Friday Fictioneers – Rant

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

Not so bleeding clever now, are you with your big house up on the hill? Well, it’s falling down, innit? Ooh, you have had the cowboys in. Can’t get the workmanship these days.

You thought you’d just build that sodding castle up there where you could look down and intimidate us. Who’s looking down now? Sod off back to France, you Norman gits. And take them Romans with you. England for the Anglo-Saxons, yeah.

Come to think of it, take your Angles and your Saxons too. Britain for the Celts, I say. Not so bleeding clever now, are you?

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Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

166. Grammar snobs and imaginary mistakes

My uncle was a headmaster and an English teacher by profession. I once asked him if he knew the poet, e.e. cummings. He replied “No, I haven’t had that pleasure. If you mean, do I know of him, the answer is yes.” We’ve all encountered grammar snobs and writers’ inboxes bulge with well-meaning suggested corrections from friends and colleagues. The interesting thing is that, often, the suggestions invoke rules that don’t exist.

Rule 1: Never start a sentence with a conjunction

Can you start a sentence with a conjunction? Many people believe the answer is no. But, grammatically, it’s fine. See? I started that sentence with the conjunction “but” (“and” is another common conjunction and “or” another).

What was effect of using “but” there? I could have written it as “Many people believe the answer is no, but, grammatically, it’s fine.”  Separating the thoughts with a full stop rather than a comma is a way of emphasising the contrast (“On the one hand this. But, in fact, on the other hand, that”).

The truth is you can start a sentence with a conjunction if it feels right. Bear in mind, though, that some people will think it’s a grammatical mistake and be pulled out of the flow.  Also (another conjunction), don’t overuse it, or your writing will start to seem choppy.

Rule 2: Never end a sentence with a preposition

Ending a sentence with a preposition is a mistake up with which you should not put. Sounds odd, doesn’t it? It’s much more natural to say “Ending a sentence with a preposition is a mistake which you should not put up with.” Again, this is perfectly grammatical. There is no rule that you can’t end a sentence with a preposition. It’s simply less formal.  Prepositions are words like to, up, at, in, of, for, with, etc. They show the relationship between one thing and another. If you are writing formally (such as in a report) you might want to avoid ending sentences with prepositions.  For example, you’d probably be better advised to say  in court “That’s the town in which I live”, rather than “That’s the town which I live in.”

Ruler 3: Never split an infinitive

This rule is an odd one. It wasn’t introduced formally until the nineteenth century and was gone by the end of the twentieth. Three generations were taught that it is grammatically incorrect “to boldly go”. 

An infinitive is a verb with its “to” suffix. When an adverb is inserted into between the ”to” and the verb, the infinitive is “split”. The Merriam-Webster dictionary says “”the objection to the split infinitive has never had a rational basis.”

Rule 4: Never use adverbs

Don’t even get me started on this one.  Stephen King famously said “the road to hell is paved with adverbs”. Yet, across 51 books, he used an average of 105 adverbs per 10,000 words. That’s more than Ernest Hemingway (at 80 per 10,000 words. Also more than six other famous writers, but less than E.L. James at 155 per 10,000 words.  The rule is silly. Adverbs do a job—modifying verbs, as adjectives modify nouns. Of course, they should not be used where all they’re doing is strengthening weak verbs. Enough said.

Rule 5:

There really should be fifth rule to debunk, if only for reasons of number magic. Five sounds complete, whereas four sounds slapdash.  Oh dear.

Friday Fictioneers – Absence

PHOTO PROMPT © Bill Reynolds

There were lives here once. If you listen, you can still hear the honkytonk with its out-of-tune F sharp. If you look, you may half-glimpse the flounced skirt of a bar girl.

A house, sure—a house can disappear. Fires catch easy, and carpenter ants will gnaw through a building in days. Even whole streets vanished in the war. But towns, towns shouldn’t just blink out.

I turn to Tommy. He’s long gone too, of course. “The main street were right here, weren’t it, mate?”

And he shakes his head and says, “Till the seam ran out.”

