Category: The Craft

Jan 30 2017

Editing Quotes

These have all been turned into Memes on my Facebook page. I found them here.

“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”
― Dr. Seuss

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

“Put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.”

(Casual Chance, 1964)”
― Colette

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”
― Richard Bach

“Making love to me is amazing. Wait, I meant: making love, to me, is amazing. The absence of two little commas nearly transformed me into a sex god.
― Dark Jar Tin Zoo, Love Quotes for the Ages. Specifically Ages 19-91.

“When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.”
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”
― Shannon Hale

“I’ve found the best way to revise your own work is to pretend that somebody else wrote it and then to rip the living shit out of it.”
― Don Roff

“Writing without revising is the literary equivalent of waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear.”
― Patricia Fuller

Jan 09 2017

Writing Tips for January 9, 2017

From Facebook on January 3, 2017:

One way to make sure what you’ve written makes sense is to read it out loud. Sometimes our physical ears can pick up on something our “silent reading ears” miss.

Big words won’t make you sound smart if your audience doesn’t understand what they mean — you’ll just sound pretentious. Make sure you know who your audience is so that you don’t overestimate them — or underestimate them!

Singular “they” can be grammatically correct, but it may not be acceptable depending on where you’re writing for. Always check to see if there’s a style guide, and if need be you can ask your editor!

Do you have any tips and tricks you’d like to share? Let me know via the comments here! You’ll get credit when I share it with the world!

Sep 12 2016

Writing Tips :: Semicolons and Colons

This is a topic that I am not going to delve into too deeply today, but there are a few simple rules that I want to outline briefly.

A colon (:) draws attention to something and is most often used to set off a list or an example. It basically says “look at this” and it either separates two independent clauses (so you could change it to a period and it would make sense) or sets off a list, as below.

I finished the grocery list yesterday: eggs, milk, and bread are definitely on it!

I learned something new today: hummingbirds are really territorial!

A semicolon (;) is different from a colon. It still draws attention to something, but you shouldn’t use it instead of a colon. Rather, you can use it to delineate items in a list (particularly if one or more of the items uses commas) or use it to separate a dependent clause from an independent clause.

I had several stops to make before I could go home: the toy store for a birthday present for my niece; the shoe store for a pair of sandals and some new sneakers; and the grocery store for eggs, milk, and bread.

I have always loved to read; one sign is that I usually have more than one book on the go at a time!

I could get into more detail about how to know which to use, but this brief explanation is enough for now. Don’t neglect these two wonderful pieces of punctuation; they are often forgotten or used improperly, and it’s truly a shame!

Jul 11 2016

Writing Tips :: Plural vs Singular

If you have more than one of something, that is plural. If you have just one of something, that is singular.

I know this seems really simple, and it is; the thing is, there are little rules that apply when you write about more than one thing.

For example, you do need to pay attention to your verb conjugation. I touched on this in the verb conjugation post back in January.

You also need to make sure you pluralize your nouns properly. Most words can be pluralized by adding an “s” to the end, but some are irregular in this regard. For example, moose = moose; goose = geese; man = men; child = children; and mouse = mice. Meanwhile, noose = nooses; can = cans; and house = houses.

Adjectives don’t need to be adjusted, though. “The green tree blew in the wind.” is just as correct as “The green trees blew in the wind.”

It’s funny how things that we think of as being really easy can turn out to be really difficult!

Jun 20 2016

Word Addiction :: Systemic vs Systematic

I see people saying “systematic oppression” when I am pretty sure (based on context) they men “systemic oppression.”

Systemic oppression is oppression by the system, due to the way the system works.

Systematic oppression is oppression that happens regularly in a particular way.

So systemic oppression can be systematic.

But yeah, when you’re talking about ableism due to the way society thinks of disability, that’s systemic oppression because it’s from/by the system.

