Workshop Transcript

Know It, Don't Blow It!

with Leslie Carmichael

Go to Beginning of Workshop (Skip the fun stuff beforehand....)

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*** Topic for #Kidlit: Children's Writers & Illustrators meet here nightly - WELCOME!

* Verla: Hey, you are both really early. Came to get good seats for tonight's workshop, eh?

elsbet: yep

elsbet: only deet didn't know it was tonight

deetie: who's talking?

elsbet: haha

elsbet: me

Verla: har har har...

Verla: there's a disadvantage to arriving early for good seats, too...

elsbet: oh?

Verla: you have to help me set up the room. HA!

Verla: one of you may set up the chairs and decorate the food table, the other can make sure the podium and microphone are set up, dusted, and working and gets to hang all the balloons and crepe paper

deetie: oh, duh!!!

deetie: I don't work for free anymore.

elsbet: only if I can razz the speaker, Kia

Verla glares at deetie and els

Verla looks pointedly at the torture chamber door in the back of the chat room and glares harder

elsbet: Oooh- I'm scared

deetie: yeah, me too.

deetie: some stare, huh, els?

elsbet: yeah- wicked

elsbet: Verla- I go there for r&r

NOTE: R&R = Rest & Relaxation

elsbet: give me a few turns on the rack- it limbers me up

Verla: oh, that's right.. I forgot about that

Verla LOCKS the torture room and door and agrees to give els the key ONLY if she helps set up the chat room for the workshop tonight

elsbet: want me to get the water for the speaker? (rubbing hands evilly as she thinks of the frog in her pocket)

Verla: yes, els. But NO FROGS. Dy will NOT appreciate it.

elsbet: does that include newts?

Dystar: no frogs, please...

elsbet: ooops- she heard me, didn't she?

elsbet: ok, ok

deetie: what's the workshop on?

Dystar: grammar, spelling and punctuation, deet

deetie: ah.

*** Verla has set the topic on channel #kidlit to Know it, Don't Blow It! Children's Writing Workshop tonight...9pm EST

Dystar: Verla, should I change my nick or is there a better way to do it?

Verla: just type /nick NEW NAME HERE

Dystar: okay, I typed /nick but it didn't work

Verla: the slash has to be the first character in the line and there must be ONE space after the word nick

*** Dystar is now known as new

new: oops

elsbet: hi new!

deetie: you're new!!

*** new is now known as ^Leslie

^Leslie: there! whew!

deetie: all right, she has a name.

deetie: this is an improvement.

^Leslie: computers! sheesh

deetie: aren't they infuriating.

Verla: Hey, computers are great, Leslie... they always do exactly what you tell them to. (Even when you want them to do something else)

^Leslie: I know!

elsbet: I wish my dog would do that

Verla: I'm sure you do, leslie

Verla: (feels funny to call you by your real name)

Verla: yay! WOW! You look real pretty with clothes on, Leslie

^Leslie: dressed up for the occasion

elsbet: that was theyre- I really need this workshop tonight, Leslie!

^Leslie: I can see that, els!

elsbet crawls under the potted palm and hopes nobody looks at her and her horrible speeling punc etc

elsbet: see I can't even spell spelling!

Verla: the workshop starts in about 15 minutes

elsbet: 0oh gosh- I give up. I'm going to lurk, since I can't type tonight

^Leslie: use your fingers, instead of your nose, els

elsbet: I've been illustrating all day- when I do that I can't visualise the keyboard- it throws me into a different brain function

^Leslie: brb

NOTE: brb = Be Right Back (or sometimes, BathRoom Break - grin)

Verla: (she better brb! She's tonight's workshop leader!)

Terin: Hello, is this where the Workshop is?

Verla: yes, you found the right place, terin. Welcome!

Terin: Thanks

^Leslie: back

Verla: Okay... you about ready to start, Leslie?

Verla: Let me go get your bio...

^Leslie: yep

^Leslie: I have a new computer -- I hope it doesn't dump me in the middle of this...

