Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Word Processors

Last week a reader mentioned word processors. I consider them a blessing and a nuisance, moreso the blessing. Okay, I have a love/hate relationship with my word processor.

Why? Simple.

A word processor allows me to type in cyberspace rather than on a sheet of paper. Remember -- for those old enough -- back to the days of a typewriter and the silly typing eraser with the mini whiskbroom? You made a typo and then you needed to fix it. The damage caused by the stupid ink eraser scratching away the paper... and then the broom to brush away the itty-bitty wads of paper... yuck!

IF the paper was still in the typewriter, it was somewhat easier. IF you'd removed it THEN found the mistake, well, it was more difficult. It was especially true if you had to squeeze two letters into the space of one. But, thanks to my typing instructor back in high school, I was able to do that. Learning the skill made my job much easier when I was in the Navy. {Short digress follows}

I was lucky enough to be part of a crew for a new ship -- yes, I commissioned a ship. Anyway, as the Engineering Yeoman, my duty during our cruise from Boston, MA to Long Beach, CA was to type up all the pages of the 6-10 manuals, duplicate and compilate. I had a case of those blue mimeograph sheets, bottles of blue fix-it for typos, one IBM Selectric typewriter and hours of fun. The manuals were completed on time.

Thinking back of how much easier it would have been to create all of them in cyberspace. [sigh]

Anyway, I have used manual typewriters, electric typewriters, Atari computers, Epson CP/M computers, IBM computers and a large selection of generic PCs over the years to create my stories and novels. Each year and each computer was just a wee bit smarter than the last and the word processors improved also.

Then came SpellCheck. I was in heaven. I was a Spelling Bee competitor and did very well so it was never really an issue for me. But, wow, a spell checker. How cool!

I love a word processor on the computer. Speed... Ease... Yes, it is LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.

Remember last week's entry? Their isn't an our goes buy eye don't think the spell chequer can't help me with my spelling.

The above sentence is correct according to almost every spell checker. All the words are spelled correctly.

Hence, my hate position with a word processor. And that isn't the only reason. Ever try to get it to spell the word correctly?

I mean, if you don't know how to spell it? Just like the dictionary -- the touchy-feely book version -- you can open it up and look up and down the pages. If you don't know how to spell the word, at least you have some idea of how it starts to get you on the correct page. Flipping pages of a book dictionary and you can find the correct spelling. With a word processor, you might as well beat your head on the desk until the correct spelling comes to mind. psychosis. Start spelling it incorrectly and you will be lost forever in the spell check work processing game.

So, what am I saying here today? Word processors are a great thing. They are marvelous, wonderful, and like everything else in this world -- they carry a danger load. Be very careful of misspelled words as decided by your word processor. Especially if the spell checker lets you add words. If you don't have the strange, new word spelled correctly, well, it isn't going to help. My character -- D'Lernia-Ha -- kept showing as incorrect, and well it should have. I decided to add it and other characters to 'my' dictionary. Unfortunately I didn't look closely at the selection when I added it and the name still kept appearing as incorrect. In anger, I highlighted and entered it again. Suddenly, all of the misspells disappeared. What I didn't see -- until I sent it out to an editor -- was all the secondary spellings I had. Seems the first entry was D'Lenria-Ha, not good. Her twin brother's name was D'Lonria-Ha ... so for the editor it was 'did he misspell D'Lonria or D'Lernia' ... a good question, indeed.

Yes, I definitely have a love/hate relationship with my word processor.

Do you like your word processor? Which one do you use? I use WordPerfect 99% of the time.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ewe No ...

What if wii awl used the wrong word too right what wii wanted two say?

The English language is a complicated one. We speak the words and everyone knows -- for the most part -- what we're saying.

But, when we start to put those same words to paper, a mystical thing happens.

Whee sensor ourselves. Witch word due wii put too paper? Sew, threw trial and airer sometimes we make the write choice, sometimes knot.

I want to make a list of homophones -- u no witch wons eye am talking about.

Don't let the big word fool you -- it means: sounds the same, different spelling and meaning. A homonym, on the other hand, is spelled the same with different meanings, sometimes sounding alike, sometimes not. Ex: Sewer: drain Sewer: tailor OR Row: in a boat Row: to plant in.

I offer the following homophones; please add to the list. You might even know another sounding word to add to my list. I bet we can find over a 100 different same sounding words... I've already got the list over 20% of the way there.

one, won
two, to, two
for, four
which, witch
sensor, censor
ford, fjord
serial, cereal
threw, through
read, red
read, reed
new, knew
no, know
dew, due, do
sew, so
your, yore
or, oar
lie, lye
by, bye
some, sum
flour, flower
toed, toad, towed
passed, past

This is a great exercise for every writer. I know I've used the wrong word at times and I have even seen the wrong word in published books which made me stop and think or laugh, depending on the context.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Another Box

Today I want to take the Corner Philosophy and run in another direction with it.

Description. Let's look at the four corners.

When you write, exactly how do you describe your scene? Terse? Flowery? Barren? Detailed?

Let me show you some examples...

Terse: Beth stomped down the street revealing to everyone she was mad.

Flowery: Beth, with the wind blowing her long russet tresses in all directions, stomped the stilettoes with a sharp clicking sound on the concrete walk, revealing to every stranger passing by she more than angry, she was venemous.

Barren: Beth moved down the street; she was mad.

Detailed: Beth, a young wisp of a lady, barely twenty-one, brushed back the long, windswept, russet tresses of hair with a quick snap of her hand, never once losing a clicking stride in her glossy, black stilettoes on the gray cement walk, screaming to every passing stranger her ranting feverous, venom laced outbursts of anger.


Which corner do you see yourself lurking in? How would you describe your 'descriptive' writing method?

Please share your thoughts.