The Problem With Sentence Fragments.

I’ve read a couple of books lately that have been rather good, although plagued with something that is becoming the bane of my life as a reader: sentence fragments. 

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Words and Phrases

 

I’ve read a couple of books lately that have been rather good, although plagued with something that is becoming the bane of my life as a reader: sentence fragments.

There was one book I started reading a couple of weeks ago where this was rampant, along with other issues, to the point where I couldn’t continue.

A sentence fragment is something that presents as a sentence in that it starts with a capital letter and ends with a period, but doesn’t actually make sense on its own.

A sentence fragment is often added as an afterthought when it really should be tacked onto the previous sentence with either a comma or a semicolon.

Consider the following example:

Jack went into his bedroom and closed the door, preferring privacy for reading his new book. Which was something that he knew annoyed his little brother.

 

That last sentence fragment actually makes no sense without the previous sentence.

If this happens just once or twice in a book, it’s still too often. However, it happens a lot. To be completely honest, it’s something I mark my senior high school English students down on. It’s what I consider quite a basic error: it’s not that hard to read something you’ve written down and ask yourself if it makes sense.

I understand that some readers don’t notice it, but many others will find it very frustrating indeed.

The exception is in direct speech or train of thought writing. People do speak like that, and they often think in fragments of thoughts, especially when under stress or in pain. If it’s something a character is thinking or saying, there is no problem. When it is part of the narrative, however, it really is an issue.

I don’t want to come across as being all finicky and fussy. My intention is that writers might recognise and self-correct this problem in their writing, even if it means  revising an entire manuscript so that their book reads better.

This is also another argument for having any manuscript thoroughly proof-read and edited before you publish anything, especially as an Indie author who wants to be taken seriously as a writer.

In the end it will earn you more stars and more readers.

When your story is great, and your message is important, please don’t allow something that is easily fixed to compromise the success of your book.

Instead, take the time and effort to make sure that your writing, and the overall quality of your book, is the best it can be. You owe it to your readers, and you owe it to yourself.

 

RIP George Michael et al 2016

“RIP George Michael,
Another favourite gone…”

RIP George Michael,
Another favourite gone.
First Bowie, then Prince and Rickman
And then it was Leonard Cohen.
But Donald Trump is alive and well –
What drug has this year been on?

No-vember Supermoon…

So, there’s supposed to be a supermoon tonight. And my inbox had two email alerts that conditions were great for seeing the southern lights – the Aurora Australis.

In fact, ever since I signed up for those email alerts, it’s been overcast or raining every single time the “conditions have been ideal”.

And true to form, it’s pouring rain tonight. The only thing anyone around here is seeing in the night sky is lots of water.

So, what’s a girl to do?
Write nutty poetry. That’s what.

Just for fun, I wrote this and put it up on Twitter. It had a pretty positive response, so the evening has not been a total flop.

november-supermoon

Love Trumps Hate. 

In the aftermath of the US election, it’s important to remember that there’s anger on both sides. Many, many people in the US, as well as elsewhere, feel marginalised and overlooked. For some, it’s been many years of actually being treated that way. For others, it’s hopes and dreams that have been kept out of reach by social forces that they haven’t been able to change or address. You only have to study a little bit of US history to see those things happening.

I think of this election as a pressure cooker – after a long time on “high”, the thing blew its lid off and left a heck of a mess when it did.

We must remember that people don’t always vote from a perspective of good policy. People vote because they long for a change, they yearn to be heard… or at least to feel as though they have been heard. Sometimes it’s a reaction to something as visceral as revulsion over what one candidate or the other has done or is accused of doing. There was a whole lot of all of that in this election.

This election in itself won’t fix anything. A new president, regardless of identity, is a figurehead. The real problems lie in the structure of the society under that leader. The anger and polarisation of the American society will only get worse while people engage in anger, vilification and distrust – of their leaders, yes, but particularly of each other.

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t hold their government and its actions to account. I’m a very firm believer in doing that. But let’s not destroy each other in the process. Let’s ensure that our commentary is focused on what needs to happen, what needs to change, and how we can work together to achieve that.

Personally, I don’t think either candidate was a good choice for uniting the country, or solving the underlying problems. That has to come from the people, and it starts with one, then two, then more, choosing to build rather than tear down.
I pray for America, and I pray for the world that still looks to her for military and international leadership. I pray for Australia, because we’re guilty of all the same things.

Today, I choose love. I choose encouragement. I choose peace. I choose friendship. I choose positive over negative. I choose proactive over passive.

Will you join me? Will you work to make a difference, too?

Double Disillusion.

So, it’s on.

Australians will head to the polls on July 2nd in an election that will see a “spill and refill” of all the seats in both houses of the Australian Parliament. For those unfamiliar with the Australian political system, this process is called a “double dissolution election”.

I had to laugh, though, when an ABC commentator today commented that “it’s going to be a very long campaign”. Has he not seen what’s going on in America? Months and months of campaigning just to obtain a party’s nomination to run for President, which means even more months of campaigning.

Fact is, I’m very interested in politics, but I don’t like any of the choices, either in America or here in Australia.

