You may not know this, but I find grammar and punctuation – and all things related to these – fascinating. Take me out to dinner, drop your opinion about ellipses or Oxford commas, and I’ll talk your ear off. Today I’m going to piggy-back a bit on the kickoff post this week to recommend we all take a look at hyphens and dashes. Not so much because I want to pick nits, but because I really did go down a rabbit-hole last week and I figured I’d share my exciting discoveries! (Yes, you may laugh.)
When we write microstories, we’re all looking for ways to say as much as we can with as few words as possible, right? One way we can do this is to combine words in unusual ways, creating phrases that hold more meaning in their sum than in their parts. Jennifer Knoblock at Graceful Press Poetry is a master at this – take a look at her poems if you haven’t seen it before.
Here are a couple of things I learned that I think are particularly relevant to microstories:
- Generally, hyphenate two or more words when they come before a noun they modify and act as a single idea. This is called a compound adjective.
- When writing out new, original, or unusual compound nouns, writers should hyphenate whenever doing so avoids confusion.
- Never hesitate to add a hyphen if it solves a possible problem. Following are two examples of well-advised hyphens.
- As important as hyphens are to clear writing, they can become an annoyance if overused. Avoid adding hyphens when the meaning is clear. Many phrases are so familiar (e.g., high school, twentieth century, one hundred percent) that they can go before a noun without risk of confusing the reader.
Answer the ultimate question in exactly 42 words: how hot is it?
This week’s question requires only one thing for a good answer: heat, literal or metaphorical. Hot potatoes, hot asphalt, hot commodities, hot sex – it’s all good. Please note that the verb tense of the answer should match the verb tense of the question. We don’t care about yesterday or tomorrow; we want to know how hot it is right now.
A few other reminders:
PROOFREAD. Nothing is easier, and nothing will get you bumped from the voting grid faster than typos, spelling or punctuation mistakes, or grammatical errors. You’ve only got 42 words; mistakes stick out.
Keep in mind that your post has to make sense if your reader doesn’t know the question. Don’t use the question as your title or anywhere else in your piece. And remember, any words surrounding your gargleblaster — explanations, references, footnotes, shout-outs, etc. — will be counted against your 42-word limit.
The top 42 entries will be open for voting on Thursday
You may enter only one gargleblaster microstory. This summer, all our grids are unmoderated, which means up to 42 submissions meeting the basic guidelines will be open to Thursday’s popular vote. Everybody: read, comment, vote!
Winners will be announced on Friday
Look for Friday’s combined winners’ post to see the crowd favorites and editors’ picks from across all of our challenge grids.
What else is happening around here?
We’ve got the nonfiction grid opening on Mondays, the speakeasy for fiction and poetry on Tuesdays, the gargleblaster micro challenge on Wednesdays, and the come-one, come-all moonshine grid for the weekends. We’ve also got a great hangout space over at the coffeehouse. Make sure you subscribe to our weekly e-mail blast so you don’t miss out.
yeah write #221 micro weekly writing challenge is open for submissions
Basic microstory guidelines: 42 word count limit; must be an answer to the week’s ultimate question found in the introductory post; your entry can be dated no earlier than this past Sunday; nonfiction, fiction, haiku, whatever, told in exactly 42 words.
How to submit and fully participate in the challenge:
- In the sidebar of this week’s post, please grab the code beneath the micro badge and paste it into the HTML view of your entry
- Follow the Inlinkz instructions after clicking “add your link” to upload your entry to this week’s challenge grid
- Your entry should appear immediately on the grid if you don’t receive an error message
- Please make the rounds to read all the entries in this week’s challenge
- Consider turning off moderated comments and CAPTCHA on your own blog
This summer, all our grids are unmoderated which means submissions meeting the basic guidelines will be published Thursday on yeah write. Those entries will be open to a popular vote with the winner celebrated on Friday.
Thank you for sharing with us your hard work! Good luck in the challenge…