All posts by Sigrid Macdonald

Today’s Writing Tip Is on Contradicting Yourself

An important part of writing is making sure that what you say is consistent. You don’t want to say one thing when you mean another.

Here’s an example: “I don’t plan on coming back, at least not for a while,” Jonathan said aloud, thinking to himself silently. That’s an obvious no-no. It’s either one or the other – you say something out loud or you think it to yourself; you don’t do both.

What other problems are there with that sentence? Redundancy. Two redundancies, in fact. It’s not necessary to say “thinking to himself” because who else was he thinking to? You could just say, “Jonathan thought.” And there is no need to say, “Thinking to himself silently” because all thoughts are silent by definition.

Usually when we make these kinds of boneheaded mistakes, it’s when we are writing our first or second draft. Don’t worry about them when you’re getting your story down. It’s when you go back to refine your blog post, article, or manuscript that you want to keep a keen eye for contradictions and redundancies.

Sigrid Macdonald is the author of three books, including Be Your Own Editor, and two erotic short stories, which she wrote under the pen name Tiffanie Good. Silver Publishing just released “The Pink Triangle,” a tale of friendship, lust, and betrayal. You can view her story here:

Today’s Writing Tip Is about Creating Conflict

Recently, I wrote a book review on Fifty Shades of Grey, the new runaway bestseller about Anastasia Steele, a naïve young woman who falls for Christian Grey, a man who can only derive pleasure from a dominant/submissive relationship. Christian is perfect in every respect except sexually; he is damaged and can only be aroused by inflicting pain. This is not exactly our dream man, but readers love the book. Why? Aside from some very steamy sex scenes, Anastasia is confused, bewildered, and ambivalent about her relationship with Christian. This creates good reading.

It makes her a three-dimensional character and provides suspense; we don’t know if she will stay with Christian. It makes her sympathetic. We feel for her dilemma. She’s crazy about him, but he’s just plain old crazy (unless you’re a fan of sadomasochism).

Thus, in real life we may prefer partners who are relatively drama free, but this would make for very boring literature. When you are developing your characters, make sure they have enough conflict, both internally, within themselves, and externally with other people.

Sigrid Macdonald is the author of three books, including Be Your Own Editor, and two erotic short stories, which she wrote under the pen name Tiffanie Good. Silver Publishing just released “The Pink Triangle,” a tale of friendship, lust, and betrayal. You can view her story here:

Today’s Writing Tip Is Take a Listen

Over the last year or two, I’ve heard a number of newscasters use the expression, “take a listen.” I don’t know where that came from. Why do we need to use two verbs? Why not just say, “Listen”?

There are other instances where people routinely use two or even three verbs. “Alejandro was going to go see his mother.” A cleaner  version of that sentence would be: “Alejandro was going to see his mother.”

Be aware when you’re using more words than necessary. Simplicity allows your message to come through clearly without any distractions.

Author of Be Your Own Editor

Today’s Writing Tip Is on When to Use He versus His

Most of the time it’s a no-brainer as to when to use he or his. “He opened the car door to get his groceries.” Simple. But what about this –

“Mark and his wife were excited about their evening; the president of the college provided theater tickets for he and his family.”

Right or wrong? Wrong.

The president provided tickets for him and his family. Whenever you’re confused about using a pronoun because of a second pronoun, just omit the second clause – “the president provided tickets for he” sounds bad. If you’re still unsure, say it out loud. What throws people off balance in this example is the combination of referring to two different people.

Read more about punctuation in my third book, Be Your Own Editor, available in print ( and now a bestseller on Kindle ( Or get 20% off the regular price by writing directly to me.

Today’s Writing Tip Is on Reliable Websites

Out of the hundreds of millions of websites that you can visit for information or research, which ones can you trust? Mark Bauerlein, author of The Dumbest Generation, says that only one percent of all searches on Google go beyond the first page. Good grief. When I google myself, I find at least 45 pages about me; if someone were to stop at the first page, they would never get to the juicy material.

Don’t join the majority here. Lots of great information may be on page three or page thirty of a Google search. Make the effort to read farther.

Also websites that are sponsored by the government and end in .gov or by universities, ending in .edu, are generally considered more reputable and less biased than site or a blog, but use your own judgment with individual sites.

The jury is out on Wikipedia, although it tends to have slightly more errors than Britannica, but both encyclopedias make mistakes. That’s why if you use either one, especially Wikipedia, always use it as a secondary source. Make sure that your original material comes from another site.

Find Be Your Own Editor on Amazon today.

Today’s Writing Tip Is about Expanding Your Vocabulary

Indefatigable… pristine… eviscerate… antithetical… arduous… enervating. What do these words have in common? We don’t see them that often.

An excellent way to improve your vocabulary and your writing is to read, read, and read some more. That way you’ll learn new words and you will also see how certain things look in print; this is particularly good for writing dialogue and punctuation.

Choose things that interest you. If you don’t like fiction, read nonfiction. If books take too much time, pick up a magazine or follow a blog dealing with a topic you really like. Or listen to a book on audio on your iPod or on CD in your car.

Don’t turn it into homework, but do find a way to incorporate new words into your daily or weekly routine.

Learn more about word usage in my third book, Be Your Own Editor. When should you use between or among, further and farther, or complement and compliment? Find out in BYOE, available on in print and now a bestseller on Kindle. (