Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Suck At This, Alton Brown

I'm NaNoWriming tonight, but needed a quick break, so I thought I would share a quick confession.  I really have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to basic narrative style.  I don't know why I'm breaking paragraphs where I am, or if I'm using Jane said versus said Jane correctly.  I feel like I'm making up the rules of dialog-specific capitalization and punctuation as I go along.  Did Jane say, "hello, how are you?" or is was it, "'Hello, how are you?' asked Jane," or both, or neither?

This doesn't alarm me.  I can easily look this stuff up (in December) or just look at, you know, a book (in December.)  But it's funny, because I read a lot.  I've even read skimmed Strunk & White.  How is it I never really noticed this stuff?

I should say I've written a lot too, though technical documentation doesn't involve a great deal of dialog or narration. Or style.

Anyway, it's made me think of Alton Brown.  Do you ever watch Good Eats?  I love that show, but all the details have made me a terribly insecure cook.  Cooking and writing are two of those things you can more or less know how to do without knowing how you know, until you think about it too much.


  1. Addendum Confession: I often use an apostrophe to incorrectly pluralize word's [sic]. This is a terrible habit learned in techieland, where a term like TLA has a completely different meaning than TLAS or TLAs, so TLA's is a common-usage pluralization. Still, it's embarassing.

  2. My spelling suffers from a similar problem: I tend to use French spelling if I don't think about it, e.g. responsablity. Thank goodness for spell checkers! It's a pity they don't pick up techie plurals.

    I thought I knew how to write until I started doing it. "Self Editing for Fiction Writers" is my bible - but not while I'm doing the first draft.