Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Brain! Soul! Pancreas!

I reckon one of the first things people comment on when they read my poetry is the grammar. Even if the poem itself is pretty mediocre, you can guarantee the grammar will be near pitch perfect. Capital letters at the start of every line, appropriate commas, full stops, semi colons and other forms of punctuation in all the correct places to aid reading - you name it, I do my best to do it. Free verse and I have never really got along - my battle for the rights of the Lesser Spotted Comma has ingrained a true case of Grammar Nazi Syndrome that refuses to step aside, even for the most noble artistic purposes.

And it doesn't stop at poetry, either. One of the first things I revise upon editing a work of prose - be it school essay or 300 page novel - is the grammar and flow of each sentence. I get angsty at clunky sentences, start chewing my nails when misplaced apostrophes appear in signs around my boarding house, and perform something between a Hulk-esque metamorphosis and an epileptic fit over text-speak contractions in locations outside a text-based environment.

I even wrote a letter to the Daily Telegraph once, complaining about the grammar in a paricularly poorly written column at the back of the paper. They didn't publish it, but I would not rest until I had made my point.

And just when you thought I couldn't get any worse ... it turns out it's not just grammar that I'm pernickety about. I'm a control freak to the Nth degree - calling me up impromptu to work at your shelter for orphaned blind kittens, simply presuming that I have already agreed to this, will result in the painful removal of your innards. Through your nostrils.

I like my life planned and sorted out, so I can keep on top of everything. Blame a hectic school life for this - I'd never get ANYTHING done without my routine and, being the High Queen of the Procrastinatos, I need it, literally, to function.

It was only a matter of time before this strayed into plotting my stories as well. As I've not had much time for writing the stories themselves due to a very busy life, I've spent much term-time sorting out the worlds inside my head - especially that of Cumnor, the land where my Aeserion Trilogy takes place.

As of this organisational process, I officially have:

~  Individual documents set aside in the "Character Profiles" file, setting out everything from your generic Roleplay-style Basic Information document, right down to their personal quirks and habits. I've even got a document for "Cannon Fodder" - all those poor minor characters whom I will have around for a few chapters, then mercilessly maim and destroy for my own amuse- sorry, for the sake of the plot.

I'm contemplating renaming the document "The Redshirt Chronicles".

~ Documents set aside in the "Aeserion Background" folder, denoting the history of the two countries - from the arrival of the missionaries who brought the country it's triumvirate of goddesses, right through the civil wars, trade crises and economic whoopsies and horrific manglings of language that lead to the start of the Errion-Skathain war. And lots more carnage after that too.

~ A special timeline thingymajig from Cathryn Leigh, which has helped solve my chronic timing problems. Now, when I make Florien ride from the north to the south of the country, I can at least know how long it would take, and dole out saddle sores accordingly.

~ A truly magnificent map of the country - again by the wonderful Cathryn Leigh - so I can tell exactly where the other countries that I reference are geographically, as well as seeking out appropriate rivers to drop my unfortunate heroes in.

But what is this - I have no plot outline? Surely I must have just missed it off the list - a terrible control freak like me cannot have overlooked such a crucial article in her attempt to micromanage absolutely everything to the extent it will one day drive her insane and she'll end up locked up in a single room in a mental asylum bouncing around trying to categorise the padding on the walls of her cell?

On that front, I will say just this.

The plot bunny. It 'sploded.


  1. You tried cooking it didn't you; the plot bunny? Did you put it in the microwave skin and all? You really ought to know better. :}

    Speaking of the map, (gosh I was mentioned twice *blush*) have you added any features to it, more than what you gave me in your sketch? I'm planning on doing some more work on it. Finally got those pesky Islands where I wanted them...

    Funny how our characters made us put them on the same planet eh? :}

    1. I haven't touched the map in a while - been a bit distracted by revision and all, so hte world is kinda neglected (Bad Spook!) but ... when I get back to it, I may do, though I reallly do love it just the way it is.