_Lyra: if you're nice, we'll let you come back (g)

^Leslie: gee thanks

Verla: If it does, we will wait for you to return, Leslie. (And we'll all talk about you while you are gone, too. HA HA HA)

----------ACTUAL WORKSHOP STARTS HERE--------------

*** Verla has set the topic on channel #kidlit to Know it, Don't Blow It! Children's Writing Workshop IN PROGRESS

_Lyra: good title for a workshop

^Leslie: chas thought of it

^Leslie: let me know when to start, Verla

Verla: OKAY... here we go, folks...

Verla: for those that haven't attended one of these workshops before, we like to keep them informal and open

Verla: so we encourage you to make comments and ask questions as we go along. Just try to keep your comments to the subject currently being discussed... here's the official "rules"

Verla: Welcome to our monthly Kidlit Workshop. We ask that you hold all personal chit-chat until the hour is up, but we encourage you to join the discussion in progress of the current topic.

Verla: Our Subject tonight is Know It, Don't Blow It! (learning what you need to know about grammar, spelling & punctuation for children's stories)

Verla: and it's being led by Leslie Carmichael

Verla: Here's her bio, so you will know who is leading tonight's session:

Verla: Leslie lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with her husband, son, twin daughters and two colour co-ordinated cats. She has been writing since she was a little girl, but only seriously for the past few years. To date, her list of publication credits includes a short fiction article in a local community newsletter, a travel and costume article in Coztume,

Verla: the newsletter of the Australian Costumers' Guild, and the creation of the Costume-Con 19 Program Book. Costume-Con is an annual international conference. She also won first prize in a short story contest eons ago at a Science Fiction convention.

Verla: She is currently working on a Young Adult Science Fiction novel, and has high hopes for a completed midgrade set in Ancient Egypt, a completed YA about a zombie, and half a dozen picture books.

Verla: She is a member of the KooKoos on-line critique group, and is a library technician (although her most recent job title is "mom"). She is also a member of the Writers' Guild of Alberta (WGA), the Imaginative Fiction Writers' Association (IFWA), and the Canadian Children's Book Centre; and is a Friend of the Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators and Performers (CANSCAIP).

Verla: Leslie says, "I think I've always been interested in Science Fiction -- the title of my very first book (written -- and illustrated!-- in Grade 3) was 'Animals in the Universe'. Children's literature is where a love of reading is born. I hope to add my name to the list of those who have inspired the next generations."

Verla hands Leslie the microphone...

^Leslie: thank you

Verla: CLAP CLAP CLAP.. YAY, Leslie!

^Leslie: Okay, this being December and close to Christmas, I don't want to make this too heavy...

^Leslie: I wish I could give you some stone-hard rules about grammar, spelling and punctuation, but I can't.

Verla: no?

^Leslie: English is a mongrel -- it's compose of words taken from several different languages, which we have absorbed into our own.

^Leslie: We take a lot of our words from the Anglo-Saxon, which is originally Germanic, and also a lot from the Romance languages, French, Spanish, Italian and others.

^Leslie: Romance, by the way, doesn't mean "Romantic" in the modern sense.

Verla: no?

^Leslie: It means Roman, as in Latin.

Verla: ah....interesting

^Leslie: Many of our basic words come from the Germanic, and more complicated ones can be traced back to Latin and Greek.

Verla: (how come no one ever taught me this in English classes?)

^Leslie: As an example of the weirdness -- we take "beef" from the French, but "cow" from the Germanic.

^Leslie: Same with Pork (porc) and pig.

^Leslie: So...

^Leslie: What does this mean?

Verla: we are basically mongrels?

^Leslie: It means the spelling of English words is idiosyncratic, at best.

^Leslie: oh, yes

Verla: LOL... I think ALL of us already knew that, Leslie!

NOTE: LOL = Laughing Out Loud

^Leslie: English was originally a peasant language, spoken only by the lower classes.

Verla: really?

Verla: Wow...

^Leslie: French was the language of commerce, trade and the nobility.

^Leslie: Latin was the language of religion (still is).

Verla: (I think the French language is even worse for logical spelling than English is...)

