Comma butterfly
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Sentences of Tumblr and Twitter

Did you see this piece on Medium the other day?

I think the way language evolves is so interesting, and it’s part of what keeps my job fun. Just how far can you push alternate sentence structures or slang before they no longer make sense to readers? Especially when readers are a kind of faceless spectrum from all over the world, of all different ages. At what point do people just think it’s a mistake?

I have been seeing some of these things in novels and commentary online, and when it’s done right, I think it works well. There’s a personality behind the words. But I also think it’s difficult. Too much is overkill, not enough does look like a mistake.

On the flip side, is your Twitter voice different from longer pieces? Should they be the same or can they be different? As I think about this, I’ve realized I have a much harder time letting my voice come out in Twitter than I do in fiction writing, or even in pieces for work. While it may mean I’m just long-winded, I think Twitter feels a lot more personal yet public. And when it’s instantaneous, it’s easier to say something incorrectly. When there is time to edit, it’s easier to let personality shine. Of course, that might be an introvert thing, too.

It’s fun watching the internet change language, seeing grammar geeks arguing about the shifts and actually discussing said shifts among other grammar geeks. We’ve moved beyond LOL and the oxford comma, though that darn comma still remains a sore point for a lot of people. I wonder what the next 10 years are going to look like?

(My search on Flickr for comma displayed all these “Comma” butterflies. Who knew?)

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Have you seen the movie “Nightcrawler” yet? I feel like I’m late to the party, but finally watched it this weekend. I didn’t know anything about it except that it scored high on Rotten Tomatoes and it stars Jake Gyllenhaal. I will watch anything with him in it.

In discussing it with my husband, we both agreed that the name is kind of dumb. While it does make sense (he’s a freelance cameraman, called a nightcrawler because he works at night), Nightcrawler is a character in comic books, so I honestly thought it was a comic book movie. Don’t all male Hollywood actors have a comic book franchise?

So dumb name. However, I still had high hopes for the movie, since it had been so well-liked, and nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. (Yay! An original screenplay instead of a remake or sequel!)

First, Mr. Gyllenhaal needs to eat something. He lost a bunch of weight for the role, and man, he looks ill. It certainly fits the character, but the man already has abnormally large eyes. Sunken cheeks only make that worse. The movie moves along at a relatively good clip, and it’s quickly apparent that Lou, the character Gyllenhall plays, is a sociopath.

OK, spoilers.











By the end of the movie, Lou is carefully orchestrating what is going to happen with an unsolved triple murder, so that he can become a super successful news outfit. It ends with him now having three vans and multiple employees.

Here’s the thing: I feel like there was no character arc for Lou, the main character. He was nuts in the beginning and he remained just as nuts until the end. He manipulates news, he basically has his partner murdered, and he puts criminals in a situation that demands even more death. He had the capacity to do something that terrible at the start, and by the end he does, in fact, do it. So he not only didn’t grow into a better person, but I don’t think he grew into a more evil person, either.

It seems like people really loved this movie—my husband loved it, too—but in the end, I think it was boring and flat. If it’s supposed to be plot-based, you can kind of figure out what is going to happen relatively quickly. If it’s supposed to be character-based, it failed miserably, since I don’t think Lou was more than a one-dimensional sociopath. (And how do you make a sociopath one-dimensional? There’s so much to work with!)

All of that, however, brings up a question—if it were, in fact, supposed to be plot-based, does it matter as much if the main character remains flat? How important is that character arc when the piece is plot driven? And does a character need to grow and change in order for the story to be interesting, engaging, good? I happen to think so, but so many people liked this movie. It makes me feel like either characters don’t have to change or I completely missed something.


Craftsman home
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New neighbors

The house across the street from us sold after barely a week on the market. It’s the second time a house on our block has gone up for sale, and it’s the second time I’ve been sitting at the front window, looking out and wondering who the new neighbors will be.

Even after more than a year, I haven’t ever met the first set of new neighbors. They’re really never outside, and haven’t come to any neighborhood parties. So I hope the new people are a bit more friendly. But not meeting the first set means I get to make up all kinds of stories: They moved to Seattle from Bellevue as some sort of mid-life crisis; he is some kind of VP but now spends more time cycling, golfing and drinking beer than actually working; she splits her time between a job in the arts and volunteer work; her VW Beetle convertible was a gift after her husband screwed up big time … and on and on.

I find myself making up backstories for all kinds of people. Those that catch my attention on the street, a dressing room monitor working in a retail store, the woman that packs our groceries every week … some days, everyone gets a story. I love exercising my backstory muscles—I end up with a library to pull from, or completely deviate from. The wild-haired woman automatically becomes the flighty woman; the immaculately dressed middle-aged man is always a hot-shot in business. But what if that guy was actually a carefree potter, only in a suit because his mother suggested he wear it to a gallery meeting? Plus, these short little stories work well if I need someone in the background for a one-time appearance.

As for the new neighbors, without knowing who bought the house, I already have a couple of stories rattling around my head. Mostly, I hope they’re friendly.

Floating balloons
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National Grammar Day

Happy (belated) National Grammar Day! I’d forgotten it was on March 4 until I scrolled through my Twitter feed that morning. Good ol’ Twitter, keeping me informed about very important holidays.

My two favorite grammar-related links from the day:


Cherry blossom tree
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Around the internets: February edition

Why is it that there are only two fewer days in February, yet the month seems to lose an entire week?

• Some great writers at this conference.
This is a neat way to find new authors.
Going for the jugular.
• Is Lady Mary a sociopath? (Nothing to do with writing, this one just made me laugh.)
• Loved this piece.
• This site always has fun desktop images, but these are some of my favorites.
• Do you listen to any of these?