So, a while ago I signed up to become an accredited beta reader at PerfectImagination. For not specific reason but being bored and just wanting to know whether I could.

Anyway, I failed the original test with a total of 78% - I think I need at least 80% to pass, but of course I'd like to be better than that.

So the next thing is to be emailed by a mentor from the site to help you with those areas that still need improvement.

I got their email today:

You have shown a good grasp of the fundamentals of beta reading. Potential areas of improvement include the correct use of: Briticisms, commas, terminating punctuation, punctuation of dialogue, and spelling.

Please find attached a document offering general advice and resources on these areas. We regret that we cannot be more specific with regards the corrections you missed, but a recent round of cheating has made it impossible for us to publish the answers at any time.

Punctuation is a weakness, I know. Especially in dialogue, the rules are so different from German that it's tricky for me to remember all. I don't think we actually ever learnt it in school, either. Briticisms - well, I'm working on it, but considering that in school it didn't matter much whether we used BE or AE as long as we were consistent, and then I spent so much time actually in the US, it takes some time to get into the British English lane again. (I do make sure not to use "gotten", but things like Mom vs Mum barely even register as a AE/BE difference. Spelling in this case mostly seems to mean spelling of canon words - the question when to capitalize something and when not. Not even JKR is consistent, which doesn't make it a whole lot easier, but in their file they suggested some general rules, so that is fine.

What annoys me is that they can't be more specific. I would have loved to get the file back pointing out the mistakes I missed, or things I marked incorrectly.

I can see their point, though. If people are cheating by passing on corrected files to somebody else, the only way to prevent that is to not give them to anybody.

But it does make the mentoring process rather difficult.

I need to get back to my mentor and figure out what the next steps are supposed to be, if I just file their suggestions and wait for the next test session and try again, or whether I go over the original file again and send it off to the mentor for a read.

What annoys me is that people cheat on this. People cheating always annoys me, but when it's not about getting marks in school it annoys me even more. This is supposed to be for fun. You'd hardly list "Perfect Imagination Accredited Beta Reader" on your resumé. The whole point is to find out whether you can do it. If you cheat, you're not going to find that out. Where's the fun in that? No challenge at all.
The snippet I posted earlier today wasn't the only idea that came to me while jogging.

There is another budding story that would have to go to [ profile] tospareyou, but I am not sure whether or not to post it yet.
Posting would probably help me keep its exisence in mind and therefore make it more likely I continue it. (I still haven't forgotten the two unfinished Lumiones over there.)
But it would be the third unfinished story on there, and that's kind of getting old.

Besides, I am rather confident about finishing this one. I have a distinct idea of where I want to go.
And if I post it now, with the exchange still going strong, besides it being the weekend so most people not being online anyway or not having time to read and comment, I could as well be calling in the desert.

Maybe I'll wait until tomorrow and see how it goes.

Despite my best laid plans, I haven't yet watched Blow Dry. I spent hours this morning digging up information for my Dad. He called me at work on Friday and asked for help with something, and then after telling me he needed the information no later than Sunday so he could prepare it for a meeting on Monday, he had the gall to ask me what I was planning to do this weekend. Family is just great.

However, something I have planned I will definitely do: write a letter to my brother. Supposedly, soldiers like to get real, paper letters. I'll even write it by hand, because I just don't like writing personal letters on the computer. This might easily be the first letter I've ever written to my brother, or any of my siblings.
This little scene came to my mind while jogging this morning.
It's fiction, but not necessarily fan-fiction, so I decided to just post it here rather than in [ profile] tospareyou.

A man and a woman go into a restaurant... )
I've learnt something new today!

My beta reader for the exchange fic pointed out, among other things, that I should use the "em-dash". She had used it at some point and I copied it from there, but I had no idea how to get it myself. And I had never heard of it before either.

So I checked Wikipedia, the English version, and learnt that the em-dash is a rather long dash (originally, as long as the type of the letter M, hence the name), and that it was used to separate parts of sentences in a similar way as a comma, and also if a character's speech was interrupted by something else. (Which was the use my beta had mentioned.)
Then, using the fancy link on the left hand side of the Wikipedia site, I went to the appropriate German site - and found information about the regular dash I had been using.
But I looked around a bit and found the solution. The em-dash, called "Geviertstrich" in German, is not actually used for the same purpose in German. We use it for lists, but it is generally considered too much of a break in the text to use it as it is used in English. Which is likely why I never learnt about it before.
But now that I know of it, I decided to put that knowledge to use in an Original Fic (or somewhat original, as it is based on countless fairy tales I've read) I'm writing.

Aaand, I have posted what I have written so far over at [ profile] tospareyou. It's not betaed, it's not been proof-read by me, I have only a very slight idea where the story is going and I'm not even sure it will ever be a real story, it might remain just a bit of dabbling into the minds of the characters, but whatever. I'm having fun.
I've decided to treat myself to some books on writing this year.

So, what should I get?
I've heard of Strunk & White, and I also want to get a larger English-German dictionary as well as a thesaurus - I grope for synonyms so often, that's definitely necessary.

What would you suggest, which titles would you recommend, what would you avoid?

Does anyone have a good suggestion about British and American dialects and slang?
I know that's tricky, as colloquial language changes so fast, but it'd still be much appreciated.



August 2012

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