Grammar Guide

Please note that this grammar guide is attached to a site that features explicit slash, gay erotica featuring media characters, in this case mostly the men from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.  Since I know this has been an issue of debate in various places, I am indeed a woman, so if you have archaic notions of sexuality and gender, get over them.   This chick likes it dirty.


Grammar.  Punctuation.  We despise them, yet they're essential elements to good story-writing.  The question:  how to make people care?  I've come up with a solution:  Ares, god of war.  You don't care about comma splices?  What if Ares licks your ear while he explains the ins and outs of the rules?  Sound a little more enticing?  Let's try it out.    If you have no sense of humor, leave now.

| The Semi-Colon | The Apostrophe | The Comma | The Colon | Punctuating Dialogue | The Passive Voice
| Concise Sentences | Clauses | Links

The Semi-Colon (;)
Ares, staring deeply into your eyes, hard body pressed against yours, leans forward, whispering in your ear.  "A semi-colon," he begins, his hot breath sending a shiver down your spine, "separates two independent clauses.  Let me show you.  I want to fuck you; you want to fuck me.  See?

Each independent clause, or complete sentence, is divided by a semi-colon, not--" he pauses here, eyes darkening with anger, "Not with a comma.  If you use a comma, that's a comma splice.  It's like shaving my head; it breaks all natural laws.  And you don't want that, do you?"

He pauses, flexing those amazing pecs.  "Let's try one more. 'The god ran his fingers through his thick curls; she could only gasp in amazement.'  See?  Use a semi-colon, not a comma there. If you do it right, I'll consider running my tongue up and down your body."

*See below for a fuller definition of clauses.
The Apostrophe (')
a) Possession
Ares' body.  Ares' bulging biceps.  Ares' hard thighs.  The god's sweaty back.  The god's taut nipples.

I'm using the apostrophe to signal possession.  The body belongs to Ares, and that's what the apostrophe indicates here.  (You don't need to add the extra s if the word ends with an s.)

b) Contraction
The apostrophe is also used to indicate missing letters. I can't wait to grab that ass.  Can't is a contraction; the apostrophe lets you know that something's not there.  It's just been squeezed down for space.   So 'I cannot wait' becomes 'I can't wait.'

Listen to how you speak.   You contract everything.   But contraction is really a shortening of longer words.  With all this talk of contracting, I'm seeing the muscles of Ares' ass contracting as he thrusts inside me.   Yeah, me. It's my grammar guide, so let me have him for a minute or two.

Trick: when you see an apostrophe, try to insert missing letters.  If you can't, you know it's possessive.

Its vs It's
Its, without the apostrophe, is possessive. Its slick head felt hot against my fingers.  The slick head belongs to the its (the cock).

It's, with the apostrophe, is a contraction. It's [it is] too bad I can't feel his cock pressing against me.

Your vs You're
Your, without the apostrophe, is possessive. Your god is a beautiful stud.  The god belongs to you.

You're, with the apostrophe and e, is a contraction.  You're [you are] hot for Ares.

Whose vs Who's
Whose, without the apostrophe, is possessive. The god, in whose body all desire resides.   The body belongs to the god.

Who's, with the apostrophe, is a contraction. The god, who's [who is] so delicious, got naked.
The Comma (,)
Ares breathes heavily.  You can sense his annoyance even through his arousal.  Why?  Because he hates commas.  He loathes the high school teacher who told you to put one "when you take a breath."  Problem:  that's not how commas work.  Calm down, Ares.  You explain, lover.

He licks his lips, then begins to speak:  "Commas usually function within sentences to separate elements.  I'm going to give you some pointers.  Remember, of course, that I'm naked while I demonstrate comma use."

Commas are used:

  • To separate independent clauses linked by a coordinating conjunction (for, and, or, so, but, nor, yet). Ares is a beautiful god, yet he is never naked on tv.
  •  To set off most introductory elements. An introductory element modifies a word or words in the main (independent) clause that follows.  Unfortunately, we never see Ares' ass.  Even if Ares had a twin, we'd never see the twin's ass.
  • To set off non-restrictive elements.  What?  Let Ares explain, while he massages your back.  "Commas around part of a sentence often signal that the element is not essential to the meaning of the sentence.  This non-restrictive element may modify or rename the word it refers to, but it does not limit the word to a particular individual or group."  He smiles seductively, then offers an example of a sentence with non-restrictive elements:   T he gods, who reside on Mount Olympus, like to have sex.  They're all there, and they all like sex.  The middle part's non-restrictive. By contrast, a restrictive element does limit the word it refers to:  the element cannot be omitted without leaving the meaning too general.  Because it is essential, a restrictive element is not set off with commas.  The gods who reside on Mount Olympus like to have sex.  Those who don't live on Olympus might not like sex.  Not liking sex would be a good reason to move away from Olympus.
  • To separate items in a series. The god loves leather, earrings, and virgins.
  • To separate coordinate adjectives. Ares is a tall, studly hunk.
These are the basic functions of the comma.
The Colon (:)
Oh, Ares, the colon is one of the most misused of all punctuation marks, and yet it's one of the sexiest.  Turn it sideways, and what do we have?  A punctuation mark that looks like your eyes, or better yet, your balls.  Maybe that's why people use colons so often, when they really want commas.

So what does a colon do, exactly, other than put lusty thoughts into my head?  In brief, you can use a colon to introduce statements that summarize, restate or explain what is said in an independent clause. (See below for a discussion of independent clauses.)

Ares, head thrown back, curls hanging down his back, thunders a warning: "A colon can introduce a list only when the words before the colon are an independent clause!"

