Workshop Transcript

Writing Right

with Gail Martini



Karma: What's the topic?

Verla: Writing Right

Verla: with Apostrophes and Action Verbs...

Verla: Eight minutes to workshop time

*** Gail has left channel #Kidlit

Verla: Hey! Gail can't LEAVE!

Verla: She is the moderator tonight!

Verla: Gail! Get BACK HERE!


Lyra_: stop yelling, she can't hear you

*** Gail has joined channel #Kidlit

Verla: GAIL!

Gail: Wow! I caused quite a stir.

Verla: You DID, gail.

Verla: I mean, what would YOU do, Gail, if you had set up a meeting and the only speaker suddenly ran out of the room and disappeared just minutes before the meeting? Huh?

Verla: No choice but to panic, gail.

Gail: You know by now that I am responsible.

Verla: Grin. I know that, gail. But sometimes telephone lines and internet providers aren't so obliging!

Verla: Okay, folks...this workshop is about to begin.

Verla: Pull up a chair and get your notebooks and pencils ready.

Verla hands gail a pitcher of ice water and a good, non-tipable glass


Verla: Let me set the topic, then you can introduce yourself, gail and we can get going.

*** Verla has set the topic on channel #Kidlit to Writing Right-Workshop in progress


Gail: Gail Martini-Peterson here. Professional educator, retired after 32 years of teaching history and English in the Seattle School District. I also taught other things including reading.

Gail: Alliteration, Hyperbole, Metaphor, Simile, and words to avoid. A log of that workshop can be viewed on Verla's web page.

Gail: This time I want to remind you of active verbs and punctuation. As time passes, we forget all the rules our English teachers tried to drum into our heads. Also, when we don't see a reason for remembering something, we tend to weed it out of our head.

Verla: That's for sure, gail!

Gail: Jump in at any time to offer your own examples or to ask questions. If I seem slow after a question, it means I am thinking. And thinking is hard.


Gail: Decorating your weak or less strong verbs with adverbs is called "adverbitis" by Jones and Pollinger in Writing for Children. The same for too many adjectives--"adjectivitis".

Verla: Obviously, those are NOT good things, gail.


Gail: How about when writing dialogue?

Gail: "Why write 'she said' when you can embroider your text with 'sadly' or 'gladly' or 'effusively'?

Karma: Because "she said" is invisible, or nearly so.

Gail: Why use 'said' when you could use 'exclaimed'. ranted', 'quipped', 'declared', 'opined', 'effused', or 'remarked'?

Verla: I get VERY tired quickly when a manuscript is peppered with other words than, "said."

Lyra_: Those are good to mix in with "saids"

Gail: All of these words are perfectly fine in moderation; if someone makes an exclamation, then by all means say so; or if a person is breathless, then do not hesitate to mention it. However, these words need to be used sparingly and with caution, otherwise the dialogue becomes overburdened and loses all resonance." (Jones and Pollinger--Writing for Children)


Gail: A single word is preferable to a phrase as a rule.

Gail: Jill ran quickly across the courtyard.

Gail: Jill raced... (This sounds faster.)

Verla: Jill zoomed

Karma: Jill darted.

Gail: Tony walked in slowly.

Gail: Tony limped into the room.

Verla: Ah. Yes.

Verla: Tony dragged

Verla: Or stumbled

Karma: Tony plodded.

Verla: Good one, Karma!

Gail: Be aware of non-descriptive verbs such as: came, ran, walked

Verla: Words that don't "paint a picture," gail!

Gail: There are lots of substitutes. What did she do exactly--get out the Thesaurus.

Verla: Yep

Gail: stride, strut, trudge, clump, thump, stagger, drag, fumble, stalk, hurtle, fly, thunder, float, dance, dart, creep, sweep, hobble, whirl...

Verla: Hmmm. Great words, gail.

Suzy-Q: ambled

Gail: Mark Twain said. "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug."

Karma: :) Great quote!

Verla: I know about THAT, gail. Took me six months to find two words for Gold Fever


Gail: Be careful with eyes. Let them look, gaze or glance or stare. An example of too much would be: pop, fall, rivet, swivel, drop, follow, cling.

Verla: LOL

Verla: that does paint a very interesting picture of eyes, gail!

Verla: I can just see those eyes swiveling, then dropping and clinging to the sweater of the hero...

