March 27, 2015

Agreement: The basics


Subject verb agreement can be one of the more challenging aspects of writing. While short clauses provide for an easily identifiable subject, longer clauses with extensive phrases can make proper subject verb agreement more of a challenge. The … [Read more...]

It’s not just that I care. I’m right.


Last night my sister-in-law called me to a share her frustration with an editorial in the local paper. The thing is, she wasn't calling to discuss the content of the piece, but rather to confirm that a distracting word choice in the conclusion was, … [Read more...]

Writing: Misplaced Modifiers

The key to avoiding (or removing) wayward modifiers is to attend to the meaning and purpose of EVERY word in a sentence. If you cannot explain what the word or phrase is doing, why use it. It's the nutritional equivalent of eating berries off of an … [Read more...]

Writing: Clarity


For writers, words are tools. With every word, phrase, clause and sentence we use, we should be asking, "Is this the right tool for the job? Is the way we have written the sentence the clearest, most concise way to express what we are trying to … [Read more...]

Writing: Conciseness

Make your words count. Don't muddy your writing with jargon, unclear construction and repetition. REDUNDANCIES AND WORDINESS Mutual cooperation cooperation needless to say then why say it? Completely … [Read more...]

Writing: Accuracy


As journalists and writers, it is our responsibility to use language with sense and sensitivity. Unintentionally sexist language: Sexist language excludes or demeans one gender or another on the basis of sex. Because of the number of words that we … [Read more...]

Think Structure BEFORE you write


Almost every writer, in one way or another, asks the question, What do I want to say? Unfortunately, too many nonfiction writers do so without giving a second thought to how they are going to say it. Instead, when it comes time to create, they … [Read more...]

Once is more than enough


Almost no one eats the same for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Most of us pick up the remote when we realize we have already seen the episode on the screen. And we can probably all agree that if the local department store only carried socks, we would … [Read more...]

Small Things that Matter #2: Redundancy

I am a big fan of Ace of Cakes, the pseudo-reality drama on the Food Network. The folks who make up Charm City Cakes are my kind of creative geniuses. Each episode, the quirky band of decorators is faced with the cake world’s version of a story to … [Read more...]

Small Things That Matter #1: “If” vs. “Whether”

I have decided to begin a new series of posts entirely dedicated to the little BUT IMPORTANT elements of English writing that seemed to have disappeared from the K-12 system I am starting with “if” and “whether” not because I think it is the most … [Read more...]