Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Another Interesting Quote

I have found a really neat quote by Benjamin Franklin which relates perfectly to all types of writing (though I think he only intended it to refer to scholarly essays and such). I found it in some assigned reading that I have to do for my position as a writing tutor. This is found under the chapter about Cohesion and Coherence. (Note: Capitalization his not mine. They wrote like that for some reason.)

If he would inform, he must advance regularly from Things known to things unknown, distinctly without Confusion, and the lower he begins the better. It is a common Fault in Writers, to allow their Readers too much knowledge: They begin with that which should be in the Middle, and skipping backwards and forwards, 'tis impossible for any one but he who is perfect in the Subject before, to understand their Work, and such an one has no Occasion to read it.

This is very applicable to writing. You do have to start with things that are common or shared knowledge before you proceed onto things unknown to the reader. We mustn't confuse our readers, but rather make it clear and logical.

Also, to update my writing progress, I'm almost done with the 1st draft of my big 1 Act play for my Playwriting class. It's going to be a total of 6 scenes. I just hope it's short enough for her, because I'll probabaly have to add in more.

On an aside note, NaNo is 3 days away! (And it also snowed more this morning and some of it stuck, but now it's melted. Oh well.)

Until next time!

Monday, October 27, 2008

First Snow of the Season!

The title says it all today! We just had our first snow of the season today. It quite amazed us that it came this early. It's not even November yet! Alas, it will not stick (to the ground at least) because the ground is not cold enough. However, there should still be some left over on cars tomorrow morning. I have a secret wish that they will cancel classes tomorrow morning, which they do sometimes, though it would not affect me because my first class is at 12:30 pm. Ah well, at least I got to dance in the snow and sleet today and it was fun and cold! I'll have to retrieve a picture from my friend of our capers outside the dorm, because I have no camera and therefore no picture of this glorious event.

On another note, NaNo is only 4 days away! Yay! I am very excited.

Until next time!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

It's Update Time Again!

As I haven't written in a week it is most certainly time for another update. I have things that are new. First off, you know that short story I was writing based on Erlkonig by Goethe? Well the first draft it finished! I haven't had time to go back and edit it, but I'm sure the finished length will be well under 1,000 words (typical of my fantasy shorts).

Second of all, after much deliberation and searching I have come up with a name for Book 2 in the Lywn: A Space Trader's Daughter Series. It is...Kaja Colony Crisis. Yes I know, I purposely put the alliteration in there, this time at least. It's so it matches Book 1 - Adventure at Anwar. Again, alliteration of initial sound. It's just a little less noticable when it's a vowel than a hard consonant (like a 'k' sound). I'm very glad that is settled and out of the way because it was really bugging me.

That's it for this update. The only thing left to say is...6 MORE DAYS TILL NANOWRIMO! Ah, now that I've got that off my chest I can end this. (I can't wait for NaNo to start, can you tell?)

Until next time!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Writing Sprints

So, yesterday I was browsing the NaNoWriMo forums and came across a thread titled "Ultimate Word War - 5 Hours, 10,000 Words, No Turning Back!". I scanned it and it was very interesting. The whole idea is to write for 5 hours straight and to reach 10,000 words in that time. So last night I decided to try it. I started at 9:10 pm and made it a total of 4 hours till 1:10 am. In that time I wrote 5,000 words, distracted as I was by tiredness and a hungry stomach. I am really happy with myself though, because this will certainly facilitate my making it to 50k and crossing the finish line. And this gives me hope that I'll get Adventure at Anwar done by Oct. 31st. I shall try to practice this 4-5 hour sprint twice a week up until and during NaNo. Wish me luck!

Until next time!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New Short Story

Today I decided to add yet another burden to my already heavy writing burden. A week or two ago we listened to a song by Robert Schumann in Music History. His song Erlkonig is based on the poem of the same name by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Here's an English translation of it along with the original German text so you know what I'm basing my story on.

Erlkönig von J.W. Goethe Translation by Hyde Flippo

Wer reitet so spät durch Nacht und Wind? Who rides so late through the night and wind?

Es ist der Vater mit seinem Kind; It's the father with his child;

Er hat den Knaben wohl in dem Arm, He has the boy safe in his arm,

Er faßt ihn sicher, er hält ihn warm. He holds him secure, he holds him warm.

«Mein Sohn, was birgst du so bang dein Gesicht?» “My son, what makes you hide your face in fear?”

Siehst, Vater, du den Erlkönig nicht? Father, don't you see the Erlking?

Den Erlenkönig mit Kron und Schweif? The Erlking with crown and flowing robe?

«Mein Sohn, es ist ein Nebelstreif.» – “My son, it's a wisp of fog.” –

«Du liebes Kind, komm, geh mit mir! “You dear child, come along with me!

Gar schöne Spiele spiel' ich mit dir; Such lovely games I'll play with you;

Manch bunte Blumen sind an dem Strand, Many colorful flowers are at the shore,

Meine Mutter hat manch gülden Gewand.» My mother has many a golden garment.”

Mein Vater, mein Vater, und hörest du nicht, My father, my father, and do you not hear Was Erlenkönig mir leise verspricht? – What the Erlking promises me so softly? –

«Sei ruhig, bleibe ruhig, mein Kind; “Be quiet, stay quiet, my child;

In dürren Blättern säuselt der Wind.» – In the dry leaves the wind is rustling.”

«Willst, feiner Knabe, du mit mir gehn? “Won't you come along with me, my fine boy?

Meine Töchter sollen dich warten schön; My daughters shall attend to you so nicely.

