Saturday, November 12, 2022

Words of Inspo for #NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month is upon us, and the pressure is on!  If you're not in the know, NaNoWriMo is an annual challenge in which participants attempt to write a 50,000-word manuscript during the month of November.  With a focus on length of work over quality of writing, writers are encouraged to finish their first draft quickly so it can be edited later at their discretion.  After all, writing is revising, as they say.  

I'm all for NaNoWriMo, but I also like to take this time to read and reflect on established authors' words of wisdom.  This year, I'm focused on Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing, which I love almost as much as Leonard's sleek and stylish crime-fiction books.  

Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing

1. Never open a book with weather.

2. Avoid prologues. 

3. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.

4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” …

5. Keep your exclamation points under control.  

6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”

7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly. 

8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.  

9. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.

And finally:

10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. 

My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.  If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

So go write that NYT best seller #NaNoWriMo novel, y'all!  Just watch those adverbs and don't overdo the exclamation points.  And remember,  if it sounds like writing, rewrite it.  

I think I'll go re-read Be Cool now.     

Thursday, October 6, 2022

October Literacy Loot

Anyone who knows me knows I love Spooky Season!  And what's not to like?  Candy overload, haunted hayrides, sweater weather, and of course chills and thrills!  

In October, I also love to create products that leverage literacy skill-building with a touch of spine-tingling creepiness.  Bring on the Edgar Allan Poe!  

Below are some of my favorite reading, writing, and vocabulary resources that celebrate October and everything that entails.  Hold my pumpkin spice...

Halloween Haiku Bundle

Halloween Literature PowerPoint Bundle

Fears and Phobias Vocabulary Bundle 

The Monkey's Paw Unit Bundle

Gothicism and Suspense Bundle

The Tell Tale Heart Unit Bundle

Edgar Allan Poe PowerPoint Bundle

Click HERE for more literacy products!

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Em’s Em’s: An Homage to Emily Dickinson and the Em Dash

If you are writer of any sort, you probably have strong opinions on punctuation, such as the vanishing Oxford comma, the ubiquitous ellipsis, and my personal favorite, the business-casual of all punctuation marks—the em dash. 

And if you’re like me, you can be a little judgy based on people’s choice of punctuation or lack thereof, and that’s totally okay.  True confession - I’ve actually broken up with future fiancés based on poor punctuation choices.  Maybe not to their face, but deep in my heart I knew we didn’t have a future.  I’m just sayin;’ I take punctuation very personally. 

Which brings me back to the eminent em dash, a.k.a. the Bad Boy/Cool Girl of Punctuation.  But first things first — how do you even make an em dash?*  Because two short dashes do not equal one em, which means it takes a little effort and finesse on the part of the writer and therefore worthy of respect on that point alone.  Fun fact: the name comes directly from typography, as the em dash is literally a dash that is the width of an M.

The other important need-to-know is of course when to use the em dash, so as not to look like you’re writing in Morse code but execute with bold assurance when the situation calls for it.  Basically, “emmies” (my word – not official) are a stylish way to break up a longer sentence, add modification phrases, or show a break in dialogue.  Emmies allow the reader to pause and absorb your voice, adding fresh energy and weight to your writing.    



“Steve**, what is so hard about using an Oxford comma—”

“Seriously, Kim!  Keep your affected punctuation opinions to yourself.  I write good.”

(Fine, I will.  But we are officially broken up.  PS – You’re cheap and a dope!  Good is an adjective, not an adverb).

**Names have been changed to protect the grammatically guilty.   


I give full credit to my favorite poet, the Myth—Emily Dickinson—for introducing me to the em dash.  Dickinson regularly ended gorgeous lines of her aphoristic poetry with emmies, possibly to highlight the ambiguity of a word or underscore her own observations on life.  



To wit - 

Because I could not stop for Death—
He kindly stopped for me—
The Carriage held but just Ourselves—
And Immortality.

As seen is “Because I Could Not Stop for Death,” Em’s em’s give us a window into her worldview, allowing the reader to hold space and reflect on what she’s saying.  In this case, Death is a gentleman suitor taking the speaker on a hot date joyride to eternity.  And she’s totally okay with that as he is dripping with strapping chivalry (and clearly not cheap—carriage ride and all)!  That’s personification at its finest, enhanced with an em dash or Em dash, as is this case.  

One thing is for sure.  If the woman in white embraced the em dash, I will too!  Thanks, Em!   

* On a Mac, it’s as simple (or complicated) as Option + Shift + Hyphen.

Love Emily?  

Click HERE for nifty literacy products! 

Thursday, September 8, 2022