Tag Archives: how to write

Today’s Writing Tip: Going to My Parents’ House

sig2010Apostrophes can be tricky and, as a manuscript editor, one of the most common errors I see is the misspelling of the term “my parents’ house.” Most of the writers that I work with are apt to spell the term “my parent’s house.” Why is that usually wrong? And when is it right?

It’s wrong because most of the time, but certainly not always, we have two parents. Therefore the apostrophe goes after the term “parents” because the house belongs to the parents. It’s like saying, “I’m going to the squirrels’ hideout.” If there is only one squirrel, we can say, “the squirrel’s hideout”; otherwise, we use the plural.

Likewise for parents. If our parents are divorced, separated, widowed or otherwise reduced from two to one, it’s appropriate and absolutely correct to write, “I went over to my parent’s house.”

But chances are you’re not going to say that because it’s pretty formal. When you’re referring to both your mother and father, you’re likely to say, “parents” whereas if you’re talking about one parent, you’ll probably say “my mom,” “my stepmom,” or “my dad.” For example, “I went to my mom’s house.”

One way to catch this mistake is to keyword your manuscript or article at the end and look for the word “parent’s.” Then you can tell if the context is correct.

Sigrid Macdonald is the author of three books, including Be Your Own Editor (http://tinyurl.com/7wnk5se), and is both a line-by-line and a content editor for books, articles, magazines, and essays. Visit her at http://sigridmacdonald.blogspot.com/

Today’s Writing Tip: Varying Your Style

sig2010Usually I read nonfiction or dramas that take place in the present day, but in the beginning of 2012 I forced myself to read seven Shakespearean plays.

I wanted to break my routine and expand my thinking. Whatever is true for reading habits is also true for writing habits. You can benefit by varying your style.

Maybe you like to write long, lyrical prose. In that case, you might want to try writing short declarative sentences like Hemingway did. If you tend to write very emotionally or persuasively, try drafting an article or something that requires research or precision instead of opinion.

It’s easy to follow our routine – even Bilbo would have preferred staying in his hobbit hole and eating scones to venturing out into the jungle, but he forced himself out of his comfort zone. And as a result he discovered all kinds of character traits that he never would have known he had. You’re probably skilled in more ways than you know. Take the great leap: walk among the wolves, bears, and goblins.

Sigrid Macdonald is an author and editor. You can find her at http://sigridmacdonald.blogspot.com/

Battle of the Freelance Advice Videos

By Joe Wallace

Normally, I’m the one bringing the snark or praise on a particular issue related to freelancing. But I think YOUR feedback is an important part of staying on top of the issues, how relevant they are, and whether a particular freelance topic is worth pursuing, discussing, etc. And I am definitely interested in your opinions on today’s topic–freelance advice videos.

I did some searching to see if there’s anything of actual use to freelancers on video in terms of advice or practical information. Here are a few things I found–you can click on them and watch right here.

My question is–which video do you think has the most credibility, and why? Is video a good way to communicate freelance advice? How do the creators of these vids succeed or fail? They are all short, and have different aesthetics and production values.

What do you think of their work?

Video one:

Compare the efforts of that video with THIS one…what do you think?

Here’s our third and final example:

Continue reading Battle of the Freelance Advice Videos

Holt Uncensored on Empty Adverbs

freelance-writing-adviceI stumbled across this great article on Holt Uncensored about common writer mistakes. The entire piece is definitely worth a look, but the payoff for me was the section on what Holt calls “empty adverbs”.  There is nothing worse than reading something stuffed with these needless words. How many times have we all gone there with descriptions of things that are “completely” or “totally” something or other, an “absolutely” such and such?

The point of the empty words screed according to the Holt Uncensored post is not that you should cut these words out of everything you write, but that more often than not the words do the opposite of what they’re supposed to do–they make the sentence bland and trite rather than calling attention to something important.

The article gives some hilarious examples of wretched writing from famous authors including Dan “The Da Vinci Code” Brown. He also skewers People Magazine (rightly so!) for their flagrant abuses of the adverb.

I’d never read Holt Uncensored til I found this post, but I’m a fan now…