Writing Roundup #5

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Writing Roundup #5 | Lydia Sanders #EclecticWritingClass

I hope you guys are ready for some homework. After a break of nearly two months, I certainly am. There’s been a shakeup in the categories with “grammar” changing into “technical stuff” and we’re starting all new resources for that category. Exciting! But now I’m getting ahead of myself.


Edit: the original Jenna Moreci video I shared in this post is gone, but enjoy this more recent video.


When I began this post, I was in the thick of outlining. One of the problems I’ve had before in stories is an abundance of plot holes. My attempts to fix major plot holes after-the-fact usually created increasingly complicated and contradictory character backstories. So this time I read up on plot holes and how to avoid them. Hopefully now I’ll be able to avoid at least some of the plot hole headaches I’ve had in the past.

I found all of these resources through Jamie Gold’s blog, though some of them are actually from/on other sites. They're in dialogue with each other, so they cover a lot of the same territory, but I got something worthwhile from each.


Write a scene including  the phrase “Oh, no!

You can read my basically unedited attempt at this prompt on Wattpad. Placeholder words are in [square brackets] and notes to myself for later are in {curly brackets}.

And don’t forget to share your attempt on Twitter with the hashtag:

Technical Stuff

As I mentioned earlier, this category has changed from “grammar” to “technical stuff.” This allows it to cover things like specific writing techniques and style guides while still leaving room for grammar.

Because our previous grammar resource became unusable, I had to find a replacement. That’s been difficult. So far the quest to find a resource with auto-scored practice material has been a flop.

So instead I reached for a book, because that’s what nerds do. Starting this month we’re going to read The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. I have a third edition with edits and additions from E.B. White, but the original version is so old that it’s in the public domain; you can get it free from a variety of sites including Project Gutenberg.

The assignment for this month is to read the Introduction and "Elementary Rules of Usage" chapters. I recommend reading it 2-3 times until you have a firm grasp of the material. If you find anything confusing, give it a Google.

It’s worth noting that though this chapter has eleven “rules,” most of them aren’t English grammar rules, but style rules. Style rules cover gray areas and help us to create an internal consistency and flow to our work when there is no universally agreed upon standard.  The Oxford comma, for instance, is a question of style. I like it (and so did Strunk—see rule 2), but if you don’t use it, that’s fine too. There is actually some debate about whether using it makes a sentence more or less clear.

Anyway, as if that wasn’t enough, I want to give you a real grammar assignment too. Install the free version of Grammarly on your phone, computer, or wherever you do most of your writing. When you get your weekly Grammarly Insights email, follow the “Learn more” links to the articles associated with the mistakes you make most often. Repeat each week.

If you want extra credit, you can also listen to the Grammar Girl podcast.


 If you want to use my words, I have a Memrise course for this class. Because I clearly haven't given myself enough homework yet, I'm increasing my limit from ten to fifteen vocabulary words. For your own lists, feel free to use as many or as few words as you like.

My words for this lesson are:
  1. Plaudit
  2. Trestle
  3. Laud
  4. Consubstantial
  5. Scintillating
  6. Cruller
  7. Disconsolate
  8. Dyspepsia
  9. Ingenuous
  10. Laconic
  11. Frippery
  12. Suppurate
  13. Gormless
  14. Trundle
  15. Philter


I finished July Camp NaNoWriMo with 50 hours of outlining, character profiles, and research. That's 20 hours more than I was shooting for, so I'm pretty happy with that. I did a little bit more with character profiles in the first week of August, but otherwise I did pretty much all of my prewriting during camp.

In August my husband and I moved from the apartment we'd lived in for five years to a lovely house in my hometown that his uncle just bought. The move went great but derailed my writing progress a bit. Since my blog post buffer was already depleted, I had to write this post letting you guys know that I wasn't going to be releasing new blog posts in August. My actual break from novel and blog post writing lasted less than two weeks, but I spent the rest of the month furiously writing review posts on all of the books and audiobooks I read while moving, so that I can once again have a good post buffer when I dive into the next draft of Spirit of Sacrifice (for which I am still playing with alternate titles).

So far September has also been a mixed bag. I've continued writing review posts. I have nine of them written already (and some of those are multi-book or series reviews) and I've planned my post schedule for the rest of the year. Some of them won't come out quite as soon as I'd like, just because I'm also trying to schedule things in line with relevant holidays. For example, I've scheduled my review of Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland for the 16th of October, because I think it's a great pre-NaNoWriMo book. Because of the schedule of these Eclectic Writing Class Roundup posts and of my quarterly goals updates and because there are a couple of short story anthology reviews that I want to have come out on consecutive weeks, that pushed my review of The Vicomte de Bragelonne: Ten Years Later by Alexandre Dumas to November 13th! Blog scheduling is tricky, y'all.

Since I've almost hit my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal for 2018, I've taken the opportunity to read some books that might take me months to get through. Much like reading a devotional or a bedtime story every day, I've started reading a couple of chapters from Poet's Choice by Edward Hirsch and a story from The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction by Ann Charters. The former is a  collection of Edward Hirsch's Poet's Choice columns that he wrote for Washington Post Book World. The latter is a textbook. Unlike a lot of textbooks, the focus is on the stories themselves. There's a short bio of the author before each story. Any related commentary pieces are in a different section of the book altogether. In that way, it basically acts as a giant anthology more than as a typical literature textbook. I've been taking a moment after I finish each story to write a page or two about it in my reading journal, just to reflect on the emotions, techniques, and any other interesting little things I learned. That has been an awesome, broadening experience.

I start my next draft of Spirit of Sacrifice today. Wish me luck!

That’s it! Writing Roundup #6 will come out in four weeks, so you have plenty of time to do the homework. To find other posts in this series and a more detailed explanation of the categories, visit An Eclectic Writing Class.

What do you think? Did I cover it all? Is there another element you’d like to see added to this post series? Leave a comment below or my hairless ghost lemur will haunt your dreams.

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