Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Common Problems (Part 27 of 50)

Avoid the use of absolutes—unless you mean without exception. You can usually delete the absolute and not change the intended meaning.

* You know how I’ve always felt about going into debt. (Always? Since the moment of birth?)

* All Twinkles ever wanted was… 

* He made his every movement appear as. . . 

* This morning, all he wanted to do. . . 

* Weekends were always busy. (If there was one un-busy weekend, always isn't always.) 

* I walked around with total freedom. 

* Joy is what this life is all about. (Is there nothing else in life?) 

* Every one of my married friends told me. (Are you sure that without exception every married friend told you?) 

* Every human makes mistakes. (Here the absolute is correct.) 

I avoid absolutes 
or delete them when I spot them in writing.

* * * * * * * * * *

Cec's new book, Unleash the Writer Within, is now available.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Common Problems (Part 26 of 50)

Write biblical references correctly. At the end of the quotation, insert a parenthesis, the reference, translation, and close the parenthesis. Some publishers put a comma between the reference and the translation.

* "The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing" (Psalm 23:1 CEB). (Lord appears in small caps. You can find the icon on your tool bar under Tools/customize/commands.)

* "When God began to create the heavens and the earth—" (Genesis 1:1 CEB).

Above I wrote biblical without a capital letter. This is also true with godly because they are used as adjectives and not as nouns. 

I write biblical references correctly.

* * * * * * * * * *

Cec's new book, Unleash the Writer Within, is now available. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Common Problems (Part 25 of 50)

Don't be afraid of contractions. Otherwise, the writing sounds stilted. Write the way people talk.

* Could you not have spared me this disgrace?
* He was not surprised. It was not my first arrest.
* The sailors on that ship did not believe in the God of the Jews.

If you're writing an academic paper, don't use contractions. If you write dialog and want to show a formal, stuffy individual, don't use contractions.

We write for the general public 
and we keep our language informal.

* * * * * * * * * *

Cec's new book, Unleash the Writer Within, is now available.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Common Problems (Part 24 of 50)

Use inclusive language. (Man no longer means humanity. Be sensitive to the role of women.) 

* The first generation of man. . .

* Manning [staffing] the helm as we crossed a stretch of the Atlantic Ocean. . .

* A family of Orientals [Asians] lives across the street from us.

We no longer use ethnic slurs, so let's be consistent. (We used to write racial slurs.)

Because we are sensitive writers,
we avoid offending individuals.

* * * * *

Cec's new book, Unleash the Writer Within, is now available.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Common Problems (Part 23 of 50)

Who speaks is usually less important than what the person says, especially if there are only two people present. 
  • Paps began. “At the beginning of time, when the Great One created all that. . ."
  • Rose asked, "Why are you here?"
Neither of the above is wrong, but it would be better to place the emphasis on what the speaker says by putting the quote first. We often don't need to designate the speaker each time. Once we know that two people are involved, we could add beats instead of speaker's names. Or, as you see below, we know the identity of the second speaker.
      Suppose Hubert comes to Rose's door.
      "Why are you here?" Rose asked.
      "I've missed you," Hubert said. "Every day."
      "You expect me to believe that?" She started to close the door.
      "Just listen to me. Please."

When I write dialog, I ask myself,
"What is the most important to emphasize?"
* * * * *
Cec's new book, Unleash the Writer Within, is now available.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Common Problems (Part 22 of 50)

Watch your use of toward/towards and backward/backwards. With the "s" is British; American is without the "s." 
  • She limped towards her bedroom door.
  • I remember only one occasion when I showed anger towards a friend.
  • Count backwards from ten before you speak.
This isn't what I call a serious error, but it's one of those little things that serious, skilled writers try to avoid.
In the same way is the spelling of words such as gray. The Brits use grey and Americans write gray (unless it's a surname). Except in older poems and hymns, we don't read Saviour, although they still do in the UK.

Even small things are important 
if I want to become an excellent writer.

* * * * *
Cec's new book, Unleash the Writer Within, is now available.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Common Problems (Part 21 of 50)

 Identify it in your sentences.  Writers get so caught up in their writing they don't always make it clear to readers.
·         A train whistle blows as it rocks past and I look up. (Grammatically, it is the whistle that rocks.)
·         Good health begins with daily exercise. Watch for the ways it will change you. (What will change you? health or exercise?)
* * * * *
Cec's new book, Unleash the Writer Within, is now available.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Common Problems (Part 20 of 50)

 Use italics for the titles of books, movies, TV programs, and magazines.
  • "Gone With the Wind" served as the theme for those five weekends.
  • In the movie, "The Dark Knight. . ."
  • Growing up, my favorite TV series was "Eight Is Enough."
All three are incorrect. It's Gone With the Wind. In pre-computer days, we underlined because typewriters wouldn't make italics. Editors understood the underlinings.
When we refer to chapters, poems, segments of a TV series, we use quotation marks.
My favorite poem is "Alone" by Edgar Allan Poe.
            Weekends with Larry aired a piece called, "Five Good Movies to Watch."
* * * * *
Cec's new book, Unleash the Writer Within, is now available.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Common Problems (Part 19 of 50)

Avoid comic-book writing. We also call it sound-effects writing. Even though some writers use sound effects, it shows lack of care about the craft. Such sentences say, "It's good enough and I don't need to work hard." It takes more effort (and creativity) to show, but it's also better writing.
  • Snap. Crackle. Pop. [These 3 words are also a cliché.] 
  • The gun went bang. 
  • Slap! Her faced burned from the print of his hand. 
Not only does comic-book writing show sloth, but writers assume that everyone understands what bang or Slap means. For readers to connect with the prose, we need clarity. We can express the noise of a fired gun in many ways. Our word choice guides readers to interpret the intended meaning.

Just as bad is that some writers WRITE IN ALL CAPS.

"WHAT DO YOU WANT?" he screamed.


I assume this is again the mark of the unsure writer who wants to make certain that readers get the emphasis. All caps insults readers by saying, "Because you aren't clever enough to understand, I'll write in all caps."

Readers are as bright (or brighter) than we are; 
we write in clear language so they can visualize what we mean.

* * * * *

Cec's new book, Unleash the Writer Within, is now available.