Presenting: R. Mac Wheeler

Hey all! Welcome to the first installment of my new Monday Guest Post feature. For those of you who missed it, I’m featuring bloggers on Mondays, and any writer who wishes to be featured can contact me and book a date. (Even if unpublished.) Click here if you want more information. 

Today’s post is a short and sweet one by R. Mac Wheeler. Take it away, Mac! 

The Value of the Beta Reader

I recently swapped beta reads with the eloquent India Drummond, who I adore. Her characters are rich and colorful, their heartache, their love, and anger palpable.
Every pair of eyes brings valuable feedback. Even the nits that at first glance seem technically or stylistically counter to how you write may sprout beneficial changes in your writing.
I love white space, and dis-like narrative that seems crammed together. So I use commas where other writers wouldn’t.
“You often use commas to indicate a pause, but grammatically they aren’t correct.”
Of course I balked. My kneejerk reaction:
“‘CMOS Rule 6.18: The comma, aside from its technical uses in mathematical, bibliographical, and other contexts, indicates the smallest break in a sentence structure. It denotes a slight pause. Effective use of the comma involves good judgment, with ease of reading the end in view.’
“The first rule in the CMOS on commas, of 44.

“The art of writing is about sharing the context, emotion and subtlyof communication. The comma is the greatest inflection in the author’s tool box to replace the invisible body language.

After self-reflection and analysis of my writing (and three edit passes), I found myself removing a third of my commas which served to indicate a pause in narration or dialogue.
Tiny changes throughout a manuscript. But India’s critique aided me to tighten and improve my prose.

Who is R. Mac Wheeler? A writer of speculative fiction, fantasy, SF, suspense, and paranormal with rich characters carrying tons of baggage, including eight series from YA with ogres and trolls, grittier vampire and werewolf noir, even a family saga. Two stand-alone novels are screaming for their own series.
If you love nature and life visit my blog where I post my photography.

Thanks for stepping up first, Mac! 

So, ladies and gents, do you know Mac? What’s the biggest lesson you’ve ever learned from critique? 

A to Z Challenge: Keeping Things Consistent


This one’s also pretty easy, but very freaking tedious to do. Still, it wouldn’t be right if I made all my topics too difficult, so here goes.

When you get around to editing, it’s pretty important to keep an eye out for inconsistencies in your writing.

I’m talking about small things like the spelling of a name. Or a  name changing for no reason in the middle of the story.

Or punctuation. Are you applying (or ignoring) grammatical rules consistently?

It sounds like a silly thing to do, but it’s amazing how fast a reader can pick up  the smallest change. They might not see it. They might not be able to put their finger on the problem, but something will yank them out of the story and make them wonder what changed.

So don’t let something like a silly inconsistency damage the reading experience. It’s so not worth it.

Look Out for These:

1) US vs UK spelling.

2) Names.

3) Grammar.

So which inconsistencies catch you every time? Which ones have caught you in the past?

A to Z Challenge: Grammar and other Writing Conventions

Yes yes, I know this is a pretty obvious choice for G, but you know what they say, it’s a classic for a reason.

There are always some of the lucky few that have a natural feel for grammar and the other rules. Others don’t. Luckily, grammar is an easy (if repetitive and tedious) fix once you have an idea of the rule.

However, because there are so many rules, I’m not going to go into them today. Rather, I will refer you to this lovely lady.

Lucy Adams

Lucy is also doing the A to Z Challenge and her theme this year is Writing Conventions. Each letter deals with a specific grammar or writing rule.

I also suggest you go check out Grammargirl. She probably has every single thing to know about grammar on her site.

But before you turn yourself into a grammar nazi, remember that the prerogative is still yours. If you want to break a grammar rule for a reason, do it. As long as it works stylistically (ask crits and betas) and the reason isn’t because you’re too lazy to fix the mistakes.

So what about you? Grammar Nazi, or Grammar Hippie? Or somewhere in between? Have you ever experimented with breaking grammar rules? How did it work out?