Archive: Hammer & Tongs

The Well-Manicured Hero

FROM MR ross Could you please tell me if there's anything wrong with this sentence? Any comment/s would be appreciatedWould you open this book is the descrition on the back...

Cliche Central

FROM SUE Could you please tell me if there's anything wrong with this sentence? Any comment/s would be appreciated. He should be soaring like a bird on winning the race,...

Spy Hard

FROM SHAUN He was the average Joe attempting to blend into an acceptable societal role. An ideal familiy man, a father of four, and happily married for the past thirty...

Betting the Limit

FROM SEAN There had been a night when a majority of the players at Shane's table were wagering maximum-limit bets. Every player, except the woman on third base who played...

An Upside Down World

FROM MR. CALABASH Just wanted to get some critique on a descriptive paragraph in my MS, wondering if its too adjective-heavy. For contex, the MC finds himself in a strange...

Advice that Ain't Quite Got it

I happened upon a chunk of writing advice on parallelism when using conjunctions by a fellow named Mark Nichol. You can see the actual site here. All of his advice seems...

Epic Fail

FROM DONNY I have begun the process of writing an epic poem with the hope of someday finding someone willing to publish. Please critique this sample so I can tell...

Old MacDonald Knew Some Latin...e.g.-i.e.-o

FROM JENNIE I’ve looked up the difference between e.g. and i.e., but I’m still a bit fuzzy on it. What’s your take on it? RESPONSE If you’ve already looked it...

Running to God

FROM GARRISON This is the very beginning of a piece I've been working on. I feel like I'm doing too much telling, but I'm not sure if I should change...

Death, the Unwanted Guest

FROM SCIGUY I'm thinking of making this the back cover of my third book in my series. I'm looking for opinions on the 'hook'. Is it enough to not only...

The Utility of Beginner Questions

FROM SAM I often wonder why writers get so bogged down in needless over-thinking and generic "Can this be done?" questions. From chapter length, to multiple characters, and everything in...

What Kind of Editor Do I Need?

FROM GNARL45 I’m trying to create a magazine for roleplaying games and I’m a bit confused on the whole writing process. I’d like to write some of the articles myself...

Vampires are Sissies

FROM HARVEY Two cups of coffee this morning and my brain is still sludge. I am writing a horror (vampire) novel and I am disliking a particular description but can't...

Avoid Cussing Punctuation

FROM JONAH The last sentence is the narrator's. She is questioning the meaning of a character's exclamation. What is proper punctuation. The sentence is a question after all. My concern...

How Graphic is "Too Graphic"?

FROM LEONODAS How much is too much when it comes to graphic depictions of violence and other profane things in literature? I suppose this is a culturally sensitive issue. Forty...

Had That Again

FROM JENEANE I'm in the process of doing a bunch of rewrites, and I've noticed the words "that" and "had" popping up everywhere. Is Going to Sweden seemed like the...

From Awkward to Adroit

FROM GILBERT I have described an apartment and its many residents in several paragraphs of a story. The first sentence of a new paragraph follows. Is it awkwardly written? My...

Getting Ready to Rumble

FROM SEAN This paragraph has been bugging me since last night. Particularly the last sentance, because I don't know if it has the impact it should. Any suggestions for rewording...

Eliminate That, but How about Some Verbs?

FROM DAISY Lately, I've been dealing with my bad habit of using "that" in a lot of my sentences where it isn't necessary. Example: He knew that she was going...

All Right / Alright

FROM JARED77 "Let's go kill a dragon." "Alright, let's go." or is it: "All right" ? "How do you feel about killing the dragon?" "Alright, I guess." or "All right,...

Pruning Missing Trees

FROM MISSING TREES Hi I'm struggling a bit with my first paragraph, and having received some good advice, decided to post some options here. I've love to know which is...

Commas and Conjunctions: What's up wit dat?

FROM GILFINDEL So help me out here. Where are commas needed, tolerated, or banned, particularly in compound sentences (another thing I'm apparently fond of, along with parenthetical statements)? In particular,...

We Cannot and We Shall Not

FROM CHARLIE I've done the requisite Googling - which favors "cannot" except for a few particular situations, but it just looks wrong to me. Opinions? What is your opinion re...

Let's Get Possessive

FROM ELISE I'm having a hard time swallowing something my editor told me about possessive s's. I've always understood that you could show possession with just the apostrophe after the...

Which/That

It's Christmas time. Merry Christmas to everyone and all praise to the awesome God Who gave the greatest gift in history: Jesus Christ, Who sacrificed His life to atone for the...

Heavens to Betsy

FROM JON Hey John, I tried to write a tight scene, but maybe it's still loosey -- what do you think? Can I do better? (I really enjoy reading your...

Anymore/Any more

FROM GIL A quick question...I'm drawing a blank on this one, regarding "anymore" vs. "any more". If I tell someone I no longer love her (hypothetically, of course), would it...

He Was / She Was...Or Were They?

FROM NETTAHOBS I love to write in 3rd person. I love to explore all the characters in my story and follow them as the story progresses. I have a question....

