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Posted Friday, April 1, 2011, at 7:22 AM

In writing circles it's known as "The Three Ds," and that's the Dream, the Desire and the Determination. Of those three, which would you say is most important?

As far as writing your book goes, determination is the most important factor. You can have the dream to write a book. You can have the desire. But if you don't have the gritty determination to see it through to the end, the other two elements really won't amount to much.

Plenty of people have a book idea in them. Do you have the same plan that so many do to one day write a book? You might even start it. But if you don't have the determination to stick with it, to get past the thrilling early stage when you're full of enthusiasm and can't wait to get to work on it every day, to get through the part in the middle that tends to sag and is less exciting to write, then your manuscript will end up in a drawer somewhere, soon abandoned entirely as you go on to other things.

You don't want your creation to lie about, half-formed and forgotten, do you? What a sad end to that brilliant idea you once had.

But if you do finish it, even just a rough first draft, you've already accomplished more than what 90% of the people who start a book manage to do. And it's a wonderful feeling, believe me. There's such a sense of accomplishment when you get to the end of that first draft. You'll feel like Leonardo DiCaprio at the bow of the Titanic, shouting, "I'm king of the world!" OK, maybe the Titanic isn't the best analogy, but you know what I mean.

So go ahead and dream about writing. When you're ready to get serious about it, that's when it's time to get to work.

Now I'm going to say a word about the title of this blog, because I really agonized over it even though I said I wouldn't obsess about making every sentence perfect. I wrote the title as "THE THREE D'S" with an apostrophe in a nonpossessive use. This is very occasionally acceptable to avoid confusion with a word, such as "She got all A's on her report card." The title "THE THREE DS," without an apostrophe, just didn't look right to me, especially in a title that's all caps. If I were writing it as a lower case title - "The Three Ds" - that looks a little better and I think I'd be OK with it, but I started these blog titles in all caps and want to keep them that way. In researching this online I found examples and arguments for both uses.

What do you think?

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

This makes my head hurt just thinking about it. I wouldn't have noticed the apostrophe without you mentioning it. I think it looks ok with it.

-- Posted by farmergirl.sp on Sun, Apr 3, 2011, at 8:42 PM

I have 3 half finished manuscripts and just started a new one. Your comment about determination hits home.

I think it looks like it needs the apostrophe in the title. But frankly I would have just chosen a different title rather than worry about if it was right or wrong. :)

-- Posted by ggilmore on Mon, Apr 4, 2011, at 10:12 AM

I didn't notice the apostrophe. But I did notice you start some sentences with And and But.

Back (way back) to my high school English, I thought that wasn't supposed to be done?

-- Posted by DHarris on Wed, Apr 6, 2011, at 8:25 AM

ggilmore, I honestly thought about just changing the title. In other circumstances I might have, but in this case to shy away from something I was uncertain about felt like a cop-out.

I'm still not sure which is the right way, and I've received several emails with opinions that are divided pretty much down the middle.

-- Posted by JTennant on Wed, Apr 6, 2011, at 7:01 PM


I tend to start sentences with "And" and "But" on a fairly regular basis, and from what I understand it's considered less formal. And since I write in a conversational tone, it seems appropriate.

At the website www.dailywritingtips.com, I found this:

"While it is acceptable to use such conjunctions to start a sentence, you should still use them carefully and efficiently, else your text might become choppy."

Sounds like good advice to me.

-- Posted by JTennant on Wed, Apr 6, 2011, at 7:06 PM

About the title: if i were to get my work published, isn't something like the correct punctuation something the editor would take care of anyway?

-- Posted by charliegarrett on Thu, Apr 7, 2011, at 9:27 AM

Speaking as someone who makes her living, such as it is, editing books and other documents -- yes, the editor will "take care of it," but that doesn't mean the writer shouldn't make the effort to know and understand the rules of punctuation and grammar.

Correct usage makes the words flow better and makes it more likely an agent or editor will help you get your work published.

The latest novel I edited, I almost didn't take on the project because there were hardly any paragraph breaks on any page, his use of quotation marks and other punctuation was just crazy, and the descriptions and everything else were heavily over-written.

I took the time to see through all that and see that he had created beautiful, funny, heartbreaking characters, one of good and one of evil, but each with their fascinating histories.

Not everyone will hunt for the treasure in your work like that.

-- Posted by AmyPeterson on Thu, Apr 7, 2011, at 8:51 PM

I couldn't have said it better myself, Amy.

Few editors will turn away a well-written, engaging story because of a couple of punctuation errors. But the writer who wants his/her work to stand out from the rest should take care to present it in as professional a light as possible.

-- Posted by JTennant on Thu, Apr 7, 2011, at 9:32 PM

I worry in the extreme about grammer correctness. I believe the publisher should not have to wade through my lack of professionalism. I do make errors and appreciate a good editor who is able to make the written word better and keep the focus of the sentence clear for the reader.

-- Posted by wordgardener on Sun, Apr 10, 2011, at 11:32 PM

I like the title in lower case. Using all upper case, and there are times when that is required, e.g. ATTENTION: (in a business letter) appears as a writer shouting at the reader; but I can appreciate the feeling of consistency in using all upper case in your titles.

-- Posted by Firstogo on Mon, Apr 11, 2011, at 10:00 PM

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Jean Tennant has been writing professionally for more than 30 years. Beginning with short stories, newspaper and magazine articles, she eventually branched out to full-length work, with several novels published by Warner Books, Kensington and Silhouette. Now the owner of Shapato Publishing, LLC, in Everly, Iowa, she teaches writers' workshops throughout the Midwest, for which her schedule can be seen at: www.jeantennant.com. Jean lives in Everly with her husband, Grover Reiser, and their dogs, Kirby and Dakota. Favorite quote: "Outside of a dog, man's best friend is a book. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." Groucho Marx.
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