The Craft of Writing

Grammar for Gremlins: How to Punctuate a Conversation, Part One

June 17, 2017

Punctuate Dialogue

Remember when I said your grammar is only wrong if you can’t pull it off?

I stand by that.

But the way some people punctuate dialogue drives me up the fucking wall.

I’m not talking about my clients or anyone else who reads this blog, by the way. You’re all beautiful angels who can do no wrong.

But there are a terrifying number of fiction editors who force their authors to punctuate dialogue all wrong.

And the worst part is it isn’t even their fault.

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Writing Tips

100+ Unique Conflicts for Gay Characters

June 10, 2017

Conflicts for Gay Characters

Having trouble coming up with conflicts for gay characters in your story?

There is a depressing shortage of fiction about gay characters that is:

  • Well written
  • Well edited
  • Not homophobic
  • Not about coming out
  • To quote Tori Curtis, not “about getting hate crimed”

Many of these stories are actively harmful—not just to gay people, but to everyone who reads them.

The rest just aren’t very original. Yes, it’s fine to read about a gay kid coming out of the closet. But after the 100th coming-out story, it’d be cool to read about a gay kid fighting dragons or falling in love or doing literally anything else.

If you’re writing a story that includes a gay character, consider one of the conflicts below instead of having them struggle with self-hatred, hide their identity, commit suicide, or get murdered or disowned by their family.

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The Craft of Writing

Grammar for Gremlins: The Only Rule Novelists Need

May 27, 2017

The only grammar rule novelists need to know: It's only wrong if you can't pull it off.

My brother-in-law Nick likes to pick arguments with me.

We spent last Christmas at his house. While I was half asleep by the fire, he asked, “What’s your opinion on the Oxford comma?”

“I don’t have one.” (This was not as clever an evasion as I thought it was.)

“Well, you should.”

In Nick’s defense, that’s just how he shows affection. He’s a lawyer.

In my defense, novelists have greater grammatical leeway than his corporate clients.

Grammar still matters in a science-fiction novel. But readers who will tear you apart for misusing technical terminology won’t even notice a misplaced punctuation mark every 40 pages or so.

Hell, if you consistently misplace that punctuation mark, they’ll probably just assume it’s artistic license, or whatever.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say the only grammar rule genre novelists need to know is this:

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