Verla: Of course the heroine is now a monster from Godzilla...

***Gail has left Kidlit

Verla: Ahhhgh.

Karma: Oh, dear!

Verla: We lost gail.

Verla: She will be right back, I'm sure.

Suzy-Q: She must have lost her eyes

Karma: My eyes pOpped when I saw that!

Karma: :)

Verla: Meantime, lets do some practice sentences using what she just taught us.

Karma: Verla talked slowly to her husband.

Karma: Okay, juice that up!

*** Gail has joined channel #Kidlit

Verla: Ha ha ha. Verla NEVER talks slowly...

Karma: :)

Gail: Did I get bumped?

Karma: Verla, you know I write fiction


Gail: Whole paragraphs of action can be eliminated by the right choice of a verb in a sentence.

Verla: paragraphs?

Gail: Come up with another more powerful verb for:

Verla: I knew words...but PARAGRAPHS?

Gail: told, tell

Gail: lived, live

Verla: Hey. One at a time, gail!

Gail: Paragraphs is what I read.

Verla: Okay.

Karma: Explained.

Karma: announced.

Gail: Anyone want to come up with other words?

Verla: She related

Gail: If you don't want to play, I can move on.

Verla: no!

Verla: I'm thinking, gail

Karma: I'm trying!

Lyra_: blurted, yelled, screamed...

Karma: Lived is hard.

Verla: Hollared

Karma: shouted.

Karma: whispered.

Verla: lived is impossible!

Dawn: screamed

Karma: LOL!

Gail: inhabited?

Verla: Give us a sentence, gail

Verla: Then we can work with it

Karma: : )

Verla: LOL


Verla: With live or lived in it

Verla: resided

Gail: Dwell is a verb.

Gail: Right, Verla.

Verla: that's old fashioned

Verla: no one "dwells" anymore except in fairy tales

Gail: come, came

Karma: reside.

Verla: That's better.

Lyra_: inhabited, hung out

Karma: hung out is great.

Verla: She entered

Karma: I was thinking live, as in being alive...!

Karma: couldn't figure out a substitute. : )

Gail: existed.

Verla: You could also use words like walked, ran, strode, for came in a sentence like...she came into the room


Gail: Now watch it with this one!

Gail: take, took


Karma: steal.

Lyra_: snatched, swiped

Karma: extracted.

Gail: grabbed

Verla: grabbed

Verla: Hey!

Suzy-Q: aquired

Verla: I was saying that!

Karma: jinx!

Verla: snitched

Karma: accepted.

Gail: cut

Verla: cut?

Karma: snipped.

Gail: sliced

Verla: You mean something in place of cut?

Verla: Okay

Karma: dice.

Gail: carved

Karma: chopped.

Dawn: slice

Verla: knifed

Karma: hacked.

Verla: Oooo, I like hacked, karma!

Gail: eat, ate

Karma: gobbled

Karma: pigged out

Gail: munched

Dawn: scarfed

Verla: nibbled

Gail: consumed

Karma: slurped

Verla: swallowed!

Karma: : )

Suzy-Q: appropriate

Verla: tasted

Gail: Any comments before I move onto the apostrophe?

Lyra_: nope

Karma: That's fun!

Verla: Nice game and informative, too, gail.

Gail: The Apostrophe. Nasty little mark. But it has only four uses. Did you know that? Only four.

Verla: Apostrophe = headache

Karma: Good one!

Gail: Hehehe

Verla: possesive


Gail: 1. When we want to form the plural of a symbol, abbreviation, acronym, signs, numbers, or years.

Karma: And its is possesive without one!

Karma: Go figure!


Verla: contraction

Karma: Just breathe through it...

Gail: There are two r's in my name.

Gail: Your t's look exactly like l's.

Gail: Form your 7's and 9's carefully.

Verla: And plurals of letters, too, I see, gail.

Gail: I grew up in the 60's.

Gail: In the 1950's the poodle skirt was all the rage.

Gail: 2. An 's is used to form the plural of a word referred to as the word itself, but the apostrophe is not necessary when the word retains its meaning.

Gail: Read that again.

Verla: Now THAT I do not understand, gail.

Karma: No apostrophe!!!

Gail: But what does it mean?

Karma: :)

Gail: Your manuscript has too many and's.