      And no, I didnt put hte bunny in the microwave ... not at all .... xP

  2. Haha, punctuation and my poetry are NOT friends. As you have noticed. Commas? What are these things you speak of?

    I am not one for organising. I have a schedule worked out in my head and if people mess it up, I will get irritated. However, if I mess it up voluntarily, that's okay. My novels, I forget who people are and stuff, don't bother with that - isn't that what editors are for?

    1. Hehe, I'm just a bit OCD about organisation - in all senses of the word. Blame my father and a military upbringing. If i wasn't organised, I'd lose everything I owned in a move. Not htaht I don't lose a lot of things anyway, and never the creepy Furby thingies I WANT to lose either! xD

      As for your poetry .. I don't mind it so much in other people. It's in my own work that I get REALLY tetchy xD

  3. I'm a bit of a hypocrite when it comes to grammar. From what I know of correct grammar, I'm as critical as physically and mentally possible of bad grammar. Unfortunately, my knowledge of grammar rules is so insignificant, since it is gleaned from what I read, that I'm sure I break a lot of rules, no matter how hard I try to write correctly. The same goes for my vocabulary as well, I think.

    1. Hehe, I'm such a weirdo about it that I took the pains of teaching myself grammar rules so I'd know how to use them properly. Though reading a lot really helps imrpove both grammar and vocabulary - I'm livnig proof of that. Bloomin' walking dictionary according to my friends - and used like one!

      Thankfully grammar has a wee bit of leeway in terms of different strategies working in differetn places, so your grasp of it needn't be absolutely spot-on perfect all the time. Some of the more complicated constructions are just too irritating to use, and simpler grammar is easier for a reader to follow anyway. I probably over-use grammar, but hey ho, any future editors I pick up will hopefully help me with that :P

      Thanks for commenting too! :D

    2. Sneak attack of the Literary-Dyslexia Ninja Dragons there, yes? Bloomin' walking dictionary indeed. Sorry, I thought you were joking.

      Anyway, I'm planning on becoming an Englishman soon, so I might have to touch up on my grammar, semantics and syntax.

      What ho for "what ho", eh? Commenting is no problem.

    3. Hehe, it was midnight. I couldn't see the keys, and I had hair-fluff all over my face. I have been suitable chastised by whacking my head on the ceiling this morning xD

      Planning on becoming and Englishman? As in the nationality, or some confusing phraseology regarding an English course or profession? *is confused*

      Still, I'm glad you have. Comments make me happy :)

    4. Oh. Well. Now, I understand.

      I am planning-- or actually, one of my characters is planning on becoming English (the nationality) for a short time. I'd rather just pick up a Welsh accent. Unfortunately, I'm leaning more toward Canadian than Welsh currently.

      Moi aussi. Comments are even more therapeutic than little squishy dragons. Less so than writing, but more than dragons.

    5. Note: I sleep in the top bunk of a bunk bed in a low-ceilinged house. I didn't just climb up and hit my head on the ceiling for your amusement, honest! xD

      Hehe, close enough! If you try hard enough all accents end up in Wales ... though mine don't. I end up with this bizarre Hobbit-meets-drunken-Scotsman combination. 'Tis weird :P

      Indeed. Little squishy dragons, unlike comments, have the nasty side-effect of trying to bite your fingers off every now and again. I would know - there's one in my bed!

    6. I had my share of that too, but that was during my time as a truncated version of myself. Thus, I was short enough that even when I sat up at such a speed that could potentially decapitate any lesser being, my head stayed stuck fast to my shoulders. I'm still trying to figure out if that's a good thing or not.

      I love the Scottish too... Come to think of it, I like all accents that originate from the UK. Except ones that lend themselves abnormally well to insulting me.

      Of course, some comments also have been known to do that-- bite your fingers off and sit on your bed, both. Nevertheless, they're quite the pick-me-ups. (Hint, hint...)

    7. Hehe, British accents are awesome. I know because I have one xD

      LOL! xD

    8. There was a time when I had no idea what "xD" meant. Now that I do know what it means, I avoid it as much as possible. Another one of those correctness quirks. Every time I use any type of expression like that, I apologize immediately and bind anyone nearby under oath not to tell anyone.