^Leslie: We take our scientific words mostly from the Greek and if you look for the "25 cent" words, you can trace back to Latin.

^Leslie: I studied linguistics in University, so this is how I know this stuff.

Verla: you mean the big, important sounding words, Leslie?

^Leslie: yep, them

Verla: (I don't use too many of them in picture books, though....)

^Leslie: No -- although in picture books, you look for the best, simplest word -- but not necessarily the most simplistic.

Verla: right.... I put Rendevous in one of my books. :-) Definitely not simplistic

^Leslie: Okay -- spelling

^Leslie: This is why we have words in English, like Knight -- it doesn't make sense to spell it that way, but we do. Why?

^Leslie: Because it came from the Germanic knicht, which was pronounced the way you see it.

^Leslie: In English, the k and the gh are silent -- they didn't used to be.

^Leslie: And spelling used to be a matter of the imagination, too.

^Leslie: Then along came Noah Webster and set all the words (almost) in stone.

Verla: He's the culprit????

^Leslie: Among others.

Verla wonders if we should stone him....

^Leslie: Now, words trickle into English from other languages today, as well.

^Leslie: We take those words as they come -- eg, kamikaze, pizza, karate -- and pronouce them the way they came. Sometimes we Anglicize them, so that we can understand them.

^Leslie: So, anyway -- enough history.

Verla: (Please folks....feel free to stick your comments into this discussion... it's meant to be a discussion, not just a monologue. :-)

Verla: I know that there used to not be any such thing as "spelling"

Verla: you just wrote words how they sounded. Period.

Verla: (right?)

^Leslie: Well, not necessarily -- some people got quite creative, Verla.

Verla: ah...

^Leslie: Here are a few rules that, amazingly enough, do work -- most of the time.

^Leslie: You've probably heard of this one:

^Leslie: "I before E except after C"

^Leslie: (it does work)

^Leslie: But you might not have heard the second part:

^Leslie: "Except when sounded like AY as in Neighbour and Weigh"

Verla: AH HA!

^Leslie: The exception to this rule is weird.

^Leslie: I mean "Weird"

_Lyra: I like the word "weird" - use it a lot (g)

^Leslie: Now, I'm personally convinced that perfect spelling is like perfect pitch -- you've either got it or you don't.

Verla: (I don't!)

Verla: Yep. I always have to type weird twice to get it right

^Leslie: So here's my second rule --

^Leslie: If you know you are a lousy speller, look it up.

Verla: use a spell-checker?

^Leslie: Spell-checkers don't necessarily work.

^Leslie: They won't catch the difference between its and it's.

^Libby: I found that after I'd studied British literature, I started spelling differently: practise for practice; theatre for theater, etc.

Verla: yeah. I just printed up 30 pages of a book...then found I'd typed my instead of me in one sentence. Spell check, of course, didn't catch it.

^Leslie: The point to all this? Good question.

^Leslie: Well, you wouldn't want to send a manuscript out that you had dropped in the mud, right?

farrago: yes

^Leslie: Bad spelling, grammar and punctuation are like mud. They turn an editor off immediately.

Verla: they turn me off, too, leslie.

^Leslie: So it's best to send it out perfect -- the most creative, beautiful, imaginative ms. won't make it out of the slushpile

^Leslie: if it is cluttered up with technical mistakes.

farrago: my understanding is if the editor likes the story spelling and grammer be damned do you agree

Verla: I don't think so, farrago... I honestly believe that bad spelling and grammar will make it harder for an editor to feel good about a story, no matter how good the idea/writing is otherwise.

^Leslie: I had to critique a ms. once that was full of mistakes -- it was like wading through a smelly swamp to get the to story.

Verla: and it's not hard to get it "cleaned up"

Verla: Of course, with me, it might be different.. since I write historical stories, I think they really need to be especially correct with grammar etc, because the editor is likely to question your accuracy of facts, if you don't have accuracy everywhere

^Leslie: Why make it harder for an editor? Make it perfect.

^Leslie: Now -- some of you are saying, "How the heck do I look up a word to spell it, if I don't know how to spell it?"