Gail: There can be no and's, if's, and but's (Meaning these words cannot appear) in your manuscript.

Gail: There can be no ands, ifs, and buts (Meaning no conditions) about the rules of the road.

Verla: I don't understand what you are getting at, gail. Where is the difference in those two sentences? Are they both punctuated correctly?

Gail: Both are correct.

Karma: No ands ifs and buts, I'm LOST!

Verla: But...they are the SAME, gail!

Karma: No and's if's and but's, I'm lost!????

Karma: Which one Gail?

Verla: I'm loster than YOU are, karma. Move over!

Karma scoots over.

Lyra_: maps for sale!

Gail: If you mean that you should not use the WORDS and, if but...use an apostrophe.

Verla: LOL!

Verla: I need TWO, lyra!

Lyra_: handing out maps--charging very high rates

Karma: Oh brother!

Karma: I'm totally not understanding.

Gail: Quit charging high rates.

Karma: Why is it so confusing.

Verla: (thief!) (lyra)

Lyra_: (g)

Karma: I before E except after c... : )

Gail: If you are talking about the WORDS, they are like the l's and r's above.

Karma: BRB

Verla: Except in Weird, karma, which is a very weird word.

Lyra_: yup

Gail: Stop the weird! stuff.

Verla: sorry, gail.

Gail: If you are talking about the WORDS.

Lyra_: (bet Gail feels like she's still teaching 8th graders)

Verla hangs her head and stands in the corner

Gail: Stop. It is easy.

Verla: Okay. Show me it's easy.

Verla: (prove it to me, teach.)

Gail: If you say that someone may not use the words and, but, or, so, or whatever, you must put an apostrophe s to show that it is the WORDS you mean.

Gail: If you mean the concept: no apostrophe needed.

Karma: But if it's not the words, but just the old expression, you don't?

Gail: There can be no ands, ifs, and buts (Meaning no conditions) about the rules of the road.

Karma: As in no buts about it?

Verla: You may not use <the words> weird's in this story.

Gail: Right Karma! A star goes on her chart!!!

Karma: LOL verla!

Karma got a na na na naaaahhh na!

Gail: Yes! Verla!!!

Verla: Ha! I got exclamation points, karma. So THERE!

Gail: Are the rest of you in the dark? I see no hands raised, and there is no eye contact!

Verla: Sheesh. Via the internet, she wants EYE contact.

Verla emails gail an eyeball.

Gail: Teachers know you got it if there is eye contact.

Verla: <::>

Verla: Oops. Sorry. Closed eye.

Gail: It is a small point you may rarely use. Let's move on.



Lyra_: I get confused when I have a last name like Lucas and I had to show possessive

Karma: ME TOO!

Karma: I usually just change the name, to Luke!

Lyra_: I have changed names, too, but sometimes it was too late

Gail: 3. An apostrophe appears whenever letters are left out.

Verla: Yeah. In a contraction

Gail: it is-----it's

Gail: they are-----they're (the a is left out)

Verla: The one most people have trouble with is its and it's. But I DON'T. Because I just read the sentence and see if I can substitute IT IS for the word. If I CAN, then I put in the apostrophe

Gail: Good, girl Verla!

Lyra_: And I have no trouble with it's or its

Gail: we are-----we're (the a is left out)

Gail: If you question a word, see if you can break it into two separate words. If you can, it is a contraction and needs an apostrophe.

Gail: "Where's that other shoe?"

Gail: "What other shoe?

Gail: "The other one like this one." Tanner holds up a lone tennis shoe. "I can't find its mate."

Gail: Here is the explanation of the above contractions:

Verla: Yeah. See? You can't use the words it is in there, so no apostrophe.

Verla: I cannot find it is mate doesn't make sense, so no apostrophe.

Gail: (Its is a possessive pronoun and shows possession just by being, so no apostrophe is needed. Others are: hers, yours, ours, his, theirs.)

Gail: But be sure to put the apostrophe exactly where the letters are left out:

Verla: Right.

Gail: do'nt----don't have'nt-----haven't

Gail: 4. The apostrophe is used to show ownership (possession). Something belongs to someone or something. Add an 's to the noun.

Verla: Like lots of people stuff them in the wrong places. Would'nt

Verla: That's wrong.