Stopping for Gas

FROM MICHELLE My character is traveling I-10 from Pensacola to Jacksonville. He's pulling off for gas. I'm having all sorts of problems with this excerpt and I need some help!...

Editing as a Story Tool

FROM BRYAN They say it's good to cut things out in the rewrite, that it tightens the story up and makes reading it easier. Well, I pulled out the ol'...

A Day at the Beach

FROM LORNA I submit the following for your judgement and would love to hear your honest opinion. You will notice that it contains absolutely no dialogue. That's because I suck...

Creating Memorable Characters

FROM TIM I am writing to you sir, because I have a writing problem and I was kinda hoping you could help. I am a wannabe writer. I am not...

In Defense of Good Verbs

FROM ROGUE MUTT I think telling people they shouldn't use verbs like "saw" is going to make them reach for a thesaurus and come up with ridiculous sentence constructions. RESPONSE...

Funky Town

FROM DORA I think I'm going to stop writing on sundays...the day when I get most of my mini-blocks! I've been reworking this para for quite a while. The problem...

Explaining Fantasy Terms

FROM INSOMNIAC I have only begun writing this year and although I have a few shorter M/S out, I am not published. My writing is done for my own enjoyment,...

The Genius of Stupidity

I read this on another site and thought you all might enjoy it, because it just shattered me (especially #12). Actual analogies and metaphors found in high school essays: 1....

Science Writing

LAURA Hello. I am thinking of pursuing a career in science writing, or at least maybe constructing a major in it at my school. Do you know anything about science...

Uncommon Grammar

BOOKWERM Recently fractured a rib during a bout of acute bronchitis induced coughing. ER doctor said this is a, "not uncommon experience." I have wondered about phrases such as this...

Portraying Bereavement

FROM J. HORDE It's late and I'm tired and battling a cold, so if my attempts at making a coherent post come across like a garbled bunch of gobbledygook I...

Meet You at Ruby's

FROM ANGIEWRITER I'm trying to come up with a slogan for a nightclub in Nashville. It makes me think of a slogan I read at a restaurant/bar in Iowa. "Next...

Frankly, My Dear...

FROM ROSALYN Here is my sentence. I have “right now” twice and I wish to change it for a nicer and (if possible) one-word equivalent. I thought of changing the...

This Old House

FROM BOOKWERM Hi--this is the sentence. If you can rewrite it more clearly please feel free. But my concern in this post is the hypenation used to describe the kitchen....

Bacchanal Combat

FROM LINDA I want to say that usually these endless holiday meals (reader knows it's holiday) consisted of yelling, screaming, arguing, insults, fighting and unending courses of rich food. But...

Sank/Sunk

FROM GEORGINA What is the deal with sank/sunk? Which do I use and when do I use it? RESPONSE It’s commonly taught that “sank” and “sunk” are interchangeable for past...

Hapless, but Oo-La-La

FROM DONOVAN In a paragraph about a hapless French refugee during WWII, a family antes up enough cash to buy him a launderette. He surprises them by making quite a...

Ah, Romance...

FROM DELTA After a midweek, late afternoon lunch, Nick and Carla return to her apartment instead of work. She has magnificent view of WTC (pre 9/11) and ostensibly they will...

Schooling Hemingway

FROM DON Many times people have warned against the use of “was” or “were” – “being verbs.” They are also known as “imperfect tense.” Usually, a writer will avoid them in...

Lay/Lie

FROM GINNIE I applied to a content company and was provided a test to complete, but have not completely passed it. I have a feeling that I am not completely...

A Geometry of Writing: Parallel Structure

FROM BOOKWERM (Days after becoming engaged, Carla meets Nick and is thunder struck. When she accepts his dinner invitation she justifies it with this sentence. Could it be written better...

It isn't / It's not

FROM SKYCATCHER I sent a text message using the phrase "it's not" and later I got thinking about what I'd written and went into this dialogue with myself about these...

Passive Aggressive

FROM ANNIEO I am confused about a recent critique I received by a publishing insider (as part of a contest I entered recently). This person stated that I used passive...

Tighten Up and Lighten Up

FROM BOOKWERM Well, finally ready to put book up on Kindle and Create Space. This is one sentence in my acknowledgement. I thank several people and would like to include this. Can...

Further/Farther

FROM KIMMYPIE How do you know when to use further or farther? RESPONSE The most common rule is that “further” generally applies to degree (as in more of something) and...

I Hate this Rule, Period

FROM HERKIMER12 A writing coach received my chapter that included these sentences: When I agreed to live with Nick, I neglected to point out that I expected this step would...

Oh, Dear...

FROM DANZAHOOP Rhett says, "Frankly, my dear...." I've read published "Okay, Kiddo..." So if Rhett had said, "Frankly, Dear...." would dear be capitalized? RESPONSE "Dear" is not a legitimate title, but a term of...

Hanged/Hung

FROM CLEO Is it "hanged" or "hung"? RESPONSE Tradition says people are hanged and everything else is hung, but either one is fine as far as meaning. I like "hanged"...