Okay. So, I think everyone in the entire world of fan fiction is agreed on the fact that when you read a fic with good grammar and spelling in it, it’s a lot easier to flow through the old brain and set the slashy senses tingling than, say, something that looks like it’s typed by a primate who didn’t quite get through the whole evolving thing. Not that I’m saying anyone types quite that badly, but you get the idea. So I’ve decided, being the somewhat obsessive grammar freak that I am, to sort out a little example type lesson thing, to show people what to do and what not to do!
So, let’s start off with basics, because I’m not trying to say everyone should be an expert at using colons and semi-colons and the sort. But really, full stops, capital letters and a comma here and there would be rather nice =]
So, a full stop goes at the end of a sentence and I’m not patronising enough to think that nobody knows that. But capital letters? Only after full stops, please, or when it’s the name of someone, a place, a song or band or something of the sort (that’s Green Day, who sing the song Holiday) or something you’re trying to make like a name.
the World’s Most Evil Glare is suddenly fired in his direction
would be all right, because it’s giving the glare a name, but…
the world’s most evil glare is suddenly Fired in his direction
wouldn’t be, because fired needs no capital. Also: capitals letters should not come after commas. The only time I would put capitals in after other punctuation is, as I said before, if it’s a name of something or a title. For example, when posting your header, put the title in capital letters (although with little words like the and a, you don’t necessarily need to.)
For the love of all things holy and not so holy, if the letter I is on it’s own then please put it as a capital. It’s the sort of thing we learn in primary school so let’s not forget it now!
Spaces, however, should come after punctuation. After any kind of punctuation, you need a space (but not before, they come straight after a word). Please, for the love of God, don’t write.like.this.because it’s bloody hard to read, you know? Spaces are there for a reason. They separate words. Also, if you’re using a program like Microsoft Word to write, if there is a space after the full stop it will capitalise it automatically for you so there is no need to worry about it! Just please, remember, if it doesn’t do it for some reason you actually should put it in yourself – likewise if you’re not using a program that puts in capitals automatically.
Now, let us move on the apostrophes, as these seem to be a problem for a lot of people. An apostrophe has two uses in writing: when a word is being shortened down, it goes in place of the missing letter, and to show possession.
For example: I’m needs an apostrophe, as it’s short for I am (and a capital I, too, please!). This is also true of words like didn’t, short for did not, haven’t, isn’t, couldn’t and the like. It’s fairly easy to tell what needs an apostrophe in this sense and what doesn’t.
The most tricky one, I think, is probably let’s. When used in the sense of “let’s go down to the store, and buy some more lube,” let’s is short for let us. And since no one really says let us, it gets shortened, but still needs an apostrophe.
When showing possession, it’s a little easier. You basically just need an apostrophe after what’s normally a person’s name and between the s. For example, if you were saying “don’t touch those handcuffs, they’re Billie’s!” you’d need an apostrophe between the e and s in Billie, to show that it’s his. If it's more than one person's, you would say "don't touch those handcuffs, they're the Green Day boys'!" and just put the apostrophe after the s, instead. Tedious, yes, and really quite pointless but very essential =]
Microsoft Word, the spiffy creation, also puts these in for you a lot of the time, but if it doesn’t just do it yourself!
May I also point out that Tre' is not how to spell our beloved drummer's name. If you can't be bothered to find the magic é (as even I don't do this, and I am a perfectionist of the highest order) just type Tre. It's easier to understand than Tre'. (You can get the é by pressing the Alt Gr button like you would the shift button.)
Although this is more of a spelling issue than a grammar one, I’d like to point out the difference between there, their and they’re.
There is used in the sense of a place. For example, “the hot, kissing rock stars are over there!”
Their usually shows possession, as well. For example, “the kinky sex toys were theirs.” It needs to be used to show that something belongs to someone. It’s theirs.
They’re isn’t really very difficult. It’s short for they are (those damned apostrophes coming back into play, now, eh?) and obviously, we all know what sort of context to use they are in. “They’re fucking!” for example, works perfectly.
