Monday, March 14, 2016

How to Write Book (and Movie and Poem and Everything in between) Titles

Figuring out how to handle titles can sometimes feel overwhelming—everything from books to poems to chapters to TV series to songs is expected to follow specific rules, and it can seem hard to remember which is which.

But the good news is twofold: One, for the most part, it doesn't matter what style guide you need to follow, because they all generally use the same rules. And two, there is some rhyme and reason to the choices, so you really only need to remember very little. Yay!

Book or Chapter: Big and Little Titles

The first thing to know is that the rules generally separate items into two subsets: large pieces of works and smaller pieces of works. For example, a book is a large piece, while a chapter is a smaller piece within the larger piece. Other examples include the following:
  • TV Show --> One Episode
  • Book of Poetry --> One Poem
  • CD --> One Song
  • Play --> One Act
Once you've identified which subset the title you're working with falls into, then you can determine its treatment fairly quickly.

Writing Titles for Books (and Other Large Works)

Titles of larger works are italicized. 

I recently read The Martian so I could compare it to the movie.
I've had Adele's album 25 on repeat for the past three weeks.
I was so excited when Amazon announced it was picking up Dr. Who. (Yes, I'm for real.)

Writing Titles for Chapters (and Other Small Works)

Titles of smaller works are "put into quotation marks."

The scene "Checks Out" from the movie The Martian blew me away.
Adele's voice in "Hello" is hauntingly beautiful. (No, really, check it out. You'll be haunted.)

"Midnight," according to one of my friends, is the best standalone episode of Dr. Who.

A Word on Capitalization

If I tried to explain all the rules there are about capitalizing titles, you wouldn't believe me—unless you were one of the few and the brave charged with ensuring title accuracy on a daily basis. But don't worry—if you're not one of the few, getting capitalization perfect probably isn't all that important. A really easy option is to simply capitalize all words of four letters and longer. Another really easy option is to capitalize all major words. 

The most important thing to remember, though, is to ensure that you're capitalizing all titles consistently.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Brilliant Writers Make Long Sentences Work

I've recently started reading The Complete Tales of Pooh (the original Winnie the Pooh stories) to my three-year-old. I've been pleasantly surprised by how entertaining it is for an much more than so many kids' books I've trudged through because she loves them.

In our most recent reading, we came across a sentence that was ridiculously long. It was a great reminder that great writers (along with their editors) can break out of the strict writing mold at times in a way that brings variety to sentence structure without losing the reader.
In after-years he liked to think that he had been in Very Great Danger during the Terrible Flood, but the only danger he had really been in was in the last half-hour of his imprisonment, when Owl, who had just flown up, sat on a branch of his tree to comfort him, and told hime a very long story about an aunt who had once laid a seagull's egg by mistake, and the story went on and on, rather like this sentence, until Piglet who was listening out of his window without much hope, went to sleep quietly and naturally, slipping slowly out of the window towards the water until he was only hanging on by his toes, at which moment luckily, a sudden loud squawk from Owl, which was really part of the story, being what his aunt said, woke the Piglet up and just gave him time to jerk himself back into safety and say, "How interesting, and did she?" when—well, you can imagine his joy when at least he saw the good ship, The Brain of Pooh (Captain, C. Robin; 1st Mate, P. Bear) coming over the sea to rescue him.
Yes, that is a single sentence. Pretty cool, huh?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Compact: The Noun

I love learning new things. It is part of the reason I am so passionate about my work. Every piece is something new, something different, something I would have never exposed myself to if it were not my job. Today, I learned something in an area I least expected: a definition of the word compact.

We all know the word's meaning as an adjective and a verb (if you don't, head on over to Merriam-Webster; they'll help you out!), but today I learned it can also be used as a noun.

Shocking, I know.

Again, a la Merriam-Webster: an agreement or covenant between two or more parties

Googling "compact agreement" seems to imply that a compact is usually used in a legal or official setting. I'm not sure how a contract could get more official, but if it was going to, it'd become a compact.

P.S. The quote in this post is by William Lloyd Garrison, an abolitionist from the 1800s who thought the Constitution was sadly soft on the issue of owning slaves. Check out PBS's Garrison biography for more information.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Great Gatsby Movie Trailer!

I am BEYOND excited about this movie. I recently reread The Great Gatsby and was impressed anew with Fitzgerald's writing skills. To see it brought to the big screen like this is going to be amazing—at least, I hope so!

For a hilarious trailer rundown, head over to BookRiot. These rundowns have become a recent favorite for me.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Open Journalism: The Guardian's Viewpoint (A Video)

Those who know me know I have a surface love for technology's effect on the world—how it changes it, how it clutters it, how it enhances it. So, when I came across this video on The Guardian, I had to share. As they explain:
This advert for the Guardian's open journalism, screened for the first time on 29 February 2012, imagines how we might cover the story of the Three Little Pigs in print and online. Follow the story from the paper's front page headline, through a social media discussion and finally to an unexpected conclusion.

What do you think? Can one source actually provide the "whole picture"? Do the different platforms for spreading (and exploring) news advance the truth or inhibit it?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Crazy English Grammar Rules: A Poem

Well, we're finally kinda-sorta settled into our house; work has slowed down for now; and I'm ready to get back to blogging!

To ease back in, today's post is a poem I found recently that humorously illustrates how crazy the rules of the English language can be. Generally, I also list the source, but I wasn't able to find the author/source for this poem. Whoever you are, kudos! You made one grammar nerd happy.

We'll Begin with a Box
We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes, 
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?
Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!
Let's face it - English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger;
Neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren't invented in England.
We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes,
We find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square,
And a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing,
Grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?
Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend?
If you have a bunch of odds and ends and
get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?
If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English
should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.
In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship.
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,
While a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language
In which your house can burn up as it burns down,
In which you fill in a form by filling it out, and
In which an alarm goes off by going on.
And in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother's not Mop?

Funny, no? Are there any like this not listed that drive you crazy? Tell me about them in the comments—I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Explaining What SOPA/PIPA Is: A Video

Breaking my silence here to take a minute to post a video for an issue I think is pretty important. And, several organizations have made it really easy to speak out, including Google, Wikipedia, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Ok, back to unpacking and working ferociously.