The Magnificent Mini-Novels of 8MB

August 1, 2006

Grammar Exercise 6: Recap 1

Filed under: Grammar Exercises — Myke Bartlett @ 5:02 am

The sheet below will help you test yourself on the grammar we’ve covered over the last couple of weeks.

Grammar Recap Sheet 1 


Grammar Exercise 5: Confusing Words

Filed under: Grammar Exercises — Myke Bartlett @ 4:59 am

Today, we’re going to look at words that are easily confused with each other. Here are a few examples:


An apostrophe or not?

Look at the groups of words below. The words within each group sound the same or very similar, but one of the words in the group has an apostrophe in it. In each case the apostrophe shows a letter (or letters) is missing. By putting in the missing letters and thinking about the meaning of the words you should find them less confusing.
is short for it is or it has
e.g. It’s been a long, hard day at work.
means belonging to it
e.g. The dog hurt its paw.
is short for who is or who has
e.g. Who’s got the remote control?
means who does it belong to
e.g. Whose is this brown coat?
is short for you are
e.g. You’re always late for the bus.
means belonging to you
e.g. Is this your pair of shoes?
is short for they are
e.g. They’re waiting for us downstairs.
means belonging to them
e.g. Their dog barks all the time.
means in that place or is used in phrases such as there is or there are
e.g. The movie theatre is over there.
is short for we are
e.g. We’re going on holiday next week.
is part of the past tense of the verb to be
e.g. We were students.

IS IT AN ‘S’ OR A ‘C’?

Another commonly confused set of words are those that can be spelled with either a C or an S.

Think ‘s’ for the verb and ‘c’ for the noun.
She had lots of practice in running.
She practises every day.
He has a driving licence.
The publican is licensed to sell beer, wines and spirits.
My advice is to run away.
I advise you to stand still.

Now you can go complete the Quiz and the Games here

Grammar Exercise 4: Commas

Filed under: Grammar Exercises — Myke Bartlett @ 4:57 am

Commas are one of the most abused examples of punctuation. In the olden days, they were used far, far, far too often, sometimes where a full stop, that little dot, usually at the end of sentences, would be more appropriate, according to modern punctuation users. There are, however, too simple rules to guide you in using commas.

1) Use Commas to separate items in a list.

eg. For dinner I bought cheese, pasta, flour, eggs, brussel sprouts and wine.

eg. My favourite bands are My Chemical Romance, AC/DC, Slipknot and Insane Clown Posse.

2) Use Commas to ‘flag’ additional information.

Commas can be used either side of information that isn’t essential for a sentence to make sense.

eg. ICP, who dress up as scary-looking clowns, write sensitive and clever lyrics.

Here we don’t really need to know that ICP dress up as clowns for the sentence to make sense. The sentence is really about the sort of lyrics they write.

eg. My iPod, which I bought last year, is my favourite thing in the whole world.

Here we don’t need to know when the iPod was bought, the sentence is really just telling us how much it means to the writer.

Complete the worksheet below in your workbooks:

How to use Commas

For more work on Commas, check out this post

The Empty Trampoline

Filed under: Novel Writing Links — Myke Bartlett @ 12:29 am

Stuck for a title for your fantastic mininovel? Help is at hand with this easy to use novel title generator!

You might need to know what a preposition is. Don’t worry, it’s much easier than it sounds.

Basically, a preposition just tells us where or when something is. Is it up, down, above, under, inside, beneath, over, below? These are all prepositions.

The book is on the table.
The book is beneath the table.
The book is leaning against the table.
The book is beside the table.
She held the book over the table.
She read the book during class.

The prepositions above are in BOLD

The titles I came up with are:

Title One: Dark Chasms Below Empty Phonebooths
Title Two: The Empty Trampoline
Title Three: The Book Below Dark Chasms
Title Four: Dark Trampoline
Title Five: The Falling Book
Title Six: Yawning Phonebooths
Title Seven: Falling Chasms
Title Eight: Empty Yawning
Title Nine: Yawning for Phonebooths
Title Ten: Falling and Yawning

This has already been posted on my other blog here

Novel Writing Sheet 3: My Plot Organiser

Filed under: Novel Writing Exercises — Myke Bartlett @ 12:16 am

Now that you’ve come up with your ideas for your story, it’s time to arrange them to make sure your novel will be well-structured. A good tale has a strong beginning, middle and end that sustains the attention of the reader.

Pacing is important in a novel, just as it’s important when you’re running a long race. If everything happens at the beginning of the novel, then you’ll run out of steam towards the end. If you save everything up until the end of the novel, then your reader won’t stay interested in your story and you’ll end up losing them. This sheet will help you spread the events of your novel evenly throughout the story. Remember (from your ‘How to Hatch a Plot’ sheet) that events should be building up to a major climax but that you should also have a number of ‘mini-climaxes’ along the way.

