Sunday 30 December 2012

Misplaced and Dangling Modifiers

Trying to get a simple definition of a Dangling Modifier from a grammar source can be frustrating. When I need to look something up, I don't want a complicated answer that makes me more confused that I already was.

So here is the simple definition of a Dangling Modifier with some examples.

A dangling modifier is a word or phrase that modifies a word not clearly stated in the sentence.

You do have a certain amount of freedom in deciding where to place the modifier in a sentence:

     Sue tamed the dragon easily.

     Sue easily tamed the dragon.
     Easily Sue tamed the dragon.
However, you will want to be wary of the misplaced modifiers as their position can modify the wrong thing.  Writing can be greatly improved by paying attention to the misplaced modifier.

The single-word modifiers should be placed near the word or words they modify so that the reader gets a clear message of what you are saying. Consider these sentences:

     [wrong]  After Sue's dragon-speaking lessons, she could understand dragon language spoken by the professor easily.

Does Sue understand dragon language easily, or does the professor speak it easily? 

The next sentence makes the meaning clear:

     [right]   Sue could easily understand dragon language after her dragon-speaking lessons taught by the professor.

It is also important to be careful about where you put limiting modifiers. These are words like 
"nearly", "just", "only", "almost", etc. Misplaced limiting modifiers can change the entire meaning of a sentence when placed next to the wrong word:

     [wrong] Sue almost ate all of the dragon's food. (she didn't "almost eat" it)

     [right] Sue ate almost all of the dragon's food.

     [wrong] Sue has nearly annoyed every dragon she plays with. (she hasn't "nearly annoyed" them)

     [right]  Sue has annoyed nearly every dragon she has played with.

So, the lessons here are for Sue: While easily taming your dragon and easily speaking his language, do not continue eating almost all of the dragon food and annoying nearly every dragon you play with.

More grammar lessons to come regarding: misplaced phrases and clauses; squinting modifiers; split infinitives; and more about dangling participles.

Sheesh, there's a lot of rules in English.

copyright, Diane Mae Robinson, 2012

Sunday 23 December 2012

From An Author I Greatly Admire

It is a great honor to have your book labeled 'a silly adventure' when you are a silly-adventure writer.

An author I greatly admire, Mark Simon Smith, who writes amazing fantasy, silly adventure kids books has reviewed my book, Sir Princess Petra – The Pen Pieyu Adventure, a  fantasy, silly adventure kids book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended Silly Adventure, November 29, 2012
By Mark Smith “Children’s Book Author”

This review is from: Sir Princess Petra (Pen Pieyu Adventures) (Perfect Paperback)
As an author, I greatly appreciate the whimsical qualities of Diane Mae Robinson’s work. Often times, it’s not enough to have a solid, well-written story when it comes to creating children’s books. There needs to be a bright sparkle that captures the child’s attention and pulls them along. So many times I’ve watched my son start a book and then put it down, just a few pages in, because there was no flash of color that kept him interested.
Robinson’s writing has it all and is a perfect read for that younger reader striking out on their own. I love her vivid descriptions and laugh-out-loud whimsy – it’s the exact same thing I strive to accomplish when writing.
Highly recommended.
Recently, I read and reviewed Mark Simon Smith’s book, Sir Nathan and the Quest for Queen Gobbledeegook. I became an instant fan. This book is the best children’s book I have read in many, many years–and believe me, I read a lot of children’s books.
Mark Simon Smith’s perfected writing and zany humor captures the reader in the first paragraph and takes them on a wonderful, incredible adventure that you don’t want to end.That is what a good book is all about!
I have received his second book, Sir Nathan and the Troublesome Task, and can’t wait to start it during the holidays. I will put up a review of this book, also.
For more information on Mark Simon Smith and his awesome books, visit:

Sunday 16 December 2012

More Dragon Fan Mail. Sheesh!

Really, my dragon gets more fan mail than I do. Snarls is a secondary character in my, The Pen Pieyu Adventure series. To read the first fan letter about Snarls from Miss Anonymous, read the blog of Nov. 11, 2012.

Dear Author Person,

I am miffed. I never thought you would post my last letter for all the world to see. How is this going to make Snarls feel? Okay, he will feel great. Attention is attention to him. But what about me? I don't need the entire world knowing I have a dragon friend? Do you know how ridiculous that sounds? Okay, maybe you don't, but it does. 

Who is that with Snarls in the picture?Some skank character of yours? It is bad enough he hangs with Petra, and now some character named Babblin wants to talk his ear off, and mine too. Why did you send her with Snarls to my house? Do you really think I need a talker on top of a fire breathing snoring dragon?  

I like Snarls, I really do, even the fire he puts everywhere is kind of endearing. Oh,and thanks for the tip about giving Snarls water before bedtime---to cut down on the fires.

Snarls is most welcome, as long as he stops scaring the kitties. As soon as one of them climbs up his tail, by his invitation, Snarls flips his tail and sends the cat flying through the air. Sure they always land on their feet but I always nearly have a heart attack. I got an email from him saying he was quite busy with book two, something about getting the editors to see things his way "or else."

I have never been visited by story book character before yours. I am kind of getting used to it. 

And yes, when Snarls visits me he always brings pajamas and snacks.

