June Meeting Recap

Wow, hard to believe the year is half over. Our topic this month was how to eat, Grandma as compared to how to eat Grandma. If you’re a bit confused, no worries. We learned how to properly use punctuation in dialogue, hence, eat, Grandma.

In the article, Talk it Out: How to Punctuate Dialogue in Your Prose, by Taylor Houston of Lit Reactor, we were given several examples, complete with commentary on the proper and accepted methods of punctuation. For example, Mary said, “Call me tomorrow.” the comma comes before Mary’s comment. In the example, “Call me tomorrow,” Mary said, the comma comes after the comment. This is true even when the dialogue tag reverses from Mary said to said Mary.

In the sentence, “Call me tomorrow,” Mary said. “Have a nice evening.” the first part is identical to the first example, however, since there was an additional comment made, it is added after the period following, Mary said, and starts with a capital letter. This does not ring true for the phrase, “Call me,” Mary said, “tomorrow.” This sentence implies that Mary wasn’t quite finished with her statement and the writer chose to break it up by placing the dialogue tag in the middle for a change of pace, perhaps.


In the article, Commas Before Quotes, by Sesquiotica, we delve further into this topic.

“When the quoted material is within a narrative frame-even if it’s the only thing in the narrative frame-and we are being taken to the scene, as it were, a comma is generally used. But when the quoted material is being treated as an instance of an utterance of that phrase, and the verb is the main rather than being an entrance point to dialogue (in other words, when the quoted material is truly the complement of the verb rather than an act of locution introduced) a comma is not called for.” 

One example used is:

These are the sort of people who say “Sure thing” and then don’t do anything. [no comma there – it’s not bringing in an actual dialogue situation].

In this example, though there is a reference to dialogue, the reference is simply an observation rather than an actual phrase that was spoken, so the comma is not needed.

Throughout the article, several more examples were given to show when a comma is needed and when it is not, providing a great reference tool for writers to use in those pesky sentences where you’re just not quite sure whether or not to place a comma. We highly recommend everyone take a look and bookmark the pages for later use.


Our Summer Writing Contest is still open and entries are still being accepted.

OWLS 2016 Writing Competition, The Only Story*, open to fiction and poetry. Just $10 per submission or FREE with paid OWLS membership. Entries due by August 20, 2016. Go to OWLS’ website Contest Entry page for more details and entry form. Contest open to all writers. (* You may interpret the topic [This is the only story I’ll ever tell.] in creative ways. It could be the only story you, as the author, will ever tell; it could be the only story a character will ever tell in their life or the only one about a special topic–for example a grandfather sharing just one story about going to war with his grandson. Use your imagination but make it clear that this is somehow someone’s “only story.” You are NOT limited to using first person point of view.)

Dawn and Sarah are still working on the upcoming release of the OWLS mission and bylaws and expect to have them completed by the September meeting for everyone to read.

Our next meeting will be at the Cardinal Cafe in Stillman Valley on July 16th. Come early and grab lunch with us! And as always, if you know of anyone that likes to write, bring them along. The first two meetings are free and membership is only $25 a year after that. Hope to see you all there!



May Writing Retreat Recap

Good Morning OWLS!! The Lake Summerset Writing Retreat was a HUGE success. Writing Gals welcomed OWLS to their lodge for a day of writing inspired by the most amazing views of the lake, lunch outside in one of the many sunny spots and finishing up with a jam-packed OWLS meeting. All told, it was a day much enjoyed by all. Thank you Writing Gals!!

The topic on the agenda for the monthly meeting was, Resources & References, Benefits, Uses and Cautions.

Dawn and Sarah brought several of their favorite thesauruses for us to peruse and gander at. Books like, the Flip Dictionary by Barbara Ann Kipfer, Roget’s Thesaurus on Phrases by Barbara Ann Kipfer, Arms and Armor in Antiquity and the Middle Ages by Charles Boutell, The Bibliophile’s Dictionary by Miles Westley, A Concise Dictionary on First Names by Patrick Hanks and Flavia Hodges, the Dictionary of Superstitions by David Pickering, the Negative Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, the Positive Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi and finally, the Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.

In K.M. Weiland’s article, Is the Thesaurus Your Friend?, “writers are surprisingly divided over the value of a thesaurus. Some consider it their secret weapon; others regard it as a crutch.” Stephen King says, “Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule. ”

Still, we have to wonder, is this really true? Can a thesaurus be used without it becoming a crutch or a way to plug large, important sounding words into our writing with the intent of impressing an agent or publisher? Ms. Weiland goes on to say, yes, it is possible, but one needs to be cautious of using the correct word. Just because a thesaurus says it is a synonym does not mean it’s the right word for your WIP. http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/is-thesaurus-your-friend/

Daily Writing Tips’ article, Hint to Writers: Use the Thesaurus With Caution mirrored the same cautions as Ms. Weiland’s article, advising writers to become more comfortable with the vocabulary they are most familiar with and to use a thesaurus sparingly if at all. http://www.dailywritingtips.com/hint-to-writers-use-the-thesaurus-with-caution/

Writing-World.com’s article, Historical Fiction for Writers by Catherine Lundoff showed us ways to find information while researching. Ms. Lundoff says, “Historical resources can be broken down into two basic categories, primary sources which are contemporary records of the time period that you are researching; and secondary sources which are written after that time period.”

Each has their own advantages and disadvantages. Primary sources have the advantage of being an immediate source that clearly reflects the mood, dialect, and observations of that time period. However, the disadvantage is that the person recording the information is often limited to their own perspective with no real understanding of the big picture. Secondary sources offer a wider range of information, but often in a more contemporary language and thought pattern without the perspective of those who are experiencing it. http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/lundoff.shtml

With all the talk about thesauruses, the website, www.writershelpingwriters.net offers multiple resources. The Descriptive Thesaurus Collection offers a vast assortment of possible scenarios to explore, items such as the Physical Feature Thesaurus, Symbolism and Motif Thesaurus, or Emotional Wounds Thesaurus offer writers answers to any question they can think of. http://writershelpingwriters.net/thesaurus-collections/

All in all, our minds have been vastly expanded on the subject of thesauruses and research. The world is our oyster. At least the research world is. We look forward to seeing everyone for the June 25th meeting at Meg’s Daily Grind in Rockford. Details will be forthcoming. Have a safe and fun-filled Memorial Day weekend!