Breaking the Rules

Strunk & WhiteAs much as we sometimes pretend we don’t, we love rules. Even the most maverick of writers is receptive to those clever, memorable guidelines, if only to know what to kick against. And the reality is that rules for writing—as for life, let’s face it—are not only abundant but are bewilderingly contradictory.

See, the thing about rules for writing is that, kind of like a yin-yang symbol, they always contain cute little seeds of their exact opposites. Witness the exhortations—from such authoritative guides as Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style and George Orwell’s Politics and the English Language—to err on the side of simplicity, to avoid in particular the pretensions of Latin- and Greek-based language in favour of good old Anglo-Saxon English (put simply and memorably: “avoid fancy words”). Plain common sense advice about plain common sense English, right? Well, yes and no. Outside the secret and no-doubt sordid fantasies of botanists everywhere, Orwell’s example of a snapdragon is still in no danger of being superseded by antirrhinum almost seventy years after he expressed his reservations. Similarly, ameliorate and clandestine have their place, even if we are more often inclined to use help and secret. Continue reading “Breaking the Rules”

Watch That S#!t

Mostly for the benefit of our new readers and commenters, but also in the way of a gentle reminder to those of you who have been following a while, Indies Unlimited is a family-friendly, PG-13 type site. That doesn’t mean there is no suggestion of naughtiness, but it is important not to have the landscape cratered by F-bombs.

The vast preponderance of people who post and comment here are writers, but there are others as well. Writers tend sometimes to be dark, edgy people who may be prone from time to time to utter words such as those you may have heard your Dad say when he dropped a hammer on his toe, or got cut off in traffic, or saw your report card.

I am no paragon in this regard. I do make an effort to be sufficiently creative in my communication as to avoid the use of words or terms that might give offense to those with delicate sensibilities. I don’t always hit the mark. None of us is perfect. Neither am I suggesting we have to resort to dang, shoot, heck, or golly-gee. There is a middle ground.

I do ask that commenters try to be more artful in their expression than to simply rely on profane or abusive words. These words are crutches anyway—shorthand for a more expansive and fulsome expression of thought. On the whole, everyone here has comported themselves with a commendable sense of decorum. There have been very few exceptions. I do not wish to be cast in the role of a censor.

So, I’m just saying as nicely as I know how, “Let’s watch the potty-mouth.”

Why I Write, by Linda Rae Blair

I remember the first time I was asked that question. It was during an interview and I thought to myself…now that’s a silly question! Looking back on it now, I don’t think so.

When I approached retirement, I thought how lovely it would be to paint landscapes, practice the piano, garden–I even bought a sewing machine so I could be creative that way, as I had been when I was a young mother. Then it happened! That simple statement from a friend that brought my whole idea of retirement crashing down around me.

If you’ve read “Where is Harry?”, my first novel and part 1 of my Chicago Trilogy, “Intersections: Love, Betrayal, Murder”, you know some of this already. Here’s the whole story! Continue reading “Why I Write, by Linda Rae Blair”

Week 6 Writing Exercise Winner

Today we’re pleased to announce the winner of the sixth weekly Writing Exercise competition at Indies Unlimited.

The winning entry is rewarded with a special feature here today (which is so cool, words can’t even describe it), and a place in our collection of winners which will be published as an e-book at year end.

The 9 entrants received a total of 85 votes. With 64% of those, the winner is: Contestant #8– Bob Lock.

Congratulations to Bob, and thanks to everyone who participated – excellent entries! Now, without further ado, (release doves) here’s the winning entry: Continue reading “Week 6 Writing Exercise Winner”