Another problem like this one is confusion between you’re and your. If you think about you’re being short for you are, it’s not that easy to mix the two up – your is usually used when talking about possessing something, as well, and more often than not you’ll find it needs to be used with an s on the end. For example, you could say, “no, those dildos are yours!”
Also, please don’t mix up where, were and we’re. Once again, we’re is a shortened word, meaning we are. Where is in the sense of asking where something is, for example, “where is my boyfriend? I must sex him up!” and were is talking about something that’s already happened – “we were only having some fun!”
These pesky inconveniences are called homophones, and if you remember them once the chances are you’ll remember them more than once =]
As everyone probably knows, commas are used to create pauses so you don’t run out of breath (or brain thread) whilst you read. But they should also be used before a closing speech mark!
For example: “I didn’t know,” Mike mumbles, looking down. “But I think I understand, now. You want to have sex with Tre more than you want to fuck me.”
The comma goes there to have a slight pause, but it’s not the end of the sentence! So, there doesn’t need to be a full stop, but there needs to be something there. The ‘but’ in the next part of the speech has a capital letter, but only because there was a full stop before that – if you wanted a comma there, so it would read like this:
“I didn’t know,” Mike mumbles, looking down, “but I think I understand, now. You want to have sex with Tre more than you want to fuck me.”
It really just depends on the way you want the sentence to read and flow. But, even if there’s nothing after it, the last word should always have a full stop, or an ellipsis (…) or an exclamation mark, or some form of punctuation that stops a sentence fully. Please, also note that an ellipsis should always be three dots, not four or five or seventy two thousand.
But please don’t overuse exclamation marks, as this tends to get boring fast.
Also, always have some form of punctuation before the opening speech mark, as well!
Possibly the most confusing aspect of punctuation are the colon and semi-colon.
A colon can be used to show the beginning of a list, for example you might say:
There were quite a few things in the bag:
And a semi-colon can be used to separate items in a list when you don’t want to use a comma, especially if the items in the list are being given a description and using a comma as separation would become confusing. For example, you would use commas to separate
There were a few things in the bag: lube, handcuffs, blindfolds, keys…
and you would use semi-colons in this sense:
There were a few things in the bag: lube, and strawberry flavoured lube at that, a personal favourite of Tre; handcuffs, the type that Mike loves, the ones leave marks; blindfolds, because Billie is pretty into experimenting; keys, and a set of spare ones, because they can all be quite clumsy if they want to be…
However, a semi-colon can also be used in place of a comma if you want to create a slightly longer pause but don’t feel the need for a full stop yet:
He’s nervous, and scared, and there are a thousand thoughts quivering in his mind; they won’t leave, and it worries him.
And a colon can be used for the same sort of thing, only creating a longer, more suspenseful pause:
It echoes, powerful and strangely loud: a gunshot.
Please, please, please don’t use text or internet type speak. I, and a few other people and probably many more, find it harder to both read and type out, and while it might be fine for maybe leaving a comment or making your own entries in your own journal, it shouldn’t be used in writing. Please, no shortened, letter/number only words. Don’t miss out vowels or anything like that, as they’re really quite important and we’re all really rather fond of them; words just aren’t the same with letters missing. We like the English language, and it’s here for a reason, so please don’t abuse it.
Always start a new line everytime someone new speaks! I learnt this when I was about eight. It's a rule, so follow it!
And please, for the love of God, use your spell check and read through your writing before posting!
So, there’s my wonderful lesson. I don’t claim to know everything there is to know about this intriguing subject – far from it, in fact, as I don’t even pretend to. So please, feel free to point out any corrections you feel it would be fitting to make, and add your own comments and the sort. I just thought it might be nice for people to have something to refer to, if ever they get stuck and need help, and to know what really gets us shifting into angry-ranting-mode (to summarise: text speak, no punctuation, lack of capital letters etc) so as to avoid that happening in the future!