Writing, Grammar and Punctuation Tutorial

1.�¯�¿�½ Expressive Writing & Style:

> Fluency: The exceptional writer demonstrates ease and facility in expressing ideas, observations, and feelings. The writing flows smoothly and naturally, and is understandable. It remains generally focused on the topic, but may digress. If there is a shift to another topic, the shift is logical and easy to follow.�¯�¿�½

> Exploration of Concept: Exceptional writing shows an exploration of conceptual ideas, which the writer finds interesting and/or provocative. The writer appears to be engaged in the process and is willing to take risks and reshape conventional ideas. The writing conveys a vivid impression of thoughts, feelings, and images through the use of details. It often demonstrates insightful and reflective thinking, either by direct statement or implication.�¯�¿�½

> Voice/style: The exceptional writer uses lively and concrete language appropriate to the writer’s purpose. He or she writes personally and naturally, often in a conversational tone. Sentence structure and length are varied as appropriate to the writer’s purpose.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

> Sense Engagement: Exceptional writing engages all five senses without a need for the writer to indicate which sense is being addressed. Readers should be clearly able to experience, second hand, the sensations of the characters about whom they are reading. Sense engagement should be naturally, seamlessly, and carefully.�¯�¿�½

2.�¯�¿�½ Technical Proficiency:

> Good Grammar: The exceptional writer knows that rules are tools. They are not mere regulations designed to get in the way, and they are not an opportunity to bend them as a special treat. Instead, the exceptional writer will consider the rules as a collection of techniques that are likely to have the desired effect on his or her readers. How he or she chooses to handle those rules depends on skill, talent, and awareness.

Good grammar is a skill to build through study and practice. The exceptional writer must know the rules in order to break them.
> Punctuation: The exceptional writer knows that the rules of punctuation are not fixed; they are constantly changing. The rules of punctuation are created and maintained by writers to help make their prose more effective, and the exact meaning changes over time.

Like good grammar, proper punctuation is a skill to build through study and practice. Most editors will reject a piece that is not properly punctuated with regard to the following standards, which are subject to evolve.

a. >> Colon: In prose, a colon really does only one thing: it introduces. It can introduce just about anything: a word, a phrase, a sentence, a quotation, something the writer wishes to emphasize, or a list.
b. >> Semicolon: The semicolon is generally used to link independent clauses (sentences) that are not joined by a co-coordinating conjunction (“and,” “but,” “or,” “nor,” “for,” “so,” or “yet”). Semicolons should join only those independent clauses (sentences) that are similar or closely related in meaning.
c. >> Quotation Marks: Direct quotations are a person’s (a character) exact words incorporated into writing as dialogue. Most quotation standards applied to dialogue are as follows:Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

c1. >>> A comma should be used to introduce a quotation after a standard dialogue tag, a brief introductory phrase, or a dependent clause, for example, “He asked,” “She stated,” “According to Bronson,” or “As Shakespeare wrote.” Use a colon to introduce a quotation after an independent clause.
c2. >>> Commas and periods should be placed within closing quotation marks, except when a parenthetical reference follows the quotation.
c3. >>> Colons and semicolons should be placed outside closing quotation marks.
c4. >>> Dashes, question marks, and exclamation points should be placed within closing quotation marks when the punctuation applies to the quote itself and outside the closing quotation marks when it applies to the whole sentence.�¯�¿�½

d. >> Comma: A comma tells the reader to pause. Some writers can tell where a comma is needed by reading their prose aloud and inserting a comma where there seems to be a clear pause in the sentence. However, this procedure is not the most precise way to approach comma usage. Below are four general ways to use commas with a reasonable degree of certainty:

d1. >>> When three or more items are listed in a sentence, place a comma between each member of the list.
d2. >>> A comma is often used to fasten two sentences, thoughts, or phrases together. When two sentences are fastened in this way an accompanying conjunction (such as and, or but) is necessary.
d3. >>> Most sentences consist of a short core sentence with many additional details. Those details are added to sentences by attaching one or more words to the front or back using commas to separate those words from the core. (i.e. Although she flunked chemistry and barely passed math, Joan is a good student.)
d4. >>> Sometimes non-essential information is added to the middle of a sentence. Commas on either side must be used to offset that addition. (i.e. Ms. Johnson, who is the company president, will present the award at our annual dinner.)�¯�¿�½

e. >> The Dash:Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ The dash-often typed as two hyphens side by side with no space between the dash and the words on either side of it-is used to connect groups of words to other groups. Generally, the dash does this in two ways: it separates words in the middle of a sentence from the rest of the sentence (i.e. Linda Simpson-her husband called her the ice queen-was killed last night in New Orleans.), or it leads to material at the end of a sentence (i.e. Generally, a man’s sex drive will decrease as he gets older-although, it’s true that most men enjoy an active sex life throughout their senior years.)Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½
f. >> Apostrophe:�¯�¿�½ An apostrophe is a signal telling the reader that a word is either a possessive or a contraction.�¯�¿�½