Gail: the company's plan

Gail: the city's streets

Verla: Wouldn't is right because it's (it is) really "would not."

Gail: a week's pay

Gail: a month's rest

Gail: today's paper

Gail: within a hair's breadth (trite expression, don't use it)

adnil: yesterday's news

Verla: Ah..and when the word ends in S, then the apostrophe goes AFTER the s with no new S added...right?

Gail: Didn't follow that, Verla.

Gail: Verla is ahead of me. She gets a demerit.

Gail: demerit

Verla: Auuugh! I'm still trying for a STAR, like Karma's. All I got was exclamation points.

Gail: the dog's house

Gail: Susan's comb

Gail: mother's purse

Gail: the lady's room

Gail: Ah, but what if it belongs to several dogs, or there are three Susans, or the room is where all the ladies go to relieve themselves.


Verla: Lucas'


Gail: Make the word plural first, and then add the 's. To keep from having s's, drop the extra s if the word ends in s as most nouns in English do. But a few words make their plural in a different way.

Verla: The neighbors' houses

adnil: then the apostrophe comes after the S- right?

Gail: Correct Verla. Now is the time for a STAR!

Verla: The Jones' children

Verla: the playgrounds' slides

Gail: Right adnil. When I was teaching 8th graders, I would write it

Lyra_: is it: Lucas' sword?

Verla: Yes, lyra!

Lyra_: I had that name in a recent story--and too late to switch it

Gail: with s's and then erase the second s as being not necessary.

Verla: Yep.

Verla: Cause Lucas's looks dumb

Gail: That is before computers. The chalk in the room is bad for the computers.

Lyra_: But nowaways white boards for felt pens are still called blackboards (in schools)

Verla: s's is like hissing at someone

Gail: My husband's name is Dennis. You know that. How about Dennis's comb?

Gail: Yuk!

Verla: No...Dennis' comb.

Verla: Right?

Gail: We are poor in Seattle Public. We had plenty of chalkboards, and no whiteboards.

Gail: dogs'-----not dogs's

Gail: Susans'-----not Susans's

Gail: ladies'-----not ladies's

Lyra_: Is there any instance where it's ***s's?

Gail: men's-----plural of man

Gail: children's-----plural of child

Verla: I am from the dark ages. Whiteboards didn't exist when I went to school. Or my kid's schools, either.

Gail: If two or more people own the same thing, the possessive goes after the last one:

Gail: Linda, Joan, and Martha's apartment

Lyra_: oh-that's something I get messed up on sometimes--thanks, Gail!

Suzy-Q: Also called dry erase boards Verla

Verla: AH! THERE is a new one for me!

Gail: Lyra, not to my knowledge. Looks dumb, doesn't it!

Lyra_: ok

Verla: Yeah. And it's like the writer is Hissing at the reader. Don't want to hiss at your readers, right?

Gail: If they each own similar but different things, each one gets the plural treatment.

Gail: Linda's and Martha's dates showed up at the same time.

Gail: Albert's and Roger's sisters are both brunettes.

Verla: Now WAIT a minute.

Verla: I think I got lost on THAT one, gail.

Gail: And that is all the apostrophe does. Four things.

Lyra_: Ha, ha, Verla! I understand perfectly (smug smile)

Verla: If everyone in the "list" owns exactly the same thing then the apostrophe goes ONLY on the last name, but if each person owns something different, then EACH name has an apostrophe?

Gail: Verla gets a second STAR!

Verla: TA DA!\

Verla: Na na na NAAAA na, karma!

Lyra_: I don't need stars ... I have other assets


Gail: Here are some sentences to test your skills:

Gail: I couldnt and I wouldnt want to go to his party.

adnil: (I'd like to go to his party)


Verla: I couldn't and wouldn't want to go to his party

Suzy-Q: I couldn't and I wouldn't want to go to his party.

Gail: couldn't, wouldn't

Verla: Right. We got that one, gail. Next?

Verla: (We are SO good, sq!)


Gail: Its late and Im going inside because its cold out here.

Verla: It's late and I'm going inside because it's cold out here

Suzy-Q: It's late and I'm goind inside because it's cold out here

Gail: It's, I'm, it's


Gail: The days end came so quickly that I couldnt believe I had been working for ten hours.

Verla: day's couldn't

Suzy-Q: days, couldn't

Gail: day's, couldn't

Suzy-Q: oh well

Verla: The end belongs to the day, right?