My plot organiser

Grammar Exercise 3: Putting Sentences Together

Filed under: Grammar Exercises — Myke Bartlett @ 12:11 am

We’ve already looked at how to write simple sentences. Now we’re going to look at how to put these sentences together to make them a bit more interesting. You’ll find that if you write in short simple sentences all the time your writing will be as difficult to read as if you write in incredibly long sentences. The sheet below will help you find a middle ground.

Complete the answers in your workbooks:

How to put simple sentences together

Novel Writing Sheet 2: How To Hatch A Plot

Filed under: Novel Writing Exercises — Myke Bartlett @ 12:07 am

Now we have our characters, we can start thinking about what to do with them. Don’t worry if you don’t have any ideas for a story just yet, the sheet below will help you come up with a few ideas in order to create a plot.

According to Aristotle‘s Poetics, a plot in literature is “the arrangement of incidents” that (ideally) each follow plausibly from the other. The plot is like the pencil outline that guides the painter’s brush (compare sketch). (Wikipedia, “Plot”)

You’ll need a guide to what happens in your novel in order to write a story that has a good structure. If you don’t plan before hand, your story might end up a bit rambling and fail to keep the reader’s interest.

Use the sheet below to devise a story in your workbooks. By the end you should have (mark these with clear headings)

1) A Hook

2) Character Events/Complications

3) Twists/Surprises

4) A Climax

How to hatch a plot

July 31, 2006

Grammar Exercise 2: Simple Sentences

Filed under: Grammar Exercises — Myke Bartlett @ 11:59 pm

What is a sentence? Basically, it’s a group of words that make sense on their own.

For example: That kid over there. is NOT a sentence. What are you telling us about the kid? What is the kid doing? Why should we care about the kid?

That kid over there is eating a hot dog. IS a sentence. It tells us something, namely that there is a kid nearby who is eating a hot dog.

A sentence needs a Subject (A Noun) and a Verb. It also needs a full stop(.), an exclamation mark(!), an ellipsis(…) or a question mark(?). A sentence can never finish with a comma(,).

A simple sentence should look something like this:

The (Subject) is (Verb)ing a (Noun).

eg. The boy is eating a hot dog.

At its most simple, a sentence MUST have the following.

The/A/An/That (Subject) is/was/are/will (Verb).

eg. The boy is eating.

A sentence must ALWAYS tell us something on its own.

Now complete the worksheet below in your workbooks:

Rules and examples to help you make simple sentences

Novel Writing Sheet 1: Build Yourself A Character

Filed under: Novel Writing Exercises — Myke Bartlett @ 11:39 pm

A character may not be the first thing to occur to you when it comes to writing a novel but the characters you create will most likely make a reader decide whether they want to read your story or not. Long after the details of your story are forgotten, a reader will remember a good character. We like to identify with some characters in stories and enjoy disliking others just as much.

The type of character you come up with will also help define what type of story it is you’re going to write. Certain types of characters fit certain types of stories. For example, Professor Snape from the Harry Potter books would seem a bit out of place in a romance set in Outback Australia.

So, before we start thinking about Plot, let’s use the sheet below to construct ourselves some characters:

Build Yourself A Character Sheet

Grammar Exercise 1: Tenses For Sentences

Filed under: Grammar Exercises — Myke Bartlett @ 11:30 pm

The tense of a piece of writing basically just tells us when the action is happening. If you’re writing a story about something that has already happened, you write in the PAST TENSE. Most novels are written in this tense. Here’s an example from “Hitler’s Daughter”:

‘It was funny with Frau Leib in the kitchen. No-one had ever talked to Heidi so freely before. Sometimes Heidi thought that Frau Leib wasn’t talking to her, but was just talking because she was uncomfortable when her mouth was still.’ (Hitler’s Daughter, p62.)

This piece of writing is also in the THIRD PERSON, which means it’s written by someone who isn’t actually in the story. All of the characters are referred to by name or as ‘him’ or ‘her’. There isn’t an ‘I’ character.

However, you can also write in the PRESENT TENSE. This means you write as if the action is happening right now. Some novels are written in the present tense and you might find that it makes the action a bit more exciting. It can involve the reader a little more in what’s going on, making them feel that they really are there while it’s happening. Here’s an example of PRESENT TENSE from ‘Jetty Rats.’

‘I open the door, taking a tentative sniff. Hey, what do you know? It’s not that bad. Another sniff. Longer. Deeper. And now the full extent of today’s stinkiness hits me, almost knocks me off my feet.’ (Jetty Rats, p22)

You’ll notice this example is written in the FIRST PERSON, which means someone in the story is telling the story. The main character refers to themselves as ‘I’. The Present Tense works very well with stories told in the First Person.
Now have a look at this worksheet below and complete the answers in your notebook:

Tenses for Sentences

Create a free website or blog at