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Are You Progressively Tense?

Here’s our next look at tenses. If you missed last week’s post, review this first so you can understand what it means to be perfect 🙂

It’s important for fiction writers to understand what progressive tense is. Why? Because it’s used too often and can weaken your writing. So if you know what it is, you can look out for it (kind of like digging out the bits of onion in your salad that you don’t like). We tend to use this tense casually in speech and writing, and it certainly has its place. But if it’s not needed or just the right tense required for what you mean to say, then replace it with a better tense.

As my 9th-grade English teacher used to say: “Say what you mean. Don’t say what you don’t mean.” I live by that motto! Continue Reading…

Tenses Don’t Have to Be Intense

You took those English grammar classes in school, and you really don’t want to suffer through them again, do you? To be a great fiction writer, you don’t have to memorize all the parts of speech and be able to spout off all the various tenses. So take a deep breath and calm down. But know this—it does help to understand how words function in a sentence, and yes, it’s good to know a little about tenses.

But learning about tenses doesn’t have to be intense. When you study a foreign language, you often learn a lot about your own because you’re called upon to learn the various tenses and know how to conjugate verbs. And it’s good to understand tenses when you’re a fiction writer because you won’t always be writing in present tense. Continue Reading…

What about Those Techy Terms?

I would be remiss if I didn’t spend a moment going over hyphenation as it applies to technology-related words. This is an area of our vocabulary that grows right along with our expanding technological world. Language is always changing, but technology words present a special challenge to the writer. Mostly because many grammar guides that are written for the tech industry have rules that conflict with The Chicago Manual of Style.

Technological words are coined by folks who are more interested in technology than grammar. They are often programmers who are confined by requirements that demand the use of a single string of characters. That explains why these types of compound words begin their vocabulary life as closed terms and are most likely to be adopted that way for general use. Continue Reading…