Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Good Read and a Writing Tip

by Nina M. Osier

     Marooned on board an alien-built space station deep inside dangerous "Clan space," all the survivors from the destroyed star cruiser Archangel want is to go home. Or do they? Captain Mitch Dufrain has found love here, 20 years after he lost his first family. Chief Engineer Rilla Lansing has discovered new purpose after fleeing both retirement and her long-dead marriage. Senior Ordinary Aristotle Merchant looks forward to seeing the survivors colonize the planet the station orbits—but First Mate Thalia Eriknova, stranded among unchanged humans, wonders when and if she’ll see her native Themyscira again.

     Meanwhile, on Lansing’s home-world at the border of Clan space, a lone survivor from the ship that wrecked the Archangel lives a paroled prisoner of war’s existence and plans for the day when he can return and (if necessary) finish the job as Clan Cranston’s honor requires. 

Question: I have been taking a writing class this summer and just got my final paper back. I turned a story in to a teacher who insists I have left out many hyphens. What's wrong with describing a good looking man? Why on earth does he have to be good-looking every time?Isn't she just being picky?

Answer: Yes, she's being picky, but she's also right. You should consistantly Hyphenate phrases that combine modifiers. Descriptive phrases like “good-looking” take a hyphen. The best rule of thumb is that if both words won’t act as modifiers alone, they should be hyphenated. For instance you could have a good man, but you couldn’t have a “looking man” because that wouldn’t make sense. You need a hyphen to hook the words together so they will both apply to “man.” 

We are writers. Words are our tools. When we are not picky about them, we can end up like my uncle-by-marriage who once used a hatchet to drive a nail and ended in the ER with half an ear. Well maybe not quite THAT bad, but funny-looking all the same.

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