Can This Relationship (with My Spelling and Grammar Checker) Be Saved? Yes! Here’s How…

I hate you, spellcheck!
I hate you, spellcheck!

So How Are You and Your Checker Getting Along?

Did my last post, Have You Seen Your Spellchecker Naked? reveal uncomfortable truths about how your spelling and grammar checker was letting you down? Before you give up on your relationship, try some checker counseling.

You wouldn’t dream of trying to change your spouse, partner, or significant other, would you? But as the word doctor, that’s exactly my advice on how to salvage your relationship with your checker—change its parameters and it will work better for you.

Most checkers let you personalize their settings to customize the types of errors they look for. You get to be in control in this relationship. You get to tell your checker which possible errors to flag and which to ignore. This post will tell you all you need to know about setting things right with your checker. Continue reading Can This Relationship (with My Spelling and Grammar Checker) Be Saved? Yes! Here’s How…

Step 3: Proofreading–Easy as… (Post 4 of 4 on Writing Revision)

Easy as...
Easy as…

Easy as…!

All right! [Did you notice that was two words? Just couldn’t resist the opportunity to get that little point in…] You’ve earned your badges [Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!] for Revision and Editing, Steps 1 and 2 in the Writing Revision Process. Now comes the easy part—Step 3: Proofreading!

That is, it’s easy if you’re anal about detail, like me. [I just checked, and “like me” is correct, although if I were being formal I might have written, “If you are as anal about detail as I am.” Then again, I’d probably have to ditch “anal”…] If you have ADHD or dyslexia like some members of my family, you might prefer sticking pins in your eyes to proofreading. [I am in a mood today! Maybe I should write all my posts in the afternoon early in the week, rather than cramming them at the last minute late at night!]

You can still learn to proofread, and do it well. (And you might even learn not to hate it so much.) I actually like it. But you already know I think a hot date is reading to each other from the dictionary. Continue reading Step 3: Proofreading–Easy as… (Post 4 of 4 on Writing Revision)

How to Make a Writing Resolution You’ll Finally Keep

New Year's Eve, Sydney, Australia
New Year’s Eve, Sydney Harbor, Australia

Happy 2015! Have you broken all your New Year’s resolutions yet?

Did you make any writing resolutions? Did you resolve to write more frequently? To send your moldering manuscript to publishers? To join a writer’s group? To take a writing course? To start that blog? Guess where I came up with those ideas? Heh heh.

Only 8% of people keep their New Year’s resolutions, says health and policy writer Dan Diamond. In Forbes, he cites research from the University of Scranton that suggests most of us fail because we make promises that are all-but-impossible to keep, like that of the mother of four who teaches school, but resolves to write for six hours a day.  Continue reading How to Make a Writing Resolution You’ll Finally Keep

Key Words, Emphasize Them You Must

Yoda
Creative power, write with it you must.

I bet if I give you a sentence, you will immediately be able to identify its speaker. Ready?

“Dark the night is.”

Did you guess that 900-year-old pointy-eared creature, Yoda, from Star Wars? He never uttered those words in any of the movies, so what made you guess him?

Ah, his use of inversion. (Or maybe the huge photo above gave him away.)

Inversion is the reversal of normal word order in a sentence. Used to emphasize key points, it is one of the power techniques that adds intensity to writing.  Continue reading Key Words, Emphasize Them You Must

Deck the Hall with Action Verbs

In action...
In action…

With the Polar Express bearing down, there is someone who will look beautiful and calm (she finished her shopping in October) with a box of homemade, decorated cookies; presents in paper with lots of of ribbon and bows; handsome sons and pretty daughters all dressed up; and no money worries.

Then there is that woman who will trudge through Toys ’R’ Us sans makeup to find that last Frozen gift; burn her one and only batch of chocolate chip cookies; stab the air with the scissors, Psycho-style, as the gift bags run out before the pile of presents, threaten to take back the kids’ gifts when they peek in the closet, and beg the post office to lose the bills in January.

Why am I always that second woman?  Continue reading Deck the Hall with Action Verbs

Some ‘Splainin’ About Colons (the Punctuation Kind)

I Love Lucy

Did you catch the I Love Lucy Christmas Special on December 7? The one-hour show comprised “The Christmas Episode” and “Job Switching.” In the latter, Lucy and Ethel tried, but ultimately—and hilariously—failed to keep up with the chocolate factory’s conveyor belt. A poll by the Paley Center for Media named the scene the “funniest TV moment of all time.” Indeed, one of the funniest shows of all time.

One of the unfunniest things writers deal with is punctuation. No one wants to interrupt a good idea wondering whether to insert a comma. But punctuation isn’t meant to make life miserable. It’s meant to clarify meaning. Consider the following:

  • “Let’s eat, Grandma!”
  • “Let’s eat Grandma!”

For lack of a comma, the second Grandma succumbs to a cannibal cabal of grandkids.  Continue reading Some ‘Splainin’ About Colons (the Punctuation Kind)

10 Tips on Writing a Holiday Letter People Might Actually Want to Read

Reindeer Kids
Hey, Rudolph!

Happy Holidays!

How many December holidays can you name? Christmas and Chanukah, for sure. I found a page on the Internet that lists 23 monthly, 16 weekly, and 127 daily December holidays and observances. Just a few—

  • Colorectal Cancer Education and Awareness Month
  • Human Rights Week (10-17)
  • Chanukah (16-24)
  • Kwanzaa (26-1/1)
  • Day of the Ninja (5)
  • Microwave Oven Day (6)
  • International Children’s Day (14)
  • National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day (16)
  • Winter Solstice! (21)
  • Christmas (25)
  • Make Cutout Snowflakes Day (27)
  • No Interruptions Day (31)

So are you sending cards? There’s an app (or 50) for that.  Continue reading 10 Tips on Writing a Holiday Letter People Might Actually Want to Read