Why can’t we have honest, hard-working people who just want to serve their country as candidates for leadership? What happened to the statesman who believed in doing the right thing morally, both individually and as a nation?

Both countries have, in the past, had leaders who stood up for what was right and made vital changes in one way or another. Think of Lincoln standing against slavery, or JFK challenging the people so directly on issues of civil rights. Think of Whitlam putting an end to the White Australia policy. Whether or not one agreed with them, then or now, those men stood up for what they believed was morally correct for their country.

Contrast that with what we see today. People hungry for power, and willing to sell their souls to the devil to get it. “Campaigning” means bludgeoning one another with lies or, at best, insinuations. It’s not about policy or what the people want any more, it’s about being the last man, or woman, standing in a very personal and sometimes excruciating competition.

So often, I watch and listen aghast as they deliver speech after speech full of vitriol. Some speak hatred and intolerance. Some barely have any policies on anything much at all – who am I kidding? Why let policy and standards get in the way of politics? Candidates mock and discredit each other in the false belief that it makes them look better, but it only serves to demean themselves. Muckraking and sledging are no way to win respect. I just don’t understand why more people can’t see through them.

I’m so tired of the modern political game. Give me a candidate I can believe in. Give me policies that don’t involve vilifying or punishing an entire group of people because of the actions of a few. Give me someone I can vote for without killing part of my own soul.

Cardinal Knowledge. 

I’ve been following the Royal Commission into Child Abuse’s questioning of the now-Cardinal George Pell, and his responses, with interest. 

Every day – no, in fact, every time he opens his mouth to speak, my heart sinks a little deeper and my anger grows a little more. 

I’m glad they are asking tough questions. I am glad he is feeling uncomfortable. I hope he feels ashamed, but I doubt he does. I doubt that anyone is surprised that he didnt want to come back to Australia to testify, or to testify at all. 

Straight up, I will say that I am not a victim of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest, nor by anyone else. Having seen how that has affected others and impacted them and their family, I am continually thankful for that. 

I am interested in this Royal
Commission because I care about other people and because I have a strong sense of justice. 

Abuse or exploitation of the vulnerable by the powerful and privileged angers me beyond words.
As a teacher, as an aunt, as a part-time “other mother”… let’s face it, as a decent human being, I cannot comprehend how someone could knowingly and willingly betray the trust of a child.

I struggle to find decent words to describe how I feel about anyone who enables any priest to keep on abusing children by moving them from one parish to another instead of confronting and calling out their evil predation for what it is. That not the sort of thing that should ever be covered up or overlooked.  

As far as I can see, George Pell is either lying or he was the most ignorant, uninformed, forgetful and self-focused guy going round.
Either way, by his own repeated admission, he has to have been absolutely rubbish at his job.

I do not believe anything he says. I’d be very surprised if anyone did.

I do not understamd how the Pope (or any other God-fearing priest, for that matter) could give Pell his support given his testimony this week. 

If these men are serious about being Christ’s representatives on earth, I could make some constructive suggestions as to where they might start. 

You bet!

Am I tired of seeing ads for betting on sporting events every time I turn the TV on to watch the tennis, football, or any other kind of sporting event?  You bet.
Does it make me angry? You bet.

It’s not just that I am completely, totally, and irrevocably uninterested in gambling. Frankly, I fear for a society that cannot enjoy sporting competitions without feeling the need to place a bet on the outcome.
I fear for a society which is so willing to both promote and engage in an activity which brings so much grief to so many of its people.

I’m angry at the way in which gambling is promoted when people are losing homes, families, jobs, and relationships because of their gambling addictions.
Sure, it’s not compulsory. Nobody makes them gamble. But they do, and it causes incredible pain and destruction in their lives.
The ads on TV that offer help for gambling addicts are vastly outnumbered by the ads for gambling opportunities.

I’m angry at the way gambling is normalised in the minds of our children and young people.  I can’t watch a game of football or tennis, or any prime time TV show, without seeing ads for online betting, mobile phone apps for betting, or some kind of lottery. This presents a very clear and dangerous message to our youth: gambling is fun, gambling is fine, and it will solve all your money problems.  Obviously, that isn’t true, but it’s hard to demonstrate that to a 13 year old.

I’m angry at the greed of the companies that promote gambling, and are more than happy to take money from those who can’t afford it to further line their already luxuriously-lined pockets.
And I’m angry at the government for allowing this to happen, simply because they make good revenue on the taxes and fees that are paid.

So, no. I won’t be putting a bet on my favourite player or team. I won’t be playing the pokies when I go to a pub or club for dinner. And I will explain the dangers of gambling, and the lies of the advertising that promotes it, to my 13 year old and my students in the hope of keeping them from getting sucked into the vortex of the gambling world.

You can bet on that.

 

 

Exhibiting the Courage to Care

Today I was privileged to accompany 45 students on a visit to the Courage to Care exhibition in Portland.

We heard the personal story of a man named Harry, a Holocaust survivor from Poland. Harry’s story was incredibly powerful. So were the tears he shed while telling it. You couldn’t help but be moved by this first-hand account of the terrible things that were done during World War II. 

