the beast in your writing

Did you know somewhere inside that gorgeous poem or story you just finished lurks a seething, unpredictable animal?

Yes, grammar is an intimidating monster. I blame English textbooks. The instruction I received made it seem like all grammar rules were clear cut, and failure to adhere to those (many and tedious) rules banished your writing to a purgatory of readership. And so it will be. Amen.

Nah. It isn’t all that serious, if you ask me. Grammar is a tool to ensure your written ideas are presented to your reader in an understandable way. If your reader gets your drift across without the reader having to stop and figure it out, then is grammar necessary? Wouldn’t most readers just chalk up a misplaced modifier to a stylistic choice if they notice it at all? To support my point, here’s a quick grammar test for you:

__________ (Who, Whom) do you think they’ll name as prom king tonight?

The correct answer is Whom. How do I know? Answer the question using he (the nominative case, if we’re being technical) or him (the objective case). I think they’ll name him. Objective. The objective form of who is whom (To keep it straight, I remember that both the objective forms of he and who end with the letter m). Here’s another:

Senator Squarepants is ________(who, whom) we want to nominate.

Reply to the sentence with the phrase after the empty line using he or him. We want to nominate…

But would your meaning be unclear if you used who in either sentence?

Nope. To my mind, and most other people’s based on the lack of use of the word, the who/whom question is not worth sweating over in most scenarios. It isn’t going to affect your clarity. The tricky part about all of this, though, is the knowing when your grammar is getting in the way of your clarity, and that I will talk about later, if you’re interested. Drop a comment to this post if you’d like more on grammar and copyediting.

As for this week’s fiction|poetry grid, please remember to read the submission guidelines before you press post or hit send. Have a favorite yeah writer or two? Why not ask them to be your writing partner? Everyone needs another set of eyes to point out the typos, word repetitions, content errors, and ungainly phraseologies in our posts.

Stay in the know: sign up for our mailer today! We promise not to spam you. Or stop by the coffeehouse and meet some of the people behind the words! Also, you’re going to want to check out this month’s nonfiction know-how on making connections with your writing and the new poetry slam about couplets.

Prompt Up!

Prompt Up is our optional weekly writing prompt for the fiction|poetry challenge! Here’s how it works: we choose a sentence prompt from last week’s winning nonfiction post and announce it in the kickoff. It’s your job to use that prompt in your poem or story and then run with it. The prompt is just a springboard, though: feel free to use it as your first sentence, move it, change it, or float down it to other territories.

Lisa showed us how addiction controlled her day at camp with her son in her post The Corner Where Shame Meets Pain. This week’s prompt taken from her essay is: “An old fan in the corner, blades caked in dust, is blowing on me.”

Yeah write #301 fiction|poetry writing challenge is open for submissions!

Basic yeah write guidelines: 750 word limit; your entry can be dated no earlier than this past Sunday; fiction or poetry only.

How to submit and fully participate in the challenge:

  1. In the sidebar of this week’s post, please grab the code beneath the challenge grid badge and paste it into the HTML view of your entry
  2. Follow the InLinkz instructions after clicking “add your link” to upload your entry to this week’s challenge grid
  3. Your entry should appear immediately on the grid if you don’t receive an error message
  4. Please make the rounds to read all the entries in this week’s challenge
  5. Consider turning off moderated comments and CAPTCHA on your own blog

Submissions for this week’s challenges will close on Wednesday at 10pm ET. Voting will then open immediately thereafter and close on Thursday at 10pm ET. The winners, as always, will be celebrated on Friday.

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