Verla: yes, make the editor happy.... and she/he will be more likely to look favorably on your story.

^Leslie: There is a marvelous book called "The Bad Speller's Dictionary."

^Leslie: It has the words arranged in a logical, phonetic manner -- "psychology" is under "si", for example.

Verla: Oh, how cool, leslie!

Verla: I never knew that a book like that existed

^Leslie: It's my library training, Verla...

^Leslie: Next rule: it's and its.

^Leslie: These two are the most common mistake.

Verla: I know about it's and its! I finally learned how to tell the difference!

^Leslie: It's is a contraction of it is.

^Leslie: Its is a possessive pronoun like hers and his.

Verla: if you can substitute the two words "it is" in the sentence, then you use an apostrophe. If not, you do NOT.

^Leslie: You can say John's book, but you wouldn't say hi's book.

^Leslie: Apostrophes mess people up like crazy...

^Leslie: It's a shame so many people mess up its spelling...

Verla: IT IS a shame... but NOT IT IS spelling....

^Leslie: Rule, um, 4? Adding "ed" and "ing".

^Leslie: As a general rule (remember there will be exceptions, just to trip you up!)

^Leslie: If the vowel in a word is short (e.g., chat), double the last consonant before adding ed or ing.

^Leslie: If it is a long vowel (shoot), don't.

^Leslie: Next: They're, their and there.

^Leslie: Remember, all 3 of them start with THE.

^Leslie: That way you won't get thier.

^Leslie: Look for that apostrophe -- they're is a contraction of they are.

^Leslie: I'll get into more about apostrophes, later.

^Leslie: The base for all of this is, don't expect the spelling of English words to make sense. It doesn't.

^Leslie: If you're not sure, look it up -- that's the best rule.

^Leslie: Okay -- Grammar.

Verla: I really would like to know where the heck to put the period when using quotes! I was always taught to put it inside the quotes most of the time, but outside IF what you are saying in the quote shouldn't have a period after it.

Verla: before we leave punctuation... noooo.. we were on spelling, weren't we?

^Leslie: I'll get to your question later, Verla?

Verla: oops.. sorry, Leslie. I jumped the gun asking it too early

^Leslie: The Elements of Style is a marvelous little book, and in the spirit of its brevity, I'll be brief as well.

Verla: YES! THAT is the BEST book for grammar, etc, in my opinion\...

^Leslie: This little book has just about everything you ever wanted to know about Grammar (and other things) but were afraid to ask. Put it in your writing library.

Verla: It's written in English! (That a normal person can understand... and it really does show examples and answer questions

^Leslie: You've probably all heard this: you have to know the rules, before you can break them.

^Leslie: A sentence, at its most basic, is: noun verb.

^Leslie: Or: subject action.

^Leslie: Example: She wrote.

Verla: She fainted.

^Leslie: You must have these two things in a sentence for it to be considered a sentence.

Verla: :-)

^Leslie: What about "sentence fragments"?

^Leslie: Oooh, something your spell-checker hates, right?

^Leslie: But they work so well in writing.

Verla: yes, sometimes you WANT to use sentence fragments when writing. Especially in Dialogue....

^Leslie: The key is to use them sparingly.

^Leslie: A slightly more complicated sentence is noun verb noun.

^Leslie: There, you have a subject doing something to an object.

^Leslie: She wrote books.

^Leslie: He kissed her.

^Leslie: But again, you must have the basics in there.

^Leslie: You can build from there, adding neat words like prepositions, determinants, connectors, adjectives, etc.

Verla: (Okay, now you lost me, Leslie. I don't know what half those word parts are!

^Leslie: You don't have to know what these things are -- I'm not taking a test...

Verla: Whew!

^Leslie: But if you really want to know -- dictionaries have definitions, too.

^Leslie: Adverbs are those "ly" words that we are constantly warned about.

Verla: yeah, the deadly words that we are supposed to purge from our stories

^Leslie: Now for that burning grammar question I'm sure you're all dying to ask:

^Leslie: Just what the heck is a dangling participle?

^Leslie: I'll give you an example: "Living in this house, the noise is driving me buggy."