Courage to Care exists because they are passionate about telling many, many stories just like Harry’s. Given that we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, they know that it won’t be long before there are no survivors left to tell their stories to the generations that follow them. 

  

The message is not just about the Holocaust. It’s a message against any form of prejudice, hatred, intolerance or bullying. Differences between people are only ever superficial; underneath our skin, we’re all the same. 

Everyone who visits the exhibition is encouraged to be “Upstanders, not Bystanders”. It’s hard to leave without experiencing the conviction that you will never accept or condone discrimination again.

I cried as Harry told his story, not just for Harry but for every family who lived through the same thing. I cried for parents who lost children, children who lost parents, and siblings who lost each other.  

I cried again when I read the stories of two families in Rotterdam who worked with the Dutch Resistance and help save Jewish people from the Nazis. They almost certainly knew my grandfather, who worked for the Dutch Reaistance throughout the war, and was personally hunted by the Nazis as a result. 

   

My Opa told me stories about his experiences during the war when I was a young girl reading books like ‘The Hiding Place’ and The Diary of Anne Frank’. They were always very serious and quite emotional conversations. It was very important to him that I understood how important it is to oppose evil and to stand against hatred.

He told me more of his story when I was a little older and studying history. I guess he thought I could handle more of the horrible truth then. It certainly made my studies more personally relevant.

 It also explained why he would leave the room or turn the TV off whenever there was a scene where German soldiers marched or where Hitler addressed the crowd. I don’t know why I hadn’t made that connection before, but after that, I could not watch those scenes without thinking about how powerfully real and haunting it still was for him and, doubtless, everyone else who had survived it. I was very privileged today to meet Harry, to shake his hand and talk with him. I told him about my grandfather and the connection with the stories displayed in the exhibition, and cried again. He hugged me and we shed tears together.

Honestly, I’ve never been such a sook in public. The whole experience was very moving, and not just because it made me think about my grandfather. 

I saw the students responding in a similarly emotional way. They spoke up about bullying, booing at footballers, and the way different ethnic groups in Australia are perceived and treated. One of my students, a young man who generally seems to have not a care in the world, had tears in his eyes, just like I did. 

I saw the light in the eyes of the Courage to Care members as they were inspired by the responses of the young people in front of them. The conversations were serious and sombre. 

Every student took a wristband and put it on immediately, proud to be an Upstander. 

There is hope yet for our nation and our world. Young or old, we can make a stand against hatred and vilification.

All that is needed is the courage to care and to stand up for what is right.

  

Crazy theory… or is it?

Tonight as I was driving home from work, Raf Epstein on ABC 774 was asking the audience what “crazy theories” they’d fallen for or actually believed.

Callers confessed to believing in ghosts and poltergeists and premonitions.

One female caller suggested that Mick Malthouse was a Collingwood plant at the Carlton Football Club, because it was the only way to make sense of the poor job he’s doing as coach.

“IKNOWRIGHT!” I said excitedly to nobody in particular. “That’s exactly what I’ve been saying for months!”

In fact, when Collingwood clobbered Carlton on Friday night, in Malthouse’s record-breaking 715th game as coach, my uncharacteristically few tweets were thus:
ScreenHunter_74 May. 05 20.43

ScreenHunter_75 May. 05 20.46

ScreenHunter_73 May. 05 20.41

Personally, I’m not convinced that it’s such a crazy theory.
Besides, for a die-hard Carlton tragic, it beats believing that my team is so bad that they don’t need anyone to conspire against them in order to lose every week.

A new low in “reality television”.

When I was a teenager, the dating show ‘Perfect Match’ was at the height of its popularity. Since then, we have seen a long list of shows that have varied only in the degree of tackiness, such as ‘Please Marry My Boy’ where the mothers of single men selected a bride for their sons to the considerably more sordid ‘The Bachelor’. I honestly didn’t think it could get much worse than that… until tonight. 

I’ve just seen a promo on TV for a show called ‘Married at First Sight’. The premise of the show is that a number of couples are ‘matched’ by a psychologist and a neurologist, and meet each other for the first time at the altar where they enter into legally binding arranged marriages. They have never met; they don’t know anything about each other; they don’t even know one another’s name. The show is openly advertised as a social experiment. 

Seriously? How is this allowed? Can this really be legal in Australia, where arranged marriages that are quite acceptable in other cultures are frowned upon?  I am incredulous at the hypocrisy of this is acceptable in our society when the right to marry is denied to loving, committed couples who happen to be gay: hasn’t the loudest, most popular argument against legalising gay marriage is that “it debases the sanctity of marriage”? Surely, this ‘experiment’ is guilty of doing exactly that. Let’s face it, heterosexual couples haven’t done such a great job of maintaining the sanctity of marriage up to this point, and this program is most likely to hit a new low in that department.  This really only serves to reinforce my belief that we are guilty of huge double standards in this department. 

It must not be forgotten that these are real people with real feelings and the rest of their lives ahead of them.  I can’t imagine how my gay friends and family must feel about the sanctity of marriage being turned into a game show but still denied to them.
It seems that “reality television” is about to reach a new low. Are we really that desperate for entertainment?