Meine Töchter führen den nächtlichen Reihn, My daughters do their nightly dance,

Und wiegen und tanzen und singen dich ein.» And they'll rock you and dance you and sing you to sleep.”

Mein Vater, mein Vater, und siehst du nicht dort My father, my father, and do you not see over there

Erlkönigs Töchter am düstern Ort? – Erlking's daughters in that dark place?

«Mein Sohn, mein Sohn, ich seh es genau: “My son, my son, I see it most definitely”:

«Es scheinen die alten Weiden so grau.» It's the willow trees looking so grey.”

«Ich liebe dich, mich reizt deine schöne Gestalt; “I love you; I'm charmed by your beautiful form;

Und bist du nicht willig, so brauch ich Gewalt.» And if you're not willing, then I'll use force.”

Mein Vater, mein Vater, jetzt faßt er mich an! My father, my father, now he's grabbing hold of me!

Erlkönig hat mir ein Leids getan! – Erlking has done me harm! –

Dem Vater grausets, er reitet geschwind, The father shudders, he rides swiftly,

Er hält in Armen das ächzende Kind, He holds in (his) arms the moaning child.

Erreicht den Hof mit Mühe und Not; He reaches the farmhouse with effort and urgency.

In seinen Armen das Kind war tot. In his arms the child was dead.

Isn't this quite a creepy poem? And it is just begging me to turn it into a short story, so I started that tonight during Instrument Seminar. I'll definitely be trying to get it published if I can. And there's a few contests that I could send it in to as well. Now I just need to finish writing it before November or it'll never get done!

The first NaNoWriMo meeting in my area is this Saturday. It's a novel planning party so we'll plan our novels and socialize. I hope that I can get a ride to it or else I can't go.

Until next time!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fundraising for NaNoWriMo

I've got a quick announcement to make. I'm trying to raise money for NaNoWriMo this year. I don't have any money to donate this year so I'm trying to get other people to donate through my fundraising page on firstgiving.com. If you look to the right of this post, you'll see a widget specifically linked my donation page. My goal is to raise $250 for NaNo this year. You see, The Office of Light and Letters (which runs NaNo) is a non profit and relies solely on donations to pay the expenses for the year, so they need people to contribute to keep the lights on. I'd like to help in some way, and this is the only way that I see to do it. So please donate through my page! And forward my page onto those who you think would give a little money to help.

Until next time!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Just another update

My internet didn't behave for me last night when I was updating the blog (in other words it didn't work at all) so I completely forgot to upload my new profile picture. This one is very recent as it was taken this summer. Yes it is edited slightly but the mainly it was edited to darken the background (which didn't look the greatest). So that's it for today's post. Wow, two posts in one day, only the second time that I've done that.

Until next time!

A New Design and Some Thoughts on Grammar

And here it is! The new NaNo themed design is up and viewable to all! What do you think? I'm particularly fond of the banner. The picture I used to make it is gorgeous. Alright, now that I've stopped gushing over the new design for the blog, it's time for two other things to be discussed. 1) update on letter game and 2) a discussion on grammar (that is actually a paper I had to do for Wednesday).

First, the letter game update. I have now received letter #2 from my friend (I received it on Monday) and I am in the process now of writing letter #3. I have only one paragraph done at the moment, but I should be able to finish it very soon.

Secondly, the discussion of grammar and here it is!

Grammar: Correctness vs. Clarity

I shall start off this discussion with the two quotes that I liked the most from the chapter: “God does not much mind bad grammar, but He does not take any particular pleasure in it”—Erasmus, and “English usage is sometimes more than mere taste, judgment, and education—sometimes it’s sheer luck, like getting across the street.”—E. B. White. It is the latter quote that pertains more to what struck me as interesting. Rules don’t do much to explain grammar and how it’s used. Sometimes it is sheer luck that you hit upon a grammatical combination that does make sense and sounds correct. Here we run into another issue: correctness vs. clarity.

To what point should correctness (according to grammar rules) be held over clarity? Firstly, what does being “correct” entail for careful writers? Should we follow every rule to the letter? Or should we throw all of that out the window because grammar rules just can’t apply to us? I propose that neither position is entirely correct. On the one hand, you have stilted and formal, but grammatically correct, writing. On the other, you have a confused mess which no one but yourself can understand. Here is where clarity comes in. We must be able to read what you have written (which means you have to follow some rules) but we need to be able to relate to the content and the manner in which it is written (so there’s no reason to follow all the nonsense rules of grammar).

Clarity must be the ultimate, defining standard that shapes our writing. It determines how much and how little “proper” grammar is needed and when and where it should be used. If we cannot understand what a writer is saying then can we care about their grammar? Correctness and clarity work hand in hand to make a piece of writing presentable. We cannot have one without the other. Correctness without clarity is difficult to understand and relate to. And one cannot imagine how one can have clarity without some correctness (grammar) involved in the process.

It is my opinion that clarity should weigh more heavily in the balance than correct grammar. Sometimes it is necessary for some of the less sensible rules to be ignored, especially when they serve only to ‘be correct’ and to muddy the meaning of the writing. Yes grammar rules are there for a reason and if we do not follow the most important of them then we risk looking uneducated and muddying our meaning. Yet some rules just exist for those nitpicks out there who just can’t stop picking a writer’s grammar apart, however good they may be. Grammar rules should exist only to promote clarity, not to annoy writers and cause them hardship. If applied correctly, “correctness” and clarity should enable writers to convey their ideas in a readable format.

Until next time!
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