P.S. Fire department bill for all the previous havoc Snarls created at my house is in the mail.

Miss Anonymous.

Dear Miss Anonymous,

What can I say. My dragon has a mind of his own and he does play a little rough. We're working on that.

I can't believe he complained about his role in book 2. He seemed fine with it all through the writing and editing. Well, there is a little part about him wearing a pink, tasseled saddle that he complained about, but I thought he was over that.

Sorry for all the havoc he creates. Snarls really likes visiting you and, all the sleep-overs.

The Author.

Visit my website for more information on Snarls and all the characters from book one, Sir Princess Petra - The Pen Pieyu Adventures,  And read more about my fantasy kids books and dragon books for children.

Sunday 9 December 2012

Writing Lesson From Picasso

There are lesson to be learned from the art and the mind of Pablo Picasso. His techniques, creative insights, and empathy of his art has distinguished him as the revolutionary artist of the twentieth century.

Pablo Picasso                             
Oct. 25, 1881 - Apr. 8, 1973                                      
Born in Malaga, Spain

"When I was a child, my mother told me, 'If you become a soldier, you will be a general. If you become a monk, you will end up as the pope.' Instead I became a painter and wound up as Picasso."

Ah, the confidence to do what you were destined to do in life, and to do it well. This is a lesson all creators of the arts can take to heart. 

Pablo Picasso was an innovative thinkers of his time. He reinvented himself many times over during his career. Depending on his mental state and what was going on in the world at the time, his paintings took on the persona of: depression during his 'Blue Period'; love during his 'Rose Period'; shocking abstracts from his 'Cubist Period'; and the 'Classic Period' as World War 1 broke out. But at each stage, the art was profound and empathetic.

Does this mean that, as a writer, if we can feel the deepest emotions of what we are writing at a certain time, the work will be more poignant? I think that is exactly what Pablo Picasso was telling the world.

If a writer or an artist does not have their emotions wholeheartedly invested in their art, then neither will the reader or the viewer.

Pablo Picasso knew of the complexity of creating a piece of art, but he also understood the simplicity of art. Upon passing a group of school kids in his old age Picasso remarked,

"When I was as old as these children, I could draw like Rapheal,  but it took me a lifetime to learn to draw like them." 
Pablo Picasso, Self Portrait, 1907, oil on canvas

As a children's book author, this statement is a profound lesson to me. It's as if the artist is telling me to leave behind my adult ego and think as a child, to play as a child, to create as a child. And then, and only then, when I have re-mastered the skills of being a child, to write the books for the child.

Being an artist has also taught me lessons in writing for children, and teaching art to children, more so. Teaching children helps me to understand their creative insights, their lack of ego or competition, and their pure imagination that is so very intense. Children create from their heart.

So as a children's book author, the lessons I've learned from being around the creative minds of children is what grounds me in my writing, and teaches me how to create stories for children, through the eyes of a child, and with the heart of a child. Children have also taught me how to capture childlike innocence in my own art.

Diane M. Robinson, The Princess Knight, 2009, acrylic on canvas

Pablo Picasso has made a profound impact on the world of art, and his creative genius is a lesson to all who create, in all aspects of the arts.

                "If only we could pull out our brain and use only our eyes." Pablo Picasso

                                    May the wheels of creativity never stop turning.

Join the Kid Lit blog hop from December 5 - 26:

Sunday 2 December 2012

Three Common Punctuation Problems

I am a writer. I like to write. I do not like to ponder over punctuation, but as a writer I must.

Here are some of the problem punctuations that usually get my head swimming.

Writers often get the colon and semicolon confused, but they are very different. And then throw in the em dash, and it all gets mind boggling.

co·lon 1  (k
n. pl. co·lons
a. A punctuation mark ( : ) used after a word introducing a quotation, an explanation, an example, or a series and often after the salutation of a business letter. http://www.thefreedictionary.com

sem·i·co·lon  (s
A mark of punctuation ( ; ) used to connect independent clauses and indicating a closer relationship between the clauses than a period does.

Example of colon and semicolon use from my book, Sir Princess Petra.

“The choices are: to capture a crocodile and make his skin into a royal leather chair; to hush that howling, nasty dragon, Snarls, in the Forest of Doom; or to eat a roomful of raw onions.”

em·dash or em dash  (
A symbol ( ) used in writing and printing to indicate a break in thought or sentence structure, to introduce a phrase added for emphasis, definition, or explanation, or to separate two clauses.

(The em dash is made by hitting your dash key three times, then backspacing to make it a solid line. When writing in 'Blogger', I have to use a 'striketrough'.

Example of the em-dash from my book, Sir Princess Petra’s Talent.

Petra wiped away a tear--a tear of happiness and pride.

Or in this sentence where the king is reading from the royal rule book and looks up from his reading to emphasize something.

“Then, the hereby said princes--meaning you--will return to the kingdom with a proper princess certificate.”

For some reason, these three punctuation rules seem confusing. And I know they are not set in stone as I have seen sentences in other books, and they were dealt with differently.

When I'm not sure about these rules, this is when I question my editor for their proper use. The editor has greater insights into the punctuation dilema than I do.

And sometimes after I've pounded my head against the wall over some rule or other, my editor's answer is--it's just a matter of style.

Go figure.

copyright, Diane Mae Robinson, 2012