Writing Tips at a Glance

93
3881
views

Fledgling writers would do well to invest in a good, straightforward book on grammar and punctuation, put dictionary.com on speed dial, and improve their skills through daily practice with close attention to the mechanics of good writing. By “daily practice,” I don’t mean continuing to write with the same bad habits as always – that only cements them further.

If you are thinking, “But I am not a writer and don’t really want to be one,” consider this: Writing is communicating. Communicating is “a meeting of the minds.” Communicating clearly, globally, is key to understanding. Understanding leads to caring, and caring is key to world peace. So there you have it, folks: Good writing is key to world peace. You owe it to yourself, and indeed, the whole world, to brush up on your skills.

At a Glance?

I can’t fix world peace problems in a single post. But let me point out a few things that can act as an “instant facelift” or “weird wrinkle trick” to smooth out the rough spots in your writing. Be sure to click the links here for more detailed help on each point.

Titles

  • Use title case. Or don’t. But at least be consistent. Do not sprinkle capital letters around randomly; there’s a time and a place for capitalization.
  • If your title is a question, then make it a proper question. Remember, in writing there is no verbal inflection – no audible clue that a sentence is a question. A question mark slapped on the end of an ordinary declarative sentence just makes it look like you don’t know what you’re doing.
    • Incorrect: How I Got 1500 Backlinks in a Month?
    • Correct: How Did I Get 1500 Backlinks in a Month?
  • Do not use hyperbole unless your post can truly deliver the goods, or unless you intend an ironic effect. “How to Make a Million Bucks with Your Blog While You Sleep” is (unfortunately) grossly misleading hyperbole. You’ll just end up annoying readers. They won’t come back to your blog, unless it’s to point and laugh and link to you as an example of “How Not to Blog.”

Structure

Keep your post’s structure simple. Try the basic Three Point Five Paragraph Essay. Without structure for your writing, it’s easy to get lost – to ramble incoherently from point to point, and back again at random. Structure helps the reader to follow your ideas, as well. Use headings and lists and plenty of “white space” to give your readers’ eyes a rest and provide them visual cues to structure.

Sentences

Sentence structure, likewise, is important. You should know the basic rules of grammar before you choose to break them; breaking them should always be a choice, not an accident. One way to avoid amateurish writing is to strip each sentence down to its most basic parts: subject, verb, and predicate.

  • Make sure each sentence has subject/verb agreement:
    • Incorrect: They has great tips to help you blog better.
    • Correct: They have great tips to help you blog better.
  • Pay attention to verb tense – think about it logically, and use the tense that best describes whenthe action takes place (simple past, present, or future will usually do the job just fine):
    • Incorrect: In this post, I would be telling you these things…
    • Correct: In this post, I will tell you…
      • Simple Past: They walked
      • Past Perfect: They had walked
      • Simple Present: They walk
      • Present Perfect: They have walked
      • Future: They will walk
      • Future Perfect: They will have walked
  • Use pronouns clearly. They (the pronouns) should clearly relate to the nouns for which they (again, the pronouns – not the nouns) stand in proxy.
    • Incorrect: When Susie and Sally talked, she said that she liked him.
      Does “she” refer to Susie or to Sally? Who does “him” refer to??
    • Correct: When Susie talked to Sally, she said that she liked Robert.
      Susie is the subject of the sentence – “Susie talked” – and therefore, “she” clearly relates back to Susie. Unless Robert has been introduced in the previous sentence, it’s better to use his name here.
  • If anyone’s ever taught you to “put a comma everywhere you take a breath,” they’re an idiot. I know people who joyfully sprinkle commas through their writing like confetti; those of us who attempt to read it aloud end up hyperventilating and passing out. There are rules for comma usage. Learn them. You could live your entire life without semicolons; even here, I could have used a period instead. But commas are important.
  • Use articles. NOT article marketing – the type of article I’m talking about is a type of adjective: a, an, or the.

Now Edit!

There’s a saying among writers: “Murder your darlings.” Of all those precious words we struggle to write, about 60-75% are worth keeping. Go back through your work and see if you can’t cut about 30-40% of it without losing essential meaning – and see if the writing’s not tighter, clearer, and better for it. You use Twitter, right? Try crafting the perfect statement – a grammatically correct statement – in 140 characters. Here are a few things to seek out and destroy: Unnecessary modifiers and vague examples.