I know, confusing. And go ahead and keep using the word that works for you. I just know some people will care and will appreciate the information. 🙂

Jun 13 2016

Writing Tips :: Commas

A few years ago I realized that I was a chronic comma-over-user. Since most of the things I edit are written by people who have the opposite problem, I didn’t really notice it until someone else pointed it out to me. Now I check whenever I want to put in a comma. They aren’t always necessary, though there are a few instances where I will always add them.

Commas and lists

Commas are great in lists because they show where each list item ends and begins. I can take a grocery list like this:


and turn it into a sentence like this:

I need eggs, milk, cheese, and macaroni.

Commas and ‘and’

One mistake I see a lot is people putting a comma before the word “and” no matter what. That’s actually incorrect. “And” is a conjunction, so it is often preceded by a comma, but it isn’t always necessary. Also, while I am a fan of the Oxford Comma (the comma that goes before the last item in a list — see my above grocery list for an example), you do have to be judicious about where that final comma really goes.

Let’s take a couple of examples.

I closed the door behind me and checked my pockets to make sure I had the keys.

Sarah wrote her name at the top of her paper, opened the test booklet, and began to answer questions.

Billy wasn’t sure he wanted to go on the airplane because it was so loud, and besides, he didn’t need to go to Florida anyway.

Okay, so the first example doesn’t need a comma before the “and” because the two actions are connected. The second example does because it’s a list of actions. The third example does because “and besides” is an interjection; if you took out “besides” you might not need the comma!

Commas and ‘but’

“But” is also a conjunction, but it almost always has a comma before it (like in this sentence).

The computer started to boot but it hung on the loading screen, as usual.

The cat was purring loudly, but its bristling tail indicated its discomfort with the situation.

Commas for breathing

The most interesting advice for commas that I have ever been given was to put them in where I expect the reader to breathe. That’s not actually how to do it, but it’s an interesting idea and why I’m adding it here! If I did that, I would probably use commas even more rarely. I think if you’re going to do this, you should save it for when you’re writing dialogue.

In reality, the proper use of a comma (aside from marking items in a list) is to indicate the end of a clause. A clause is part of a sentence that has a subject (the noun that the sentence is about) and a predicate (the verb and something about the subject). There are two types: independent and dependent. An independent clause can be its own sentence, but a dependent clause can’t. So a comma (often with a conjunction) is used to connect two clauses. You can connect an independent clause with another independent clause, or you can connect an independent clause with a dependent clause (the dependent clause can go before or after the independent one, but you don’t need a comma if you put the independent clause first). Here are some examples:

Peter drew a tree, and it was green. [Independent clause, Independent clause]

Sally ran home with her new puppy. [Independent clause Dependent clause]

Although the bell rang on time, Faith stayed in her seat to finish her work. [Dependent clause, Independent clause]

Clear as mud, right? Happily I am here to help! If you need help understanding commas in your writing, fill out my contact form and let me know!

Jun 08 2016

June 2016 :: Business

May was a busy month. Near the end of the month my husband left for a week for Denmark and Sweden for a work conference. The day after he got back, I came down with a horrible cold that still hasn’t quite gotten all better yet! (It’s been a week and a half, I’m tired of coughing.)

I ran an editing workshop on June 4 that I think went pretty well. The next one I’ll be doing is on characterization and character voice, so keep an eye out for more information on that.

If you have a project that you would like me to work on, or a writing-related workshop you would like me to give, please fill out the contact form! If you quote JUN2016 I will give you a 10% discount!

May 16 2016

Word Addiction :: Role model vs modelling behaviour

A role model can model behaviour, but nobody can “role model” behaviour. The reason is that the term “role model” is a noun (i.e., a person, place, or thing), not a verb (i.e., an action). The word “model” can be either a noun or a verb. People model clothing for catalogues, and they are called models. Once you modify the word “model” and turn it into “role model,” however, you have made it a noun, and it cannot be used as a verb, because that is not its grammatical function.