^Leslie: The problem with this sentence is that the clause doesn't connect with anything. It dangles. Gonna smack you on the head.

Verla: I don't know what's dangling, but that sounds like bad English to me

^Leslie: Check your sentences for those basic things: noun verb.

Verla: Living in the house is the clause?

^Leslie: "Living in this house is driving me buggy -- it's the noise!"

^Leslie: Without the basic noun, Verla, either one can be the clause!

Verla: isn't noise the noun?

Verla thinks she is lost...

^Leslie: I know -- it's confusing.

^Leslie: But take it down to its basics --

^Leslie: Living in this house -- is okay. The noise is driving me buggy -- is okay.

^Leslie: But nothing connects them except a comma.

Verla: but living in this house doesn't have a noun that tells who/what is living... how can it be okay?

^Leslie: Well, that's just it, Verla -- it's okay, as long as you add the noun -- by itself it's fine as a clause.

Verla: oh.. okay. I get it now. Thanks!

^Leslie: Now we might as well go into commas...

^Leslie: When I was learning in school, we were taught to use commas as much as possible. I still have a problem with them.

Verla: I think I use them too often, too

^Leslie: Commas are a pause in the sentence, not a full stop.

^Leslie: Technically, I suppose this is Punctuation now.

Verla: yay! Can I ask my question now?

^Leslie: Sure

Verla: (After you finish with commas, of course)

Verla: I tend to pause a LOT in my sentences, Leslie.

^Leslie: Use them if you are dividing things up into a list.

^Leslie: Use them if a character says, "Hey, wait for me!"

Verla: But, why, John thought, scratching his head, neck, and underarms.

^Leslie: exactly, Verla.

^Leslie: But why, John thought, scratching everywhere...

^Leslie: It gets to be a bit much when you use too many.

Verla: yes! I noticed that in my writing a lot

^Leslie: And I know I use too many -- I'm getting better, though!

^Leslie: okay, Verla -- what was your question?

Verla: I really would like to know where the heck to put the period when using quotes! I was always taught to put it inside the quotes most of the time, but outside IF what you are saying in the quote shouldn't have a period after it.

Verla: but I get confused

^Leslie: Is this for dialogue?

Verla: for anything

Verla: I know if someone is yelling, you would put the exclamation point inside what he yelled...

^Leslie: Okay, for dialogue: He said, "I'd go for that."

Verla: as... John screamed, "NO!"

Verla: I'm pretty much okay with that.

^Leslie: Or: He said, "I could sure go for a 'good old-fashioned' walk."

Verla: but when you get into stuff like... Next time you want to scream, "Don't."

^Leslie: Or: He said he wanted to go for a "walk".

Verla: does the period go inside the quote there or outside?

^Leslie: Next time you want to scream, don't.

^Leslie: That would be the correct way...

Verla: (well, I was trying to think of an example on the spur of the thought, Leslie. LOL)

Verla: so when does the punctuation go outside the quotes?

^Leslie: Dialogue is a really neat thing -- when you're writing it, you can roll up your sleeves, loosen your tie...

^Leslie: It can be very informal.

^Leslie: It goes on the outside when you are emphasizing something within a sentence.

^Leslie: I went for a "walk" today.

Verla: instead of within the quote?

^Leslie: Today, I went for a "walk".

farrago: "How about this?" asked farr. gets a rise out of the computer

Verla: looks good to me, farr

^Leslie: That's fine, farr.

farrago: using ? and asked in the same sentence

^Leslie: Shouldn't be a problem -- one more reason not to trust your spellchecker.

farrago: thx

Verla: I think either said OR asked would work in that case... what do the rest of you all think?

ToniB: Said is more invisible to the reader's eye.

Verla: true, toni

^Leslie: For dialogue, just remember to write the way people talk -- but unless you want to emphasize something, such as dialect, stick to the same rules for grammar, spelling and punctuation.

^Leslie: I think asked is better if you are asking a question, but it doesn't really matter. Just stay away from the "purple prose" words, like shrieked, wailed, expostulated...

