14 08, 2017

Are you writing tight?

By |2017-08-13T16:00:06-05:00August 14th, 2017|Writer's Corner, writing, Writing Craft|1 Comment

These days we live in a fast-paced world. People can be impatient, especially about reading long-winded posts, emails, and texts. I’ve noticed that even fiction books seem to be shorter.

Our written communication should be clear and concise. Still, extra verbiage can slip in and most often, eliminating those words will not change the meaning.

How do we eliminate words that are simply filler that don’t add to the susbtance?

Personally, I use a weasel word list – an editing help I learned in a Margie Lawson editing workshop. It’s simply a list of words I know creep into my writing. Words like just, that, very, really, etc. Then, when I’m editing, I eliminate or replace those words.

Below is a great infographic that can help you catch extraneous words in your writing.

30 Filler Words You Can Cut Out of Your Writing (Infographic)
Source: www.grammarcheck.net

20 03, 2017

44 Words That Can Weasel into Writing

By |2017-03-03T08:18:06-06:00March 20th, 2017|Make Me Think Monday, Writing Craft|0 Comments

Writing’s hard work. Ask any writer. Good writing is harder. Sometimes weasel words can slip in.

Weasel words are “favorite” words that pop up when a writer is being lazy or rushing.

I first heard the term in a workshop with Margie Lawson. She expanded weasel words to include phrases, overused word, throw-away words, clichés and opinion words that might draw a reader from the story.

Her solution is to keep a personal weasel word list for every manuscript and when you do the edits, remove the weasels.

Grammarly created this infographic of frequently overused words to help writers eradicate such words. Margie and I would call it a weasel word list.

44 Overused Words & Phrases To Be Aware Of (Infographic)
Source: www.grammarcheck.net

26 10, 2015

Editing? 24 Commonly Misspelled Words to Check

By |2015-10-08T14:40:04-05:00October 26th, 2015|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

Last week, I discussed how using a wrong word could make readers cringe. Read that post here. Today we’re looking at the problem of misspelled words.

misspelled2Word processors, phones, and pads/tablets have spell checker apps and most word processors offer an auto correct feature to assist in editing. Still, misspellings slip into our writing and Social Media posts. When that happens our readers can think we aren’t trying to write well or do sloppy editing.

Truth is, most of us struggle with all the confusing words in the English language that are exceptions to spelling rules. Spelling bee champions seemed to be the only ones who can whiz through words most of us couldn’t even look up in the dictionary.

Check out this sentence and see how many words you can find misspelled. (HINT: There are a lot.) Ignore the fact the sentence does not make sense. We’re looking for spelling/misuse errors.

You’re acknowlegment of my atempt to accomodate enough wierd camoflage equiptment just shows a concensus would only inadvertantly embarass any seperate liason by the comittee in trying to guage an miniscule withdrawl.

Did you find fourteen spelling mistakes? What about the grammatical errors? There are some tricky English words whose spelling you just have to learn.

Here’s a list of twenty-four most commonly misspelled words that make me crazy. Should you want to see longer lists of the most commonly misspelled words in English, check here or here.

  1. accommodate                                                             13. consensus
  2. acknowledgement                                                      14. argument
  3. commitment                                                                15. deductible
  4. dependent                                                                    16. embarrass
  5. harass                                                                           17. liaison
  6. separate                                                                       18. withdrawal
  7. equipment                                                                   19. gauge
  8. lightning                                                                       20. minuscule
  9. achieve                                                                         21. committee
  10. definitely                                                                     22. surprise
  11. weird                                                                           23. camouflage
  12. existence                                                                    24. privilege

Most spell checkers should catch these for you. Maybe not.

Consider the possessive adjective Its vs the contraction it’s.  Too often my spell checker in Word advises me to write “it’s” when the context calls for its.

You shouldn’t rely on your grammar/spell checkers. I highly recommend mastering correct spellings of troublesome words yourself just to be sure.

29 05, 2013

One Word Wednesday – Editing Secrets

By |2013-05-29T05:44:25-05:00May 29th, 2013|one word Wednesday|1 Comment


Okay so instead of one word I used two. Who wants to read a blog titled editing, but a blog about editing secrets? We’re all over it!

Truthfully, I think this editing secret works for writing the novel too. Writers need to keep the reader foremost in their thoughts.

After all, writing is all about the reader. Don’t you agree?

5 03, 2012


By |2012-03-05T09:00:29-06:00March 5th, 2012|Uncategorized|6 Comments

 When I shared a recent chapter with my critique partners, one of them called me for this sentence, “He found himself in deep water.”

 She didn’t understand that my POV character’s internal thought meant he found himself in trouble. She thought I put him in a swimming pool and forgot to put that detail on the page. Another problem I have… getting what’s playing in my head accurately portrayed on the page. But that’s a topic for another blog.

Her stumbling over the phrase led to a discussion of colloquial language and how words, phrases, and even clichés vary from one geographical area to another.

 Being from Texas, we have a whole slew of regional words. I just used another one—slew, meaning a whole bunch. We’re always y’all-ing and gonna and fixin’ when we talk. Foreigners sometimes need an interpreter. Consider these colloquial phrases I’ve been known to use verbally and in my writing:

  •  hot as tin toilet seat – in Texas we know that’s HOT
  • screaming bloody murder or  screaming banshee– used to stop the  pleasant sound coming from a kid or grandkid
  • grumpy as an old sitting hen – gives a more vivid image than grumpy old men
  • bone tired – yep, been there
  • slow as molasses – can’t you just see that black syrup oozing out of the jar?
  • keep your pants on – meaning not what you think, but to be patient!

 Besides colloquialisms that slip into my first drafts, I have “favorite” words that pop up when I’m being lazy with my writing or rushing. Words like: had, that, could, was, felt, knew, thought, saw, walked, come.

“Weasel words”  Margie Lawson,  editing guru, calls these words and colloquial phrases. I learned in her deep editing class, The EDITS System, to keep a WEASEL WORD CHART listing phrases, overused word, throw-away words, clichés and opinion words. The chart is easy to populate. The words we overuse stand out like sore thumbs. (Sorry, Margie had to use a cliché to make my point.)

Then, during the revision stages, I use the chart with my word processor’s search and replace function to eliminate them.

BUT sometimes using colloquial language fits characterization. Sometimes it has a function in dialogue especially if the protagonist is a Texan or the piece is written about Texas.

 Throwing such informal colloquialism into novel narrative, on the other hand, can be a stumbling block for readers by pulling them from the story. And, then they do what no writer wants—quit reading!

If using colloquialisms is your writer’s voice, okay. I caution you to be sure your reader can understand from the scene context what you’re saying.

 REMEMBER: Our writer’s responsibility is to always make sure in the battle of words that story reigns.

 What did I do with my CP’s suggestion? Eliminate the phrase or not?

 In this case, I believed the reader could discern the meaning from the rest of the scene and left the phrase “deep water.”

Your turn:

What are your favorite colloquialisms and weasel words? Do they slip into your writing?

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