Modifiers

Adjectives and adverbs are wonderful things, but they can also turn a good piece of writing into an unreadable mess, if improperly used or overused. First, use them only if they add meaning. Weak adjectives, like “nice” or “pretty,” and weak adverbs “very,” or “actually,” don’t add much.

Be Specific!

Don’t throw vague non-facts at readers. “A lot of people say” doesn’t mean much. Is that three of your closest friends? 50% of all doctors? A third of elementary school teachers in London? Specificity gives context.

Avoid writing, “and so on,” or “and much, much more,” or “etc.” If you want to give a few examples, fine; make examples specific, and introduce them properly, but don’t trail off at the ends of sentences with vague hints of unsaid things. If the “much more” is important, mention it. Otherwise, it sounds like a tired Marketing cliché.

Grab Your Reader’s Attention From the Start

The Hook

You have three sentences, at most. One or two seconds of a reader’s attention span. What are you going to tell the reader? Why should they care?

Your Tone

Be careful in the overall “tone” of your writing that you don’t sound too preachy or too arrogant. If you are giving advice, try not to accuse your readers of doing everything all wrong. Perhaps they are already following your good advice, and your tone will cause them to rebel and do the opposite! Better to use examples from your own personal experience than to assume others do this or that. World peace is not won by triggering unnecessary rebellion, but by establishing common ground and enabling people to relate to you and to each other.

 

An excellent resource, if you’re interested in learning more about the mechanics of good writing, is the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL).

93 COMMENTS

  1. I totally agree with you about watching the grammar. There is nothing more distracting than poor grammar in an article. Plus, it really makes you wonder if the person knows what they are talking about.

    • I’ve mellowed a bit, over the years, Samuel – but what a lot of writers fail to realize (and bloggers ARE writers, unless they’re simply contracting the work out to others) is that there’s a magic balance between personality, knowledge, and writing skill. A lot of one can sometimes make up for some lack in another – but that only goes so far. I’ll work harder to read a post by someone I know and trust and consider an expert. I’ll work harder to read a post by someone I LIKE. But I’m as lazy and short attention-spanned as the next reader; I won’t work if you haven’t convinced me, yet, that you are a really GREAT person or have expert knowledge or answers I NEED.

  2. As far as I know, you are the most qualified writer who could write on this topic, Holly – since you are a writer. As a blogger, I don’t pay that much attention to these things – yes, they are important and we still need them. As I say it, take care of them, but don’t worry over them 😀

    Thanks for sharing the awesome information, Holly. I am not that great, when it comes to grammar. I do use things like “Etc” instead of being specific – sometimes, it is just that I can’t find any other examples and other times, I feel I have provided enough examples and details for readers to understand.

    Oh, congrats to Abhi for switching over to WordPress 😉 Good luck with the future of your blog, Abhi. You are doing great, I should say you are doing a better job than most of us.

    Thanks anyways,

    Jeevan Jacob John

    • He Jeevan,

      Good to see you here! And you said it right, she is the one who could write something like this. 😀

      Thank you for your wishes. I hope my blog will grow better with WordPress.

      Thank you for your kind words, Jeevan! Let me know if you can suggest anything, about WordPress (plugins or something).

      • Hey Abhi…

        I m just gone a welcome you on WordPress platform now your blog looking more matured.By the Way Holly nice post I agree with your point too grab visitors attraction from start of your post.

        • Thanks, Rizwan! I hope I managed it – I suppose I did, since you’re mentioning the point made (ironically?) at the END of my post. 🙂 Couldn’t resist sticking that at the end, given how often it appears first in a list of blogging tips. It’s important, though – that first second or two, whether it’s a blog post or a typed manuscript on the acquisitions editor’s desk – is critical. It’s where readers are won or lost. But the rest of the writing has to deliver the goods, too.

    • Jeevan, try never to use “etc.,” but if you must – don’t capitalize it and always put a period after it. I can’t think of many times when it’s needed, can you? Next time you catch yourself using “etc.” in a sentence, try rewriting the sentence. For example:

      Vegetables include celery, spinach, zucchini, etc.
      Vegetables include edible plants, such as celery, spinach, and zucchini.

      Which one gives you better info? You could write the first exactly as is, leave off “etc.,” and it would be just as accurate and just as informative. It’s okay if you cannot find any additional examples, just end the sentence.

      Or you could introduce your list of things with more specificity (e.g., “edible plants, such as…”) and ADD information for your reader. Using “etc.” here would just be superfluous. Unless you plan to list all the vegetables in the world, 3 examples will usually suffice.

