I recently acquired the book Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer from a discount store. This edition is “Adapted for Young Readers” and I will add new/young writers. While recommended for writers 10-15 years old, this 67 year old, found it to be a fun, educational, and informative reference.
Consisting mostly of short examples, it is very easy to follow. Similar items are grouped together. The book is organized into two parts. The first part covers daily topics such as: When should I use a colon? Is that comma in the right place? Should I write out the number 34? And, do I really need to use the word really in my writing?
Part too includes homonyms that you often sea in the wrong place. There is a section on words that are easily confused. These can effect, or is it affect your writing quiet, or is it quite a bit. Again, most of the page space is taken up by clear examples.
I am so happy I stumbled upon this book. If you can’t find one at a discount price, the Kindle version is only $6.99. If you are intimidated by reading a book that targets young people, you can get Dreyer’s English (for grown ups) as well. I plan to use my copy on a regular basis.
For every interest, there is a conference. As my interest is writing Christian Romance, I virtually attended the Colorado Christian Writers Conference last week. Since my interest is fiction, I attended “Building Rock-Solid Fiction” presented by Tim Shoemaker. https://www.timshoemakersmashedtomatoes.com/
Tim is an accomplished writer and speaker and the marriage of those two strengths came alive in this workshop. When I started writing about a year and a half ago, I had a lifetime of experience researching topics and writing essays that nobody read. My desire to write Christian Romance came from reading the Orchard Hill Church series by Susan M. Baganz. (https://susanbaganz.com) Susan is a dear friend from my time living in Wisconsin. I was unaware that she had become a published author.
I think it was a Facebook post that convinced me to look at her writing. She writes in two genres: Christian Romance and Gothic Regency. I confess the Gothic Regency is not my style, but I became immersed in the book PESTO & POTHOLES. I believe she has six books written in this series now, all available on Amazon.
What prompted me to start writing was the very end of PESTO & POTHOLES where we learn that the heroine has given birth to twin daughters. I thought, what would happen when these twin daughters grew up. And what seemed would be more exciting was if they were identical twins.
I wrote chapters all the way back to when they were six years old. They were good action chapters. They were funny chapters. They were useless chapters I came to learn when I took the fiction writing class that Susan taught at last year’s conference.
I needed immediate action to draw the reader’s attention. I decided to start with high school. How would their “twinness” affect their relationships? What would their romances look like? When I looked at Susan’s time frame for PESTO & POTHOLES and added 16 years, I came up with the year 2026.
That presented a bit of a challenge. It isn’t that far in the future, but as I quickly learned, my personal experience in high school (back before electricity, just kidding) was different in many ways from today’s experience. Fortunately, the story’s location is where I grew up in Wisconsin so I could figure out the streets and towns easily enough.
I also learned that to capture a reader’s interest, the first 100 words of a story are crucial. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. I had a few contacts from the first conference that helped review it and I got much closer. But as it turned out, what I ended up with worked very well for a 25th-century Sci-Fi novel. Start over.
To give you an idea of where my first novel currently sits, I have saved a draft that has 50,000 words, in 35 chapters. Compared to Susan’s work that’s a little long, so I don’t feel bad splitting it up. Unlike her book series which has new main characters in each book, mine will follow the same sisters.
This conference has given me much more work to do in the body of the book and (don’t tell anyone) I am cutting out all of the ending chapters. But I have plans for that part of the story. It is still good stuff and has some very exciting moments, just not for the first book. Let me provide you with the snippet that starts my book.
Please comment and answer Rochelle’s question at the end of the snippet below. I look forward to hearing from you.
August 2026 The bus ride to school was short but bumpy. Rochelle sat quietly next to her twin sister, Rosalinda, trying not to fall off the edge of her seat. She noticed the boys traveling with them. Their commotion added to her anxiety. The vehicle stopped and the passengers formed a line to disembark. Once outside, Rochelle and her sister moved as one, the pressing horde pushing them forward. Stepping inside the building, Rochelle’s heart beat faster. A subtle pungency from them filled her nostrils. There was such a variety compared to her last school. All shapes, sizes, and colors. Her palms grew damp. The possibilities intrigued her. They all looked like men, not boys. Welcome to public high school. “Rosa, what do you see all around us?” “You mean the mass of humanity?” “No, silly. All the boys. Imagine the possibilities.” “Right, like getting distracted. But that’s not what you mean, is it?” “Of course not. I’m talking about meaningful relationships. You should be thinking the same. We didn’t have a chance to interact much with boys at our last school. Everything was too proper in the Christian school. Now the prospects are endless. What should we do first?”