Writers: A Room of Our Own

by Polly Whitney

Home Forums Help Desk Introduction to "Help Desk"

This topic contains 9 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Polly Whitney 2 years, 5 months ago.

  • Author
    Posts
  • #122

    Polly Whitney
    Moderator

    Whatever help you need, we’ll try to supply it. Of course, we’ll flub a few, but we’ve got a firm grasp on grammar (this is HUGE for all writers), on editing the manuscript, on the art of paragraphing, on what to expect when you’re doing a reading/signing, on public speaking. Try us. Very few questions would be too bizarre for us. There’s so much META-stuff when you’re a writer.

  • #236

    Polly Whitney
    Moderator

    Okay, then, explain to me why writers do stuff like this: “Everything’s going to be okay,” she soothed.
    That stops me whenever I see it. And it’s not working in service of your ideas to stop readers in their tracks. “Soothe” is a transitive verb and must be followed by a direct object. In other words, something or someone must be soothed. Like this: “Everything’s going to be okay,” she soothed the child [in the same, warm tones her own mother had applied like magic medicine for every scraped knee or ghost under the bed].
    Or, “Never lean over the horse’s neck when you’re jumping,” she instructed.
    Instructed is also a transitive verb, requiring a direct object. Whom did she instruct?
    Are we losing the crush we should all have on our handsome grammar?

  • #237

    medill
    Participant

    Seems awfully nitpick, he reacted.

  • #238

    medill
    Participant

    nitpicky

  • #239

    Polly Whitney
    Moderator

    I don’t think rooting for proper sentence structure is nitpicky. Especially when the question involves something so basic as subject/verb/direct object.
    Here’s one way I know: ANNA KARENINA does not have a single error in grammar.
    Nor does EMPIRE FALLS, except in dialogue where errors in every day speech are common and appropriate.
    That rule is SOMETIMES IN SPEECH; NEVER IN WRITING.
    But, really, even in daily speech, who says “I’ll be down in a moment to soothe”?

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by  Polly Whitney.
    • #317

      davidsmith
      Participant

      Russo is wonderful. His novels read themselves. I met him once and asked him how he did it. He said he came from a family of bullshitters. Too glib. Sigh.

  • #322

    Polly Whitney
    Moderator

    You’re right: Russo owed you a better answer. Something like, in his case, “If it looks effortless, then my great efforts have paid off.”

  • #454

    Polly Whitney
    Moderator

    What’s the deal anyway with Russo? I think he owes us another novel. No more memoirs.

  • #490

    davidsmith
    Participant

    I didn’t read the memoir, which dates way back to 2012. Bad?

    Perhaps he wrote everything he had to write and didn’t want to start repeating himself.

  • #516

    Polly Whitney
    Moderator

    David: Your post must have arrived during the great LOST period of this website. I’m so sorry to be replying so tardily.

    Yes, Russo’s memoir is bad. It’s based on the premise that readers by now are fascinated by him and must therefore be hungering for details.

    But, I do like your idea about having run out of things to say. You’re one smart cookie.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 5 months ago by  Polly Whitney.

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.