    9. Hehe, another of my ironic discrepencies - I don't mind emoticons. Probably because I always worry people will take me seriously unless I show them I'm teasing, or attempting to be funny. That's probably not a good omen for my communication skills, is it? :P

    10. I just dislike things that are scattered with emoticons, as you call them :) They take the place of periods and often have no visible face implied o.0 Indeed, all they do is clutter up your sentences :D My hatred for them is on par with my hatred of the condensed language ;) TTYL, BTW, and the like ^.^ Of course, as a joke, I'll add emoticons and condensed vocabulary ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
      BTW, it would help me and other WordPress users a lot if you would open commenting for the Name/URL option xD That way I could sign my comments (which you love so much, nudge, nudge) with my true title, as I do on other blogs with that option :/

    11. I concur to some point - overuse of contractions and emoticons really make reading a three-line comment an incredibly difficult endeavour. One or two never really hurt, though, a mon avis.

      Sure! I'll whizz on over and fix that now - sorry about that. I thought I HAD changed that *is confused*.

    12. Indeed, but I have found it beneficial to build up my reputation as a correctness fanatic (as mentioned in above comments), and in that profession there is no room for faces in the punctuation, or hidden meanings in jumbled letters. I prefer to stay aloof.

      Danke mein Freund. It is good to be known under my own title again.

    13. Bitte, 'tis not a problem :)

  4. Hey! You sound like me! Super organized piles of junk for the win! Wait, isn't that an oxymoron? :P

    And yes, my poetry... and anyone else's poetry I'm going to enjoy, should at least be properly formatted and grammaticalized, have some sort of meter, and not go bouncing all over the page. Oh, and preferably rhyme.


    Is NOT poetry :P

    Cheering your Super-organizing on!

    1. Yeeee! *enthusiastic hugs* You understand me! xD

  5. Poetry is not my forte, but I do prefer poetry that is disjointed. No capitals, comma-less, sans periods. I don't know why. Don't ask.

    Having said that, I do appreciate good punctuation. My entire body convulses every time I read the mis-use of your/you're and there/their. Did these people sleep through elementary school? How did they graduate? It's not just teens. It's adults, too. Adults who should know better.


    1. Tell me about it - I once told a shop manager that his signs shouldn't have apostrophe's in the "men's" and "kid's" section of his shop. I came back a month later and the signs had been replaced, apparently no one had ever noticed before.

      I don't know how long I can go on living on this planet xP

  6. Oh, the poor neglected comma! I'm a grammar Nazi too, though somewhat less so than you, I think. The writing style I use breaks the rules quite a bit. Mostly it likes to start sentences with conjunctions. It's weird.

    I did just the opposite with my NaNoWriMo novel. I planed out the plot, and that was it. Of course, I didn't know enough about my characters (which is ironic since I invented them about 4 years ago) so the plot is all fuzzy now. Now I know better, and the next time it won't be so bad.

    1. Hehe, for NaNo I plot, but everthing else ... well, I shouldn't bother any more, the plot never complies with me anyway. It always goes in directions I never saw coming xP

      Thanks for the comment :)

  7. Poor plot bunny...

    Also, you may want to check out my latest blog post. Where I announce a winner of something. Just sayin.... :)

    1. *rabbit-in-headlights expression* .... FOR NARNIAAAA! *charges off to chase post*

  8. I agree, Charley. Completely. I can't stand bad grammar/spelling/punctuation! Text speak is a mortal enemy of mine - it mangles the English language! And it's SO difficult to understand. You read it in your head and it's all disjointed. Real English flows - it was meant to be understood! STOP MAIMING IT, PEOPLE!

    And there are so many different kinds of annoying grammar-maiming. I dislike them all.

    Also, I love that you corrected a newspaper AND a store manager. Priceless. xD

    Your organization when it comes to your novel/trilogy is impressive - coming from a fellow neat freak, I think it's fantastic! It's like a reference book for EVERYTHING and EVERYONE in your world. Fabulously useful. :) Too bad about the plot bunny, though...