Gail: Somebodys coat has been left on the Clarks porch.

Verla: somebody's clarks'

Suzy-Q: Somebody's, clarks'

Verla: Hey hey, we matched that time, sq!

Gail: Somebody's, Clark's


Gail: Ellen combs the cats fur every day, but she never clips its claws.

Verla: combs cat's clips its claws

Lyra_: Why does she? Ellen needs to treat her cat better.

Gail: One Clark family

Suzy-Q: combs, cat's

Verla: HUH?

Gail: Back to Clark! There is one Clark family.

Suzy-Q: its

Gail: Clark's

Suzy-Q: got it

Verla: But lots of people IN the Clark family!

Verla: Lots of clarks.

Gail: But only one family.

Verla: That was SNEAKY, gail

Lyra_: Verla loses a star


Gail: Are we doing cats and claws?

Verla: Its time for the cat to have its bath

Gail: cat's (That was a trick to really test your skill.)

Verla: And it's too late to give it two baths

Gail: Is that hat yours or hers?

Verla: Hey, gail!

Verla: I said this on the cat WAS right, wasn't it?

Verla: Verla: combs cat's clips its claws

Verla: No apostrophes in that sentence, gail!

Lyra_: okay, Verla deserves her star back, happy?

Verla: Whew. Yes, lyra. Thank you.

Verla: Yikes! Only two minutes left.


Gail1: I said at the last, if there are any burning questions you need answered, I will try, but everyone help.

Verla: But you didn't answer MY question, gail


Dawn1: This may be stupid but I saw a sentence that started with And in a childrens book and I thought that was a no no

Dawn1: I want to know if you can start a sentence with and

Verla: Ah ha! And BUT, too!

Dawn1: I saw it in a kids book, I thought it was a no no

Gail: Yes, you can.

Verla: And But, too?

Lyra_: I frequently start sentences with "And"

Gail: If you are trying to reduce the number od words in a sentence in a children's book

Verla: But not this time. Not this time.

Gail: Or it has an impact.

Dawn1: My husband read something of mine and said you can't do that

Gail: Don't over use it.

Lyra_: I often go back and cut some of my "And's" out

Gail: Grammatically, it is not correct, unless you have a good reson.

Verla: Ah. For impact. Just have to make sure the impact doesn't get too heavy, huh?

Gail: Same thing with BUT.

Verla: Oh, THANK YOU, Gail. It was another GREAT workshop and we really appreciate your time & effort.

Gail: You must know why you are doing it.

Verla: Three cheers for Gail!

Lyra_: applause! Sending apples to our teacher!

Verla: Hip Hip HOOORAY!

Gail: Thank you all.

Verla: Hip Hip HOOORAY!

Verla: Hip Hip HOOORAY!

Dawn1: Yeah

Dawn1: applause!!!!!!!!!!!!

adnil: thanks gail!

Verla throws a bouquet at gail

Lyra_: poor Gail is dodging apples and flowers...

Gail: I use the And at the beginning of the sentence too much. I need to stop.

Verla: bouquet hits gail in the nose...

Gail: Ouch.

Verla: one thorn is stuck in the side of Gail's nose.

Lyra_: I feel the "And" adds a rhythm to the sentence

Gail: The roses are heavy this time of year.

Lyra_: I won't tell you where the apple got stuck!!

Verla: Adnil rushes over with tweezers and forceps

Gail: I think it does, too, Lyra.

Gail: Adnil, she is the nurse.

adnil gives gail 10 stars

adnil: on her forehead

Gail: Ouch, again.

adnil: off duty!

Verla sits on gail to hold her down so adnil can extract the thorn from Gail's nose...

Lyra_: Adnil will not wipe up blood in this room

Dawn1: I needed this workshop, thanks Gail.

Verla: Darn! I had NO idea Gail was so strong!

adnil: with my poor eyesight I'd probably pull Gail's nose off!

Gail: Thanks, Dawn.

Verla flies off into the sunset...Gail's one big push did her in...

adnil: putting my glasses on...oh yes, I see- that IS a nose

Verla: Give Gail back her nose, adnil! Thief!

Verla: Seriously, Thanks a MILLION, Gail. It was a GREAT workshop!

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Verla Kay

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