Monday, June 29, 2009

Confessions of an Exclamation Mark Abuser

Hi. I’m Laura. I have a punctuation problem. A month ago, I didn’t even know the danger in its overuse. Now, I’m taking steps to work through my addiction.

I’m not sure when my love of the exclamation mark began. School House Rock might have lit the spark. Who could resist the catchy interjections video? I am a proud owner of the Grammar Rock video. The warning on the back says nothing about the overuse of exclamation points.

If Grammar Rock was where it began, I’m sure middle school fueled it. Heaven help me if my 7th grade boyfriend should ever decide to go public with the book of love notes and poems I gave him. I can only imagine the number of exclamation marks included in that collection.

Last month on Twitter, someone I follow and respect started tweeting about their hate for the exclamation point. I gasped. Then I saw it retweeted over and over again by agents and editors. It began to sink in. Exclamation marks don’t make writing exciting. Vivid verbs and powerful word choice do.

How bad of an offender was I? My search found 116 exclamation marks in the first draft of the chapter book I’d written. Yikes. Almost all of them are gone now. There are a few times when no other mark will do.

I believe, and I think Oprah would back me on this one, that we can use the ugliness from our past to help others. So check your writing, folks. Don’t let an addiction to the exclamation mark get in the way of a beautiful writing career.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Scholastic Memories Contest Winner

Congratulations to Corey Schwartz! She just won $10 to spend at the Scholastic Store by entering the Scholastic Memories contest on My Side of the Rainbow. Keep watching my blog for more contests, and thanks for all the great comments!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How To Feel Like A Kid Again

Have you spent any time unleashing your inner-child? Those who write for children almost always write from a child’s perspective, but how often do we let ourselves practice feeling young? Below are 25 activities to bring out the kid in you this summer. Try them out. Set a goal. I’m going for at least one a week. Please add additional ideas in the comment section. And remember, have fun!

catch lightening bugs
blow bubbles
hula hoop
play tag (You could play book tag instead of tv tag)
throw water balloons
invite friends over for a slumber party
decorate the pavement with chalk art
play Charlie’s Angels with water guns
run in a sprinkler
play hide and seek or sardines
jump rope
camp out
make s’mores
sing hairbrush karaoke
play monkey in the middle
go roller skating
go parking (for the YA crowd)
play in the ocean
build a sandcastle
climb a tree
wear a temporary tattoo
chase the ice cream truck
build a pillow fort
go fishing