> Spelling: �¯�¿�½This is self-explanatory. The exceptional writer, as well as the average writer, will know that a spell checker should be used if he or she does not have a strong grasp of proper spelling, but also that many words will slip by even a high quality spell checker.

3. Character Development:

> Multi-Dimensional:�¯�¿�½ The exceptional writer understands that interesting and dynamic characters are at least two-dimensional and will strive to build upon these dimensions to create sympathetic characters.�¯�¿�½

> Flawed:Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ The exceptional writer understands that engaging characters do not come from mass production or recycling the same character types [read “stereotypes”]. Readers want to identify with the people to whom they are introduced in the fiction they read. If a character is flawed, physically, mentally, emotionally, or otherwise, they are more likely to be embraced [and loved or hated] by the readers.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

> Detailed:Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ Most popular prose provides clearly written details about the character’s thought processes, physical actions, and emotional reactions. The exceptional writer will strive to put themselves into the minds of the people who populate their fiction in order to explore the textures of their personalities and relay what is discovered in detail that engages all of the reader’s senses. Through a well-fleshed character, the reader will experience exotic foods, lesbian love, the way Brazil looks at midnight in a downpour, the feel of seaweed clinging to ankles, or an aroma that has the power to arouse deep emotion. The exceptional writer will always spend time and heart to discover the detail that will bring his or her characters to life.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

> Profiled:�¯�¿�½ Often, it is helpful to draw up a complete character profile from which to create your character detail as described above.�¯�¿�½

4. Point of View and Tense:

> Point of View:�¯�¿�½ The exceptional writer understands the difference between point of view and perspective. He or she will remain true to the chosen point of view throughout his or her piece and be aware that point of view is the head [mind], or camera angle from which the story is delivered. Most publications recognize the following basic points of view as acceptable:

a. >> Third person point of view: the narrator/main character is “he,” “she,” “they,” etc.
b. >> First person point of view: the narrator/main character is “I,” “me,” “we,” etc.
c. >> Second person point of view: the narrator/main character is “you,” etc. (not generally accepted for publication.)Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

> Point of View Versus Perspective:�¯�¿�½ Exceptional writing indicates that the writer understands both terms and provides clear distinction between the two as shown in the examples below.�¯�¿�½

a. >> Third person point of view from a male perspective:�¯�¿�½ He stood over her as she slept.
>> First person point of view, but the perspective is still from the male even though the pronoun has changed:�¯�¿�½ I stood over her as she slept.
b. >> This is still first person point of view, but the perspective has now shifted to the female of the same scene:�¯�¿�½ He stood over me and assumed I was asleep.�¯�¿�½

> Tense:�¯�¿�½ The exceptional writer is constantly mindful of the need to maintain consistent tense:

a. >> Do not shift from one tense to another if the time frame for each action or state is the same.
b. >> Do shift tense to indicate a change in time frame from one action or scene to another.
c. >> Establish a primary tense, and use occasional slight shifts in that tense to indicate changes in time frame.�¯�¿�½

> Tense List:�¯�¿�½ These are the basic tense forms of which the exceptional writer is aware. He or she should study and memorize all verb forms to maintain consistency and accuracy, and to avoid writing in the passive voice:

a. >> Present Tense (simple):�¯�¿�½ Present tense conveys an unchanging, repeated, or reoccurring action or situation that exists only now.
b. >> Past Tense (simple):�¯�¿�½ Past tense conveys an action or situation that started and finished in the past. Most past tense verbs end in -ed.
c. >> Future Tense (simple):�¯�¿�½ Future tense expresses an action or situation that will occur in the future.
d. >> Other Tense Forms to Study:�¯�¿�½ present progressive, past progressive, future progressive, present perfect, past perfect, future perfect, present perfect progressive, past perfect progressive, and future perfect progressive.�¯�¿�½

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