Sunday 28 February 2016

Visual Dare - Lift

This weeks Visual Dare offered an interesting photo. This is what came to me. 


It had taken Bethany an age to find the gateway, but once she had it, she raced into the woods, not allowing the cumbersome frame to hinder her. She knew her uncle had a wealth of curiosities in the mansion, but she hadn’t realise he’d discovered the magical realms. She’d look into it later, for now it was all about getting Rhodri out, he was so weak after years of confinement.

She stuck her head through the frame and saw him lying on the desert floor.

“Rhodri!” She screamed, knowing the sand tramps would arrive soon. Relief filled her when he pulled himself up and grasp the sheet she’d dangled through.

She pulled it up, using a tree for leverage, not satisfied until his head and shoulders cleared the edge of the frame. Then she yanked him out by his hands, until they fell on the forest floor panting. 


Tuesday 9 February 2016

The Incorrectness of 'Off of'

I have returned to The Purple Pen to talk about the cringe making existence of the new 'fashionable' use of the term 'off of' in writing. It is popping up everywhere on the internet and in publications, and seems to be becoming acceptable. I am here to tell you it is NOT.

It is appearing much more in American English than British - meaning American indie authors, and American media, but I have seen it occasionally in British online media, and indie authors. I have yet to see it in any professionally published novels* - mainly because if a professional editor claps eyes on it, they will remove it post-haste! 

It derives from the same place as 'would of', 'should of' or 'could of' - or any combinations of that. Although it is more obvious that these are incorrect, that the 'of' is a substitute for 'have'.

The 'of' in 'off of' is also replacing a word, and that word is 'from'.

So let's look at some sentences:

He jumped off of the bus.

How would that sound if you wrote: He jumped off from the bus? Not quite right is it? you would take the 'from' out, wouldn't you?  

He stepped off of the kerb. Becomes: He stepped off from the kerb? I see you pulling a face and saying, maybe.

How about: He never took his eyes off of her face?  

Let's try it: He never too his eyes off from her face. It just doesn't work does it. It's not correct.

So neither is 'off of'. You should ban it from ALL your writing.

For me personally, if I read anything with it in, I stop reading, I can't continue. Yes, it bothers me THAT much.

It should bother you too.

For the history of 'Off of' and that it has actually existed for some time but fallen out of fashion over the last 50 years and no longer considered good practice, check out this blog post on The Grammarphobia Blog.  

What do you think about the use of 'off of'? Do you have any misused grammar, words or phrases that distract you when reading a piece?

*Sadly this is no longer true. Fleet imprint of Little, Brown Book Group, (UK), part of the Hatchette Group has published a novel called Lab Girl with it appearing 7 times! 

 Find more editing tip posts HERE.

Sunday 7 February 2016

Visual Dare - Appearing

Almost forgot this one - the first Visual Dare prompt that invited so much. 


He put his ear to the crack of the door, listening as they decided his future. He could hear his mother’s protests as his father insisted it was what needed to be done. His heart broke with her voice as she began to cry saying she didn’t want him sent away. But the two strangers still persisted with their argument that it would be best for him; how India wasn’t tolerant of people that looked different, certainly not from higher class families like theirs.

Then his mother’s sobs turned to rage, and a spray of insults spewed from her mouth directed at her father as much as to the strangers. They became louder as she marched to the door, flinging it open to expose him eavesdropping there. But instead of anger she showed him love, sweeping him up in her arms as she ran with him from the house.

Words 149

Visual Dare - Evacuate

The recent Visual Dare image was mind blowing. I had the opening line in my head from the second I saw it but struggled to get it on paper until today due to always being too busy!


Jeb was sick of living in the outer-sphere, he wanted to be where the action was. But inter-galaxy living was for the highflyers not the plebs, he told himself as he inched along the highway with the other trillion outlanders, going to their predestined jobs; a tiny cog in the industrial machine that was planet farming.

He fiddled with the radio trying to intercept one of the outer-ring channels, catch a bit of the ‘in-crowd’ to cheer himself up, but all he got was static. He sighed. He’d had enough of pod living here on this air sucking planet, he wanted to be where the action was.

He stared at the spiral galaxy slowly turning in the sky ahead, his mind flicking through the possibilities. A smile crept across his face. Maybe a pleb could break out of the mould and reach the outer-limb if he had the right connections.

150 Words

Visual Dare Transcend

This photo from Visual Dare did it again. The story was there, ready to be written.


Everyone thought she was mad, that it would hinder her career, but she knew better. She knew that he offered exactly what was needed; he could glide like no other man, and bring out the best of her dancing. Everyone told her the attention would be on him and his wheelchair, and not on their beautiful dancing, but she disagreed. She believed they would be equal, that the audience would be amazed how well they worked together. He was incredible. He was smooth. His arm strength exceeded any other dancer she’d known; the moves they had worked out would blow everyone away. 

Emily was excited for the first time ever, truly believing they had a shot at the gold. And she wasn’t wrong, as she lay trembling above him, trying to hold the lift for as along as possible as the roar of the standing ovation rolled over them. 

149 Words

Visual Dare - Tethered

I was taking a break from Flash Fiction to focus on my writing, but I missed it. And being that I am partial to photo prompts, Visual Dare often sparks a story. And when they started up for 2016 again it was no exception. Enjoy.


Nancy sat on a bench in the middle of the shopping centre watching people rushing around, focused on the things they had to do in the short time they had. They wore frowns of concentration as they flitted from shop to shop, pushing buggies with screaming kids, dragging reluctant boyfriends, hauling the weekly shop with a face that looked like it needed a week of sleep. 

Nancy noticed more than that though; she saw the concrete blocks tethered to their ankles, and the hands tied behind their backs as they struggled to breathe in the ocean of people and pointless living. They’d been weighted down after years of drilling by their parents, their teachers, the media and the rigid constructs of society, all telling them this was how life was suppose to be; this would fulfil them. But Nancy knew better, she’d broken free from the torture years ago.

Words 149