Sunday, March 27, 2011

No Need for Speed

As writers, we need to be prepared. At any time, we could receive a phone call from a celebrity to ghost write his or her autobiography. That’s how it works, right? A-list celebrities spend hours upon hours searching the blogosphere for a blogger they feel will really be able to adequately capture their voice. Then they take it upon themselves to contact said blogger to set up a meeting. Good, that’s what I thought.

I think I read somewhere that over one hundred celebrity autobiographies came out last year, so it would be impossible to study up on all the celebrities who may want to tell their story in the near future. Therefore, after a lot of thinking, IMDB-ing, and Wikipedia-ing, I have narrowed my list down to one. Based on the fact that we have so much in common, the celebrity I am expecting to hear from is Tom Cruise.

The similarities between us are seriously uncanny.

For example, he once said, “I love kids. I was a kid myself, once.”

Me too! I was also a kid once.

He also said, “I've never done work for money ever. If your choices are based on grosses and the film doesn't do well, what does that mean? It leaves you with nothing.”

I don’t work for money either; I am a teacher.

And this is his quote that really made up my mind: “…I can't do something halfway, three-quarters, nine-tenths. If I'm going to do something, I go all the way.”

I love going all the way too!

At first I wanted to call the autobiography The Need for Speed, but then I realized that people might mistakenly interpret it as a drug reference. And that’s really the last thing Tom needs after his little stunt on Oprah.

Speaking of that incident, I’ve been debating how I am going to portray Oprah’s response to Tom’s antics.

Here’s one way:

“We’ve never seen you like this,” she said as she tried to mask the terror in her eyes with a smile.

This is the other way:

“We’ve never seen you like this.” She tried to mask the terror in her eyes with a smile.

The difference is very subtle. But did you notice that in the first example there is a comma after the word this, and in the second, there is a period?

That is because when we write dialogue we use a comma to separate the quote from the tag only if the tag has a speech verb in it. If there is no speech verb in the tag, we use a period.

The tag in the first example uses the speech verb said, so we use a comma and don't capitalize the first word of the tag line. The tag in the second example simply shows Oprah’s actions, so we use a period, and the tag is considered a new sentence so we do capitalize the first word of the tag line.

I'll let Tom decide which version he prefers during our first meeting. I'm thinking about suggesting we meet somewhere like IKEA or Pottery Barn. I'd have no problem meeting at my place except my couch is a bit old. I'm not sure it would survive the Katie Holmes chapter.


“English 3850: Punctuating Dialogue.” 27 March 2011.

“Tom Cruise.” Brainy Quote. 27 March 2011. Web.


Jeffrey Beesler said...

I couldn't venture a guess which celebrity would ask me to write their autograph. I'd be at a loss for words, which isn't a good thing for a writer.

Janet Johnson said...

Such a fun post! And the example is excellently hilarious.

I seriously wish you were my teacher.:)

Joanna St. James said...

oh I am seriously cracking up. Do you get bouts of seriousness like him too?
Thanks for my edits I am trying to digest it. That was so thorough and gosh am so ashamed - I should get an award for something in the punctuation horrors award show.

Theresa Milstein said...

I was waiting for the grammar lesson. But really I had a secret hope you'd be writing Tom's autobiography since you have so much in common.

Could be worse. You could identify more with Charlie Sheen.

Hart Johnson said...

*giggles* You're too funny. I had trouble with this distinction when I first really got going. It always seemed like it should be based on FLOW rather than silly rules. But I've succumbed...

I can't wait until you get to the chapter on Scientology. Surely that can only be understood through the Tom Cruise filter.

Angelina Rain said...

Thanks for the grammar lesson. I just started following your blog so I could learn some grammar. My biggest problem is sentence structure. I can’t believe I aced grammar in my school days but can’t remember any of it now.

As for autobiographies; I should be contacted by Angelina Jolie. I have the name for it, and it will give me a chance to meet Brad Pitt. Better yet, let’s skip the middle man (or woman) and go straight with Brad Pitt.

Carolyn Abiad said...

LOL! Thanks for the clarification.

I'd like to ghost for Viggo Mortensen. If you see him while you're hanging around with Tom, please send him over. :)

Talli Roland said...

Another important -- and hilariously done -- clarification! Thank you.

Rachael said...

I do so love blog posts with bibliographies. Well done!

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

I will always regret that I could not have had you for an English teacher.

Tom Cruise would be lucky to have you be his ghostwriter. Although you might not be as lucky. Aim for Snooki. She seems a little more normal.

Amie Kaufman said...

I'll be ghosting for Daniel Craig, since we're calling dibs. No idea if he's had an interesting life, but who cares? I'll probably be so busy staring at him I won't hear a word he says.

Wise choice on meeting location. You've got to plan ahead re. things like suitable couches. It's the small touches that show you care.

Stephanie Faris said...

Is it weird that I LOVE celebrity autobiographies? If they're well written.

This made me laugh out loud:

"I don’t work for money either; I am a teacher."

The Sisterhood said...

Can't wait to read it. Nobody seems to understand Tom Cruise as well as you do!

You have a great blog! I'm glad I found it. Except that now I'm VERY self-conscious about my grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. Feel free to make any corrections to this message; English is my second language.

(Was that proper use of the semicolon? ;))


Missed Periods said...


Your use of the semicolon is impeccable.

PissAnt138 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PissAnt138 said...

I like the way your posting grabs our attention then smacks us with vital information..

Just got a call from Charlie Sheen. I'll be his ghost writer..
Duh, Winning!!