Don’t take my word for it, though. Here are the definitions of both terms, from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary:

role model noun: a person whose behavior in a particular role is imitated by others
Examples of ROLE MODEL
Athletes should remember that they are role models.
First Known Use of ROLE MODEL
model noun
1 obsolete : a set of plans for a building
2 dialect British : copy, image
3 : structural design <a home on the model of an old farmhouse>
4 : a usually miniature representation of something; also : a pattern of something to be made
5 : an example for imitation or emulation
6 : a person or thing that serves as a pattern for an artist; especially : one who poses for an artist
7 : archetype
8 : an organism whose appearance a mimic imitates
9 : one who is employed to display clothes or other merchandise
10 a : a type or design of clothing; b : a type or design of product (as a car)
11 : a description or analogy used to help visualize something (as an atom) that cannot be directly observed
12 : a system of postulates, data, and inferences presented as a mathematical description of an entity or state of affairs; also : a computer simulation based on such a system <climate models>
13 : version 3
14 : animal model
Examples of MODEL
She’s building a model of the Earth for science class.
a plastic model of the human heart
We’ve improved on last year’s model, making the car safer and easier to control.
He bought one of the old 1965 models.
We couldn’t afford one of the fancy TVs and had to buy the standard model.
We’ve developed a computer model of the economy to predict what will happen in the future.
Companies are developing new business models.
First Known Use of MODEL
model transitive verb
1 : to plan or form after a pattern : shape
2 archaic : to make into an organization (as an army, government, or parish)
3 a : to shape or fashion in a plastic material; b : to produce a representation or simulation of <using a computer to model a problem>
4 : to construct or fashion in imitation of a particular model <modeled its constitution on that of the United States>
5 : to display by wearing, using, or posing with <modeled gowns>
intransitive verb
1 : to design or imitate forms : make a pattern <enjoys modeling in clay>
2 : to work or act as a fashion or art model
Examples of MODEL
The faces of the gods were modeled in white stone.
They’re modeling this year’s new spring fashions.
She got a job modeling shoes for a catalog company.
a fashion model who has angered animal lovers by modeling fur coats
First Known Use of MODEL
model adj
1 : serving as or capable of serving as a pattern <a model student>
2 : being a usually miniature representation of something <a model airplane>
Examples of MODEL
Our university has a model program for training its athletes.
<why can’t you be like your sister, who is such a well-behaved model child?>
First Known Use of MODEL
May 09 2016

Writing Tips :: Apostrophes

The apostrophe is a great piece of punctuation. It can show possession and it can show when we’ve eliminated letters from words, things like that. So let’s get down to it.


For a single person (or thing), you want to use an apostrophe-s to show possession: “Sally’s shoes were brown.”

If the word ends with an s but is singular, you don’t have to use the apostrophe-s but check with whomever you are writing for because which is correct depends on what has been decided by the higher-ups, assuming they care. (People often don’t care about punctuation. It’s sad but true.)

For a group of people (or things), the apostrophe goes after the s: “The clowns’ shoes were red.”

If the word doesn’t end with an s but it is still plural (like “people”), you use an apostrophe-s: “The people’s voices rose and fell in the train car.”

And just to be confusing, the word “its” (without an apostrophe) is already possessive: “Its food was in the bowl.”

Eliminated Letters

Here’s a list of a few examples of this. I’m sure that as you look around you’ll see where apostrophes have been added in place of other letters.

do not = don’t

continued = cont’d

Saskatoon = S’toon

you will = you’ll

I hope this has been enlightening for you — good luck with your future use of apostrophes!

Mar 21 2016

Word Addiction :: and/or

It’s “and/or” not “and or”; the slash means it could be and but it could be or, and if you leave it out it loses that and just looks ridiculous.

I totally get that this happens because when we’re talking we don’t say the slash, we just say “and or” so people write what they say. But I thought I’d put this out there so people know, at least.

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