Today’s Writing Tip

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I know I nag a lot about what the author’s job entails. If you’re fortunate enough to have a conventional publisher who provides a cadre of competent editors, then you may have the luxury of simply putting your story down for them to clean up, much as your mother may have done your laundry or cleaned up your room when you were a child.

However, if you’re an independent author, you need to be aware that proper grammar, word usage, punctuation, and so forth is YOUR JOB. Even if you hire an editor, unless you understand there are several types of editors, your work may not be at its best when it goes to press.

One thing that occurs frequently is misuse of homonyms. These are words that sound the same, yet have entirely different meanings. You can find a great list of common offenders as well as words that are often confused on Grammarly here.

Some of my pet peeves are shutter (those louvered, wooden panels you see on windows) versus shudder, which is to shake or tremble; Hanger (what you put your clothes on in the closet) versus hangar, (a building for aircraft storage); their (possessive pronouns for they) versus there (place) versus they’re (contraction for they are); lead (a type of metal or the graphite in a pencil) versus led (past of the verb to lead); whose (possessive pronoun) versus who’s (contraction for who is).

Check out the list on Grammarly. If those terms aren’t firmly implanted in your brain, bookmark the page for future reference.

Today’s Writing Tip

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Do you ever check your manuscript for over-used words? Some editing software will do this for you. Otherwise, think of words you may use too often. One I used more than I realized was massive. We all have our favorite adjectives and adverbs. Make sure you don’t wear it out.

Don’t worry about this during your first draft. That can slow down your creative flow as you get your story on paper. However, when you get to your first edit, watch for them. When one stands out, search on it so you can replace its repeated usage with as many synonyms as possible.

Today’s Writing Tip

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Keep a dictionary within easy reach of where you do your writing. It’s important to use words correctly and as accurately as possible to maximize their impact. Electronic equivalents are great, too.

If you’re a true Anglophile of the language kind, treat yourself from time to time by reading the dictionary. You’ll be surprised what you might discover! There are also various “Word of the Day” apps or services you can subscribe to for free, such as Merriam-Webster’s on Instagram.

As an author, words are the tools of your trade. Embrace and celebrate them as the treasures they are. Using exactly the right word adds considerable impact and meaning, so the more expansive your vocabulary, the stronger your writing.