      If you cannot think of three, then maybe “and many, many more” would be an exaggeration. Admit that there are others – or that you think there are others – but that the reader may have to do additional research because you cannot think of any offhand. At least that’s honest, and adds to your credibility.

  3. Wonderful sharing. Totally agree with all points. To grab the attention of reader from start is very important. And all these points will really help.
    Thanks for sharing important information.

  4. I mostly focus more on the Titles as these are very important so that the readers like the Title and reads the Article. Also as Holly Listed Structure is also very important, the post must have Sub Headings.

    • Mahendra, focusing on titles and headings is good – it’s the first VISUAL impression you’ll make to new readers. But take care – if that’s the main or only focus, it’s like those fake foods you sometimes see at restaurants – you know, the ones that look wonderful and make your mouth water for dessert, but are actually made of inedible plastic. Be sure to focus at least as much on the content.

  5. Hello Holly 🙂

    I really appreciate work. It’s worth bookmarking.
    Use title case: This is really essential case. Once decided to go in lower, upper or flexible case then maintaining that style consistently is important.

    • Agreed. I really like traditional title case for titles and headings. But I recognize that “house style” may differ; the important thing is to be consistent. Random sprinkling of capital letters, or arbitrary capitalization of nouns (not proper nouns, but all nouns) is weird.

  6. Hi Holly,

    Excellent post covering many things specially the links to explain the things in detail.Abhi got the right mentor to direct his hard work in right direction.Spell check would have made the post near to completion as I have seen many bloggers miss on that as well.

    Thanks
    Regards

    • Neeraj, thank you. I enjoy mentoring Abhi, and I learn from him as well. I think that it does us all good to reach out and make friends beyond our own little close-knit communities and borders, don’t you?

      I hear you on spellcheck, and I agree – to a point. I actually have very mixed feelings about spell-check and machine translation tools. They are improving by leaps and bounds, every year. And yet…

      I’m half convinced that the two together will spark WWIII. Why? Unless people realize that the spellcheck results are likely to contain inaccuracies and that machine translation is only as good as the inputs it’s been given to work with, and understand that all they’re getting is an approximation, maybe, of what’s been said or written, misunderstandings will abound. We have them between people who speak the same language and write impeccably in that language.

      This is one reason it’s usually SO easy for me to spot “spun” content and comments – a thesaurus, in the hands of a novice learner of English, can be a dangerous tool. And how does your average spellchecker know if you meant their, they’re, or there? (Some do recognize the problem in context, given the surrounding grammar, but it’s difficult.) There is really no substitution for study and for having a little human guidance along the way.

      I use spellcheck, but I look for the red squiggles and use my own best judgement – did I make a typo? Was my grammar correct? The choice is always my responsibility. And about seventy percent of the time, I end up ignoring the proposed correction, unless it’s just a typo. I’m pretty sure that Word would have told me, in that last sentence, that it’s never okay to start a sentence with a conjunction. 🙂

  7. Hey Holly,

    I completely agree with you that when we tell or teach someone we learn many things from them as well.You think perfectly and I have made many friends like Brankica,Bill
    Mullin,Samker ,Abhi and list is countless.I am also thinking if ever I will become a full
    time programmer ( that I will be for sure ) will develope a website for bloggers,tried to buy bloggersworld(dot)com but its already registered :(.Suggest me a good name if any,comes to your mind.

    I guess we got a confusion here,my mistake.I did not mean to use a spell check software
    here directly ( like copying the post and pasting it in the software for errors ) rather I was
    referring to cross check the spellings with a software like word web ( I use it and mention the same on my blog) after wrting the post with a quick go through from start to end to correct any errors like writing recieve instead of receive ( I do many mistakes while writing when I feel sleepy ).

    I agree to the fact that there is no substitution for study and I meant the same that doing spell check by studying the post once again after writing using the method explained above but I again accept the mistake that couldnt explain it in previous comment.

    I dont trust those red lines blindly but must admit that I am highly impressed by your post style for example whatever you wrote above in your post,one can clearly see the applied things in your comments ( good to revise things in your comments ).It gives a clear idea that you know about the topic you wrote above.I own a tech blog and see many things over net that people write about technical stuff which they never went through or ever experienced ( copy – paste stuff ).I came to your blog twice or thrice but I guess landed on the wrong post that was not of my interest so dint subscribe and we never got a chance to exchange views via comments.One more thing is your pic in the comments is damn cute that reminds me of a character from one of the Harry Potter series.Now time to sleep,its already 2.30 am here.Good Night.I guess this is the lengthiest comment I have ever written anywhere and broke all my comment records on Brankica`s blog.