Verla: yikes! We are almost out of time... does anyone else have any questions to ask before Leslie starts "winding down?" (Now THERE is a place I don't know whether to put the question mark INSIDE or OUTSIDE... in this case, should it have been outside, because the question wasn't the words "winding down" but was "outside" the quotes?

^Leslie: Nope, you should have put the question mark on the outside, Verla...

Verla: :-( <----A sideways frowning face

ToniB: However, the question mark itself tells readers it is a question. Asked is somewhat redundant, though not incorrect, of course.

Verla: AH HA! So I HAVE been doing it wrong all this time. THANKS, Leslie!

^Leslie: Any questions on ellipses, dieresis, colons, semi-colons, etc.?

Verla: eeeek! I don't even know what most of those things ARE.

^Leslie: You use 'em, you just don't know their "dress-up" names...

Verla: (well, half of em)

Lorrier: okay, I apologize for coming late, but what the heck is a dieresis?

^Leslie: Ah-hah! I knew someone would have to bite on that one.

Verla: (Thanks, lorrie, I had no clue what that was, either! LOL)

Lorrier: 'welcome :)

Verla: I *think* ellipses are ... dots.

^Leslie: It's the two dots above a vowels in a word that let you know that the vowels are pronounced separately.

Verla: huh?

Verla: is that dictionary stuff?

^Leslie: It's not in much use lately, but I have friend named Noella, who uses it in her name. Another word is "zoology".

Verla: (she's getting very technical, now! ha ha)

^Leslie: Ellipses are... Verla.

Verla: yay! I did know what they were, then.

^Leslie: Just another way of either connecting parts of a sentence, or trailing off.

Verla: and the rule for ellipses is: three inside a sentence, and four at the end of a sentence, right?

^Leslie: Yep.

Verla: yay!

^Leslie: One last thing:

Verla: eeep! Our time is UP!

^Leslie: I have to share Ernest Tucker's Rools fer Writin'.

Verla: lol.. I love the title already

^Leslie: 1. Don't use no double negatives.

^Leslie: 2. Make each pronoun agree with their antecedents.

^Leslie: 3. Join clauses good, like a conjunction should.

^Leslie: 4. About them sentence fragments.

Lorrier: lol

Verla: I love this!

^Leslie: 5. When dangling, watch your participles.

^Leslie: 6. Verbs has got to agree with their subjects.

Verla: what a great way to show what NOT to do!

^Leslie: 7. Don't write run-on sentences, when they are hard to read, especially if you want to make some sort of point.

^Leslie: 8. Don't use commas, which aren't necessary.

^Leslie: 9. Try to not ever split infinitives.

^Leslie: 10. It is important to use your apostrophe's correctly.

^Leslie: 11. Proofread your writing to see if you any words out.

Verla: (she taught us that tonight....)

^Leslie: 12. Correct speling is essential.

^Leslie: Now: go out there and clean the mud off your beautiful manuscript!

Verla: yay, Leslie! Thanks!

^Leslie: whew!

farrago: thank you leslie

Verla: (does anyone have a last question for Leslie before we officially close the workshop?)

Literally_: Thank you for spending time with us, Leslie :)

_Lyra: thanks, Leslie!!

Terin: thanks

^Libby: Thanks for all the information, Leslie!

Verla passes out silly string, confetti, and balloons to everyone....

^Leslie: You're welcome -- I know this can be a dull topic, one we take for granted...


J_Colwell: Thanks for the information.

Verla: but you really gave a LOT of useful information in a short session, Leslie.

Verla: and we do appreciate it!

Lorrier: Thanks leslie!

Verla: thanks!

^Leslie: I hope so!

Verla: and now... we are open for chat, folks...

^Leslie: 'scuse me while I change into my grubbies...

*** ^Leslie is now known as dystar

Verla: LOL leslie

*** Verla has set the topic on channel #kidlit to Writers & Illustrators of Children's Literature Meet Here Nightly - WELCOME!

dystar: PS -- The Elements of Style is by William Strunk and E.B. White, if you didn't know. Macmillan.

Log file closed at: 12/11/01 7:11:02 PM

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