I Hate When That Happens

4A889342-0B4B-4113-AD65-A816F4FD0BE8I wrote a post earlier in response to today’s one-word prompt, “underdog.” When I first started the post, I was going to use the idiom, “no dog in the race,” but when I looked at it on my draft after typing the words, it didn’t look right. So I Googled it.

Sure enough, the actual expression is “no dog in the fight.” I’m not a fan of dog fighting, so I didn’t want to use that. I suppose I could have used “no dog in the hunt,” which is related to fox hunting, but I’m not a fan of that “sport” either.

So I finally settled on “no horse in the race.” But when I changed the text from “no dog in the race” to “no horse in the race,” I actually typed “no race in the race.”

One would think that, after proofreading the draft multiple times before hitting “Publish,” I would have caught that error and corrected it. But while my eyes read “no race in the race,” my brain saw what it thought I typed, which was “no horse in the race.”

So there was my error for the whole world to see. Well, that infinitesimally small fraction of the whole world that reads my blog, anyway. And I didn’t yet realize it until my blogging buddy, Jim Adams over at A Unique Title For Me, read my post and commented, “Change the first race to horse.” Thanks Jim. I made that change and I do appreciate you pointing it out.

But I still don’t feel better about having made that error in the first place and then not catching it myself while proofreading. I really need to do a better job of proofreading my posts before pushing them out.

And yes, I’m a bit OCD about this. What can I say, except that I will try to do better.


I’ll Think About It Tomorrow

I’ve tried it before — twice before, as a matter of fact — but I’ve always run out of steam sometime before the middle of the month. Maybe this year will be different.

I’ve always thought of myself as a potential novelist with the Great American Novel lurking somewhere within the bowels of my mind.

Wait, bowels if my mind? Eww.

I digress. It’s November, and that means it’s NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to write a 50,000 word novel between November 1st and November 30th. That’s only 1,667 word per day, on average. Certainly doable, right?

My genre would be suspense, mystery. Perhaps a riveting whodunnit with an iconic detective or private eye who solves the impossible murder mystery. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

The problem I have, though, is that, while I can conjure up colorful characters and create great dialogue, I don’t know what to do with the players. I come up empty when it comes to important characteristic for a novel. Like plot, character arcs, conflicts.

I have an idea for this year’s NaNoWriMo effort, but unless I come up with a plot outline for my story, I’m afraid I’ll once again run out of steam and end up with a cast of characters who are aimlessly waiting for something interesting to happen to them.

Oh well, as Scarlett O’Hara said, “Oh, I can’t think about this now! I’ll go crazy if I do! I’ll think about it tomorrow. But I must think about it. What is there to do? What is there that matters? NaNoWriMo. And I’ll think of some way to develop a plot. After all…tomorrow is another day!”

Wait, tomorrow is November 2nd. If I don’t think about it today, it will be too late!

Well, frankly NaNoWriMo, I don’t give a damn.

Written for today’s one-word prompt, “mystery.”

Whoa Is Me

The word “whoa” comes from the word “ho,” which first came into Middle English as a command to slow down or draw your horse to a stop. Sometime around the year 1620, the spelling evolved into what we now use today, “whoa.”

Aside from its use with horses, whoa is a popular exclamation used to express surprise, amazement, or great pleasure.

It’s a simple four-letter word that people use frequently. But when put in writing, it seems to often be misspelled.

Okay people, listen up. There is only one correct way to spell the word “whoa.”

It’s not “woah.”

It’s not “whoah.”

It’s not “waoh’ or “whao” or “whaoh.”

It’s “whoa.”

And it’s only “whoa.”

Even if you’re British or Canadian. It’s still “whoa.”

Think of the word “who.” You don’t spell who “woh,” do you? Or “whoh.”

Of course, it’s a free country and I suppose, on your blog, you can spell “whoa” any way you want to. As long as you realize that if you spell it any way other than w-h-o-a, you’re spelling it wrong.

And if you don’t mind spelling whoa wrong…well, woe unto you.

Just a Little Exaggeration

Do you ever exaggerate when telling a story or writing a post? Do you add an embellishment here or there for the sake of the narrative, to help your readers relate, or to gain their sympathy?

When someone exaggerates, they are representing something (or someone) as being larger, greater, better, or worse than it (or he or she) really is.

Don’t most good storytellers exaggerate a little? They embellish their tales, perhaps in order to heighten the story’s interest or to make the deeds described within seem just a bit more dramatic, heroic, or comedic.

And, of course, comedians make use of exaggeration, amplification, and hyperbole to enhance the humor of their jokes and funny stories.

An exaggeration occurs when the most fundamental aspects of a statement are true, but only to a certain degree. It’s just “stretching the truth” a little, right?

For example, when a mother scolds her child and says, “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times…” is that simply an exaggeration or is it a lie? After all, she may have told her kid that a lot, but certainly not a million times.

How about “I’m so hungry that I could eat a horse”? Or “You could have knocked me over with a feather”? Are these common idioms examples of exaggeration, hyperbole, or lies? Do we recognize and accept them because of how obvious it is that these are “exaggerations for effect”?

A fine line

But isn’t stretching the truth also lying and being dishonest? I think we can all agree that there is a fine line between exaggeration and lying. But if that’s the case, where does it fall and under what circumstances should it not be crossed?

I’ve heard some suggest that the difference between an exaggeration and a lie is that the former doesn’t cause any harm, whereas the latter does. Others say the difference between the two is that an exaggeration could be seen as a matter of interpretation of facts. A lie, though, is a deception with the intention to mislead.

It is, indeed, a slippery slope when trying to distinguish between a benign exaggeration and an outright lie.

As a blogger and a storyteller, what are your feelings about exaggeration? Do you equate adding embellishments to your posts to lying? When, if ever, is stretching the truth permissible?

One Space or Two?

Proportional versus Monospace font

In his post yesterday, my blogger friend Jim Adams wrote, “If you have ever read any of my posts you may have noticed that I always skip two spaces after every period and before I start a new sentence. I guess that this would qualify me as being anal.”

No, Jim, not anal. Just a throwback to the dark ages. You see, way back when I was in high school (aka, the dark ages), before personal computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones, I took a typing class. On a typewriter. A manual typewriter.

In that class we were taught to always put two spaces after periods at the end of sentences. It turns out, though, that the “two space rule” I was taught in 10th grade typing class is an archaic rule.

Most typewriters back then had only the courier font, a monospaced font where each letter took up the same amount of space. The skinny “i” and wider “w” occupied the same amount of space on the printed page. To make the text more readable, two spaces were used after the period in order to give the eyes a break between sentences.

When typing on a computer, however, most fonts are proportional fonts, which means that characters are not all the same widths. That skinny “i” referred to earlier takes up much less space than that fat “w.” Hence, putting an extra space between sentences doesn’t do anything to improve readability.

It was difficult for me, at first, to break a decades old habit of putting two spaces after each sentence-ending period. But when I started carefully reading printed documents and emails for work, I noticed that when I used only one space after the periods versus two, they looked better, more professional. And I also noticed that my blog posts looked more professional as well.

So I moved into the 21st century and embraced the “one-space rule.” But this is certainly not a life and death matter, Jim. If you wish to continue to practice the archaic “two-space rule” in your posts, well hey, it’s your blog and you can do as you please. I won’t think any less of you.

Of course, if you do choose to continue to skip two spaces after every period and before you start a new sentence, I’m afraid I’m going to have to rescind my nomination of you for the Unique Blogger Award.