    Regards

    • Neeraj, you make me smile – your honesty is refreshing. I am not hurt that you didn’t find my blog interesting (I feel the SAME way about so many blogs I run across, but sometimes enjoy exchanging comments with their authors on “neutral ground”). It’s quite all right! I have readers who get very mad at me when I indulge in “metablogging” (blogging about blogging) and I don’t blame them. There are millions out there who do it better than I do, and it’s not what they come to my place to read!

      I thought maybe you used the spellchecker carefully, but wanted you (and other readers) to understand why I didn’t include it. Not everyone is diligent or willing to put in the effort to learn. In that case, it’s no fun to put in any effort to teach, either. I used to teach coworkers how to create WinHelp, using nothing but Microsoft Word and the Help compiler. Never mind that there were “authoring tools” to make it easy – if you are a programmer (or a car mechanic), then you know that such tools can be a godsend, to eliminate the tedious and repetitive stuff – but if you don’t know what goes on “under the hood,” and something goes wrong or your tool breaks, you’re lost. That’s how I feel about grammar and spelling checkers. Study first, then use them as a proofreading aid, just to flag possible errors. Don’t rely on them as gospel truth.

      • Holly,

        I dint say that I did not find your blog interesting rather I meant to say the post I landed on your blog wasnt of my interest and as you have not installed any related post plugin like n-relate I dint get a chance to click on something ( guess call of action problem was there ).Your comments show how impessive your posts would be if its of reader interest.

        I visited your blog twice or thrice via comment section from either Brankica,Ileane,Ana Hoffman or may be via Blog Engage and as you know that via comment form a particular post opens in front of visitors.Let me give an example here as I am a Tech blogger I write on different stuff including Windows,Linux so if anyhow you landed on a post free Antivirus for Linux you wont be interested in that incase you are not a Linux user however if the landed post would be free Antivirus for Windows or if it would be in related posts under free AV for Linux you will take some interest as it will help in saving few $$.Hope I made myself clear by now.

        I agree with you just we got a confusion here on spell checker.

        Regards

      • Same is right for me Neeraj!

        And I am missing YOU in my party, my best supporter. 😀

        I’m leaving behind, where’s the one who always there to support me. I can’t see her. 🙁 If you find her, let her know than I need her. 🙂

        • ARE you? I thought you were over there quietly beating the tar out of me, Abhi! LOL You and Justin, bribing readers with his iPad3… 😉 Poor little ol’ me over here, having to survive on wits and charm alone…

          • Put it that way, he does sort of give my “weirdly competitive” a whole new meaning, doesn’t he? (It’s probably got something to do with tax implications in the U.S.; if you win an iPad3, you still owe taxes on the value of it. If you win cash, the taxes can be paid from the cash. Or reinvested in another prize to give away, at which point YOU don’t owe any taxes on it…but you still get the fun of giving something away!)

          • Yep! That’s right! But this competition is getting harder for me just like it’s harder to win that iPad with huge audience.

  8. Hey Holly,

    This post will always be a good reference to revise the things that I learnt in school long time back,I guess 12 years ago.The day you invited me to the comment chat,while I was lying on the bed before sleeping ,a new post title came to my mind 10 basic things every blogger should revise or learn as I have seen many bloggers including me missing either one or more from the list

    1 ) Noun

    2 ) Pronoun

    3 ) Adjective

    4 ) Adverb

    5 ) Verb and its forms

    6 ) Tenses

    7 ) Punctuation

    8 ) Conjunction

    9) Article

    10 ) Capitalization

    Using them in a blog post wherever required will be good as one can see in your post.I think you are the best person to write a post on this adding relevant links as you did in above post.So it was just a suggestion for your next own post or guest post.

    • Neeraj, you’re right. I tend to assume there are good resources out there already (and forget how many posts have been written and lauded on the importance of blog comments or ways to get more traffic to your blog – I tend to forget that I’ve even written on the value of writing about the same topics in different ways or different voices as being necessary, perhaps, to finally drive a point home or make it clearer). Thanks for the reminder. I’ll do this. In exchange, maybe you can help give me ideas by letting me know what grammatical points you and others struggle most with.

