Bringing a Story to Life – Latin Helps!


There was a time – for Catholics – when learning Latin was basically a requirement.

How else could you understand mass?

 By the time I was in high school – a public high school – the need, if not the desire to take Latin had all but vanished.

Not for me – I LOVE language!

Fortunately, my high school offered Latin.

Vive La Difference!  I also took two years of French and had the good fortune to have a teacher who was born and raised in Paris.  She taught us so much more than how to read and write French.  Great teachers definitely make a difference!

The Latin class was actually full. On the first day, our teacher asked if there were any Catholics in the class.

About half.

She made a point of explaining that she would be teaching Classical Latin, not Church Latin.

Different alphabet.

She went on to explain that come parent-teacher night, she had no intention of arguing with parents [who had gone through twelve years of Catholic school] over how the j was pronounced and whether or not there was a v.

The class was awesome. In addition to learning to read and write Latin, we learned about the Roman empire and about Roman mythology.

I have never regretted taking Latin.**

It keeps on giving.  In college, I took German.  Our professor asked how many had taken Romance languages in high school.

About 5/6ths.

He asked how many of us had taken Latin or Russian.

Small handful of us.

He explained learning German would be far easier for those of us who had taken Russian or Latin since we understood that languages didn’t always follow the sentence structure of the Romance languages.

i.e., English, French, Spanish.

He pointed out we would have a much easier time.


It keeps on paying.  Perhaps the best evidence of a good investment has been with writing.  Not only is my vocabulary more expansive, my editing skills are sharper as a result.

The rules are different.  Where knowing Latin has been particularly helpful is in sentence structure.  There are more combinations in Latin and the verbs, nouns, etc are in different order than in the English language.

Same with German.

Past tense takes on an entirely new meaning in Latin-land.

Which has been very helpful with editing.

I’m currently doing final edit for Pawn Storm, Book 6 in the Metatron’s Army series.  Because I wrote my draft at lightning speed, I’m having to rewrite a few paragraphs, combining sentences in order to convey the meaning using fewer words/sentences.

As Hawkeye says to Radar in The Gun, “Radar, if you bring that sentence in for a fitting I can have it shortened by Wednesday.”

What happened WHEN?  Catching readers up in the middle of a series can present unique challenges.

I don’t like using backstory as filler.  I’d rather get to the point.  However, I know that

  • Some people may be just joining in/haven’t read the previous books
  • Some readers may forget some of the early stuff/need a refresher

Dealing with past tense can be tedious.

Do I say she had had or she’d had?  She went or she had gone?  Or she’d gone?

I can’t count the number of times when – while editing – I’d have a flashback to Latin class – learning about pluperfect or some other verb tense  lesson I was putting to work.

I also occasionally remember my 5thgrade teacher saying comma when deciding whether or not to put a comma – something for which the rules change constantly in publishing land.

Eye rolling – but true!  As early as second grade, I remember hearing – from parents and teachers alike – “Someday, you’ll use this.” You know what?  It’s true!

**  I achieved Magna Cum Laude in the National Latin Exam.

Pawn Storm will be available for purchase June 2018.


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