn apart by anger, hostility, rage, an ever-mounting international debt, and an environment unable to cope with what past and present generations have done to it.
Syria is at war with itself, and thousands have already died with no end in sight; Egypt is in the grip of civil unrest, which could easily escalate into a full-scale internal war; the people of Bahrein are no longer able to tolerate the conditions under which they have lived for generations; and the continent of Africa suffers under governments which are driven by corruption and greed, resulting in millions starving to death, people fleeing the lands they’ve lived in for so long, and children growing up without their parents.
Brazil, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, and now Croatia, it appears, have had to seek millions of dollars’-worth of ‘bail-out’ funds – funds no country has a hope of repaying.
And America, that once-wealthy nation, reels beneath the pressure of a national debt above one hundred trillion dollars.
The world’s finances are going bankrupt; if we continue in this fashion, the only logical outcome is for those monstrous debts – or ‘bail-out’ funds, whichever you like to call them – will have to be excused, written off, as if they never existed. What effect, for example, will this have on international monetary institutions and the manufacturers who’ve supplied the goods sent to these countries in order to bail them out? Who will pay for the millions upon millions of dollars’-worth of food, water, blankets, and other items sent to nations such as Africa, which is literally starving to death? Who will pay for them when our world’s finances are approaching a stage where a dollar will be no more than a piece of paper, with no monetary value to support it? Can we turn our backs on places such as Africa? No! definitely not! We have to assist in every way we can. But the problem still remains, because the world, with a population of some seven billion, can no longer grow enough food to support its population. There simply isn’t room on the planet to support the meat-animals and crops needed to feed so many.
Then there’s the environment, blasted by years and years of unloading our industrial waste, in the form of smoke from factory chimneys, car exhausts, and even people smoking. We are already seeing the effects of Climate Change: countries suffering floods they’ve never seen before, or fires, such as in the United States, and on top of that our oceans are fast running out of the food we’ve eaten for so long – fish and other marine life we’ve dragged in our nets and on our lines from their watery homes to take their places – on our plates.
My generation is lucky, in a way: we won’t live long enough to see the ultimate effects of all we’ve done to bankrupt and kill off our world; we’ll be dead and buried when the final curtain comes down.
But what have we done? What have we left to pass on to our children?
How do we apologise for passing on a planet close to its limit, financially and environmentally?
In this case, “Sorry” just isn’t enough.
We too often take the hard work of the cover designer for granted, seeing it as not much more than a coat of paint on a new car…but think for just one moment:
Would you buy that new car if you saw it sitting there, with no paint, showing its metallic grey colour – unpolished, the rivets visible, each weld in plain sight?
I bet you wouldn’t. You’d rather have a vehicle that positively screams ‘New’ at you, all bright and shiny, in your favourite colour, just waiting for you to get in and drive it.
Without that coat of paint – or in the case of a book, the cover – you’d not even bother to open the door or first page. Instead, you’d go to another dealership – or bookstore – and look for something that really begs you to open that door or page, and see what is inside.
There is no part of any story you will ever write that is more important than the cover. it’s the cover, after all, which attracts the potential purchaser to open that cover, see what that bright and well-designed image is hiding. It’s a talent we often dismiss, as I said earlier; but it’s a talent deserving of just as much praise as the writer’s work…if not more so.
So let’s hear it for the cover-designers out there, writers. Without them, you’d receive no royalties – and your longed-for popularity with the reading public wouldn’t even exist.
‘The Devil’s Opera’ will be my 38th publication, and revolves around a really nice and really talented composer named Olivier Luchario, son of a famed operatic star, and set in Vienna in the 1850’s.
it’s historically correct, which is something I pay attention to, and tells the story of poor Olivier and his slight problem with knives and pretty girls…and the efforts of a London detective and a retired Bobby who set out to catch him before anyone else runs foul of his blade.
Whether they’re successful or not is the McGubbin of the story, as my favourite producer Alfred Hitchcock used to call the ‘guts’ of a plot.
So…while they’re galloping around the watery city, chasing a man who sometimes seems to become a ghost, blood flows and the innocent die…and all because of a composition of Olivier’s he wrote at the age of around 5 or 6 years, which was first laughed at and then acclaimed worldwide. The only problem is he wrote a certain part of it while a real jerk was doing things to his mother no self-respecting man should ever do to anyone.
Hope you like it. If you don’t, be sure to tell me, and I promise I’ll try to do better next time.