If you really want to suck Ares' cock, you need to do three things:  take out his cock; get on your knees; and open your mouth.

You use the colon in the above example because the section before it appears is an independent clause, while the section after explains what is said in that clause.  That introductory section has to be independent, otherwise you go to grammar hell.

A colon can also introduce an appositive, a word or words that rename a noun or pronoun, but only if the introductory words form an independent clause.

The temple of Ares has one outstanding feature:  the big, bad god of war.
["The big, bad god of war" renames 'the feature'.]

A colon can introduce a quotation, but only if the words before the colon are an independent clause.  Use a comma, not a colon, if the words before the quotation are not an independent clause.

Ares, voice low like a lion's growl, insists you're the only lover for him:  "I want you. I need you.  Now fuck me."

When the first independent clause explains or summarizes the second independent clauses, a colon can separate them.

I'll never forget the first time he slid that thick juicy cock into me:  I was lying on my bed and then he entered me without warning.

Misusing the Colon
A complete independent clauses must come before a colon, except with standard material, like chapters and verses of the Bible.  You're starting to see a pattern, right?  When you don't have an independent clause in the introductory part, you don't use a colon.

NO:  The god fucked:  Iphicles, you, and Hercules.

YES:  The god fucked Iphicles, you and Hercules.

The words or phrases such as, including, and like can be tricky:  don't let them lure you into using a colon incorrectly.

NO:  The god complained about a number of things, such as: his father's neglect, Hercules' mockery, and the tight leather chafing his cock.

YES:  The god complained about a number of things, such as his father's neglect, Hercules' mockery, and the tight leather chafing his cock.

Don't use a colon to separate a phrase or dependent clause from an independent clause:

NO: Day after day:  the war god kissed you.

YES:  Day after day, the war god kissed you.

NO:  At the day's end:  he pushed you onto the bed and licked your nipples.

YES:  At the day's end, he pushed you onto the bed and licked your nipples.
Punctuating Dialogue 
Dialogue confuses people.  It's those damn quotation marks.  But punctuating dialogue is as easy as giving the war god a hard-on.    "Spread for me," Ares said.

Note the comma after the final word in the quotation mark.  It goes there because the speech is followed by a speaking verb ("said").  Let's do some more: "Lick the head of my cock," the war god whispered.  He pulled it from the tight leather.  "Do it now."

If the action following the dialogue does not involve speech, but a different type of physical gesture, then you put a period.  "I love you."  He looked you up and down, smiling provocatively.

See?  Ares is looking, and he can't look 'I love you'.   He can whisper it, scream it, moan it, hiss it, but he can't look it.  So a period follows the speech, because he is speaking, then doing something else.

You smiled  back.  "I love you, too."

Again, no comma here, because the action prefacing the dialogue is not speech-based.  You can't smile the words, so they stand separately from the dialogue.  You're smiling, then you're speaking.

Ares opened his arms.  "Come here and fuck me," he commanded.

You wanted to say no, but he was naked and hard, so what could you do?  "Ok, Ares, you big, horny stud."  Your tongue slid over your dry lips.  "I'm ready when you are," you told him.

Notice, too, that I've double-spaced between the dialogue.  This is a convention in fanfic, and you must follow it.
The Passive Voice
As the god of war, Ares despises the passive voice.  It disgusts and horrifies him.  Instead, he loves the active voice.   He's butch and he's bad, and so is the active voice.  It rocks.

The above  sentences are written in the active voice.  In all cases, the subject of the sentence is clearly performing the action.  The active voice kicks in fiction:  it's direct, powerful, hard-hitting--just like the god himself.

The passive voice, on the other hand, bites (and not in a good way).  It forces you to produce wordier, more convoluted and generally slower sentences.

Active:     Ares despises the passive voice.
Passive:   The passive voice is despised by Ares.

See?  The second one is unnecessarily wordy since the god of war likes it hard and fast. You know what I'm talking about.

Active:     Ares thrust his tongue down your throat.
Passive:    Ares' tongue was thrust down your throat.

Oh, no!  In the second one, we've lost Ares.  He's not doing the action anymore, and we want him to thrust.  Oh yes, yes.

Ares leans forward, putting his hand on your thigh.  "If you're still not sure how to identify the passive voice," he says seductively, "look for telltale words like by and was.  They won't always tell you, but they'll help."  As a reward for paying attention, he slips his hand higher.
Writing Concise Sentences
Use strong verbs, such as slice, bicker and lick, because they energize sentences.  Weak verbs usually carry extra baggage, too, such as unneeded prepositional phrases and long, abstract nouns or adjectives.
Clause:  A group of related words containing a subject and predicate.

Ares rolls his eyes.  "Predicate" is the kind of word that scares people--maybe that's why it appeals to the god of war.  A predicate is simply the part of a sentence that contains the verb and tells what the subject is doing or experiencing, or what is being done to the subject.

An independent (main) clause can stand by itself as a sentence. It contains a subject and a predicate.

The big, naked, gorgeous god of war   smiled.
[complete subject]                          [complete predicate]

A subordinate (dependent) clauses servers as a single part of speech and so cannot stand by itself as a sentence.

Independent clauses:  We will always love Ares.
Subordinate clause:     We will always love Ares if he takes his shirt off.
A Dialogue and Writing Lesson
Doctor Merlin's Guide to Fan Fiction
Guide to Grammar and Writing
Torch's Links Page (last few sections deal specifically with writing)
The Transitive Demigod
The Writer's Tool Box (lots of links)

*I mention Eric S. above, and I want to thank him and everyone else who has contributed in some way to this guide.

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