How to Write Dialogue -- Jerz's Literacy Weblog

Writing Effective Dialogue (Punctuation and Actions in Creative Writing)

“Punctuating dialogue properly is important,” says the old man, “But actions speak loudly, too. When I offered you tea, and you unlaced your boots at my hearth, we didn’t need any words stating that there was a comfortable lull in our conversation. The careful placement of details created a little pause. It was a good example of showing rather than telling.”

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I can probably remove that link to Lycos

On a web page that I posted in Nov 2000 (on a confusing presidential election ballot that caused controversy in Palm Beach), I included a link to Lycos, a has-been search engine wanna-be, which at the time must have had a convenient way to track backlinks. I haven’t even thought of Lycos for years. The link was broken anyway. While looking up the company just now, I learned it was…

What Could Have Entered the Public Domain in 2015

What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2015?

If the pre-1978 laws were still in effect, we could have seen 85% of the works published in 1986 enter the public domain on January 1, 2015. Imagine what that would mean to our archives, our libraries, our schools and our culture. Such works could be digitized, preserved, and made available for education, for research, for future creators. Instead, they will remain under copyright for decades to come, perhaps even…

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Split Infinitives in English: Not Actually Wrong, But Unwise

The rule against split infinitives is a bookish restriction serving no real function in English. However, many people have memorized the “no split infinitives” rule and take it very seriously. It’s best never to split infinitives (unless you want to really emphasize the risk you are taking). More: Split Infinitives in English: Not Actually Wrong, But Unwise.

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Does the phrase “based off of” make you shudder… or shrug?

When I first started noticing the phrase “based off of” in student papers, I thought it was just a careless typo. But I’ve noticed it more and more in online writing and in casual speech.

Saying “based off of” may be related to the phrase “flying of off,” as it seems to mean something like “is now different from, but was once more obviously similar to.” By contrast, “based on” may be taking on the meaning “still directly connected to.”

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Fascinating example of new media journalism: a graphic novel investigative report. The content is noteworthy, too: our lives have already changed now that we regularly give away our privacy in return for various benefits (lower prices, connection to friends). The corporations who use our data benefit more than we do, and many of us now feel we have no choice. Al Jazeera America.