      • I wont say that I am perfect but I dont face as such any problem in grammer and I keep revising the things for better writing as soon ( when I will be free from my tech stuff lolz )I will be starting my other blogs on different niches once I get Genesis framework .

        I have learnt all these things in school time but to be very frank never used to speak English that much then,though my teacher always insisted on that.Now I regret a bit not much lol why I never took part in debates and essay writing competitions which would have nourished me better.

        If we talk about spoken English,I have been talking to US people for 5 years ( giving tech support ) but there is not much need of things specially punctuation and capitalization ( however nothing can be ignored while speaking as well excluding capitalization )and after the school time never written much stuff in English apart from few things,later on started writing on Experts Galaxy that too with a different goal and later on it became a different one.

        Few months back I again revised the above listed things including active-passive and narration so suggested you the same for next post.After reading your posts and comments,I am getting an inferiority complex lolz ( just kidding as experience always matters and you have more than me in writing stuff) and guess need to revise the punctuation things again that is the topic I am feeling problem with,after reading your posts ( though it may be avoided in my tech blog but not on others where I will be writing soon )

        On many blogs while surfing online the problems that I have noticed ( as mostly people are starting blogs to earn money with the priority goal )mostly were for tenses & verbs form ( major probs for people whose native language is not English ) followed by the difference and understanding of Noun,Pronouns,Adjective and Adverb which helps in title and capitalization.Then comes my area of focus after reading your posts which is punctuation ( dont know when I am gonna revise it now ),rest article problem ( may be people forgot the basic principle of vowel sound )

        So,I am not a critic here for anyone or to myself,just the idea came to my mind after reading your posts and thought you can write the best on it ( like the precise post above with the valuable links and not a complete English speaking course)instead of anyone including me lol and would be helpful for many

        Regards

        • All great suggestions, Neeraj – very helpful to me in understanding where to start. I see you suffer from the same problem of overusing parentheses as I do! Parenthetical expressions, ellipses, and the word “actually” are the bane of my writing life, most days.

          Grammar and punctuation problems are NOT unique to non-native speakers of English; the Germans who’ve learned English are often Americans’ toughest critics on this point. Rightfully so, I’m sorry to say. Then again, I hear there are so many dialects in India that it is sometimes necessary to speak English in order to understand one another there! 🙂 One Romanian I used to know online was a HUGE proponent of English as a universal language – never mind national, ethnic, or cultural sensitivity, he just wanted everyone to be able to communicate, and English seemed the most likely and pragmatic common denominator. There may be something to be said for the argument, and I’ll admit that I’d prefer that than, say, having to learn Chinese – because it’s just easier! (Too many characters to memorize, in Chinese, for one thing – and I think a single-byte character set is probably more efficient for computer programming!)

          One thing that always fascinates me is how certain grammatical errors are consistent among non-native English speakers from certain countries. People in India make very different mistakes than people in Europe or other parts of Asia or the middle east. I do sometimes wish I’d studied this more closely in college, and I enjoy teaching (though I’m not a teacher, I have taught ESL through Berlitz, many years ago).

          Definitely don’t have an inferiority complex with me. I’m only writing in English – I haven’t attempted to blog in French (which I studied for 8 years), let alone in Hindu or Chinese or Japanese or Finnish. It’s much easier to master one language than to master several!

        • Hey Neeraj,

          Would you mind if I give you a few suggestions?

          1) Leave a space after punctuation marks.

          2) Please get a gravatar associated your email. gravatar.com

  9. Hi Abhi,

    I dont mind learning new things either its from Holly, you or anyone else :). Thanks for the same I also noticed the same in above post.

    I am using the gravatar with Experts Galaxy id, I posted the above comment using a different ID and domain name to check the problem with Comluv that I am facing.

      • Its Galaxy not Gallery, Abhi. I can understand your busyness with the contest, not getting enough time for other things as you have to manage studies as well but while inviting others hope even indirectly you are not spamming anything. There is an addon WOT about which I will also post on EG, take care of that too .

          • Hi Holly,

            I am talking about the browser addon and dint know that we have a WP addon as well for the same. but how the WP addon will be helpful ? Why, what happened?

          • You just confused me – sorry! I thought you were saying there was a WP add-on, and I wondered what new tricks WOT had up its sleeve, these days. I’m quite familiar with the browser add-on.

          • Didn’t they tell you? If you were in the inner circle, you’d know already! It’s a privacy screen that pre-empts the