1. Brandon_Trotter
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    Brandon_Trotter Senior Member

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    The Probelms I have

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Brandon_Trotter, Jul 4, 2010.

    I need some help in my writing and I would like some help. I am having trouble with a couple of what I think are pretty easy things, but I just cant seem to get them.

    First of all the semi-colon and colon where to use them, how to use them, when to use them?

    Second does the comma come before or after but? can you do both to emphasize something and if so where would it be best do use them both?

    Third Comma's how to use them effectively to separate sentences, do they come before or after and, and when do you know the a sentence should not be stopped with a comma but with a period ( eliminating run on sentences ) ?

    Fourth how do you know when to write a story in past or present tense? is there some indicator? And is their a good way to prevent switching between them when writing?

    And finally, something that has been bugging me for a long time ( at least since Stolen Art ) when do you know your using to much metaphors and similes ? ... If you don't know what I am talking about there take a quick look here http://writingforums.org/showthread.php?t=31332 and I think you will understand what I am asking.

    Thank you in advance for your help.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Most experienced writers can go an entire novel without using either a semicolon or a colon. They do have uses, bit most new writers overuse then.

    A semicolon can be used between two independent clauses; the two sentences are more tightly related than if separated by a full stop, less tightly coupled than if joined by a comma and a conjunction. As such, it is a wishy-washy compromise between the two. Have the cojones to commit to eithee the full stop of te full join.

    Semicolons can also be used to separate items in a list, especially if the items are themselves complex or contain commas. But if your sentences in fiction are that complex, you should simplify.

    Colons are used to introduce a list, or to separate the parts of a conpound title, e.g. Star Wars: A New Hope. These don't often appear in fiction.
    But is ordinarily used as a conjunction, and so the structure is <clause1>, <conjunction> <clause2>. For example, Andrew drove to Vegas, but Sylvia chartered a plane.
     
  3. Fantasy of You
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    Fantasy of You Banned

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    Most experienced writers can go an entire novel without using either a semicolon or a colon.

    I don't agree with this; it implies some sort of accomplishment or skill at not using the semicolon. I definitely agree that it is overused by writers (new and old!), to the point I've often wondered if such a misunderstood mark of punctuation should even exist, but used correctly the semicolon is an indispensable tool with which one can create perfect fluidity. They are also indispensable in non-fiction.

    Colons are anally-retentive, no pun intended. They are hideous, unnecessary monstrosities.

    - Andy
     
  4. zaffy
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    zaffy Contributing Member

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    Cogito wrote-
    : ; most new writers overuse them.

    I used to - because Word accepts them more readily.

    Andy, I read your comments including the one below.

    Colons are anally-retentive, no pun intended. They are hideous, unnecessary monstrosities.

    Then I nipped across to read The Writer's Wife and saw this line.

    Mark played his favourite record: ‘Not yet, I’m not done.’ He fussed with his soup.

    The colon jumped out at me and bit me on the ****

    Stolen Art reads like a poem. Metaphors and similies are what poetry is made from.

    In fiction they are acceptable but not in quantity.
     
  5. Brandon_Trotter
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    Brandon_Trotter Senior Member

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    Thank you everyone for your quick replays.

    I am afraid I do not quite understand why Fantasy of You hates colons so much or semicolons for that mater, could you please explain why it is you dislike them so much?
     
  6. Fantasy of You
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    Fantasy of You Banned

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    As I said, I think semi-colons are very useful and that colons are horrible & unnecessary. To answer zaffy, I think most adjectives are monstrously pointless too, but I'm still human & will sometimes be overly cautious to ensure the reader understands me, even if I'm almost 100% I don't need to be!
     
  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Fantasy of You - you use a lot of adjectives in "The Writer's Wife." Mostly to good effect, in my view. I think it would be hard to write an engaging piece without them.

    Adverbs, on the other hand, tend to weaken writing.
     
  8. Fantasy of You
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    Fantasy of You Banned

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    Glad you caught that typo, wouldn't want anyone thinking I favoured adverbs over adjectives! Though I'd like to think I use the latter sparsely.
     
  9. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I assumed that was what you meant. Thought I'd have a little fun with it :)

    I agree, adverbs can almost always be replaced with something better.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Adverbs and adjectives both have their place. That is why they exist. Both can be, and often are, overused.

    Adverbs are the worse culprit. For one thing, many are -ly forms, and are as as obvious as a boil on the tip of a nose when overused. The most common use of an adverb is to modify a verb. Instead, select your verb more carefully.

    Adjectives don't follow as obvious a naming pattern, so they don't stick oit as much. Your choice of noun is generally more tightly constrained than your verb choice, so adjectives are more frequently needed to modify them.

    But in any case, don't overmodify! It's hardly necessary to say Tom hurried quickly. Many new writers beat the descriptions and actions to a pulp with excess and redundant modifiers. If it's cold out, show it by one or two characters shivering or huddling close to a heat source. Don't pound the reader with cold, icy, frigid, chill frosty numbing... Respect the reader - the reader isn't an idiot.

    Less it truly more.
     

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