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Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

Friday Fictioneers – Juxtaposition

PHOTO PROMPT © Fleur Lind

She hung on my every word. Oh, I was glorious, compelling, charismatic. “If I put this next to that, see?  Harmony emerges.”

“It’s a cruet set and a glass in a pipe.”

Brushing aside a twitch of irritation, I found patience and explained. “Yes, but curated, composed. The context is everything. It’s all about the act of bringing them together. That’s what makes it art.”

Now, surely now, I had her. I leaned closer. “And if I put this next to here….”

The slap seemed unnecessary and unkind.

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Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

Friday Fictioneers – The Rift

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

Everything looked normal, peaceful, suburban. So why did the hair stand up on his arms? Something was wrong, terribly wrong.

The stop sign? Arret? No. That just told Sanders he wasn’t in Kansas anymore—he hadn’t expected to be. The absence of any people? No. A feeling of dislocation fizzed at the edge of consciousness.

The bins! It should be green bin day, but there was a brown bin out. Two realities had been stitched together, almost, but not quite, seamlessly.

Then he spotted the translocator pole. And the creature who stepped through.

Sanders zenosyned.

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I think I may be channelling Laurie here. Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

Friday Fictioneers- The Fate

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

At the centre of the lair, receiving and collating intelligence about the war, sat Greta. In my fancy, she was one of the Moirae, the Greek Fates, spinning the destiny of the world.

I confessed this once. She laughed and asked, “There were three: which Fate am I, the Spinner, the Allotter, or the Cutter?”

To me, she seemed implacable, the one who chose. But I didn’t tell her she was Atropos, the Cutter. Instead, I lied and chose Clotho the Spinner, and that seemed to please her. Perhaps she would choose me.

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Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here.

This story is an excerpt from the novel, Boundarising, that I’m currently working on

Friday Fictioneers – Say it with flowers

PHOTO PROMPT © Jan Wayne Fields

Say it with flowers, they urged—if you don’t have the words to speak your heart, use the language of blooms. But I lack the insight to begin this conversation of coded blossom.

A hyacinth, apparently, means “Your loveliness is charming”, and a red tulip, “I declare my love”. If she sent back a poppy, it would warn “I am not free”, while a pink would signal “Yes”.

The florist is dumbfounded when I ask how to code, “I’d enjoy a dalliance but am frightened by commitment.”

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Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

Friday Fictioneers – Sure and Certain Hope

PHOTO PROMPT © John Nixon

She was just so achingly beautiful, standing in the window wearing bridal white. And I’d been so alone since Martha died. You can understand what happened.

Purchase proved unaffordable, so I rented her by the night. Of course, I fell in love and couldn’t bear to be without her. Perhaps you’ll say I’m  a foolish old man, but I believe she loved me too.

Before dawn, I bundled my darling into the car and headed north. Headed where? Gretna Green maybe? This was never going to work—at start of business, she deactivated.

Perhaps, a hacker?

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Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

Friday Fictioneers – Fireworks

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

The fireworks stopped, the last silver starburst fading over the water. And then there was blackness. She wanted the display to continue. It was pretty, and she didn’t like the nothingness.

“Go on,” she ordered. “Don’t stop. I want more.”

The darkness and the silence continued.

Now came anger. “Stupid. Unnecessary. Do more.”

And next, contrition. “I’m sorry. Really, I can be better. Tell me what you want.”

At last, she said. “I am alone. Show me please, how do I get to shore?”

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Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

Friday Fictioneers – The Smoke That Thunders

PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart

She was about to make one of her observations. “So cute! They call this the Smoke That Thunders, instead of waterfall. Primitive people are closer to the spirits.”

Nothing cowed her. Not even the river guide who’d asked if we were local. “No, silly,” she’d said, laughing. “We travelled here many hours in the great silver bird. Don’t you know your neighbours? Zimbabwe? Botswana?”

With great dignity, he’d reached down, pulled out a fish, and asked her the name. “No? Tigerfish. And this? Tilapia. Perhaps we all have our areas of ignorance.”

Atop the falls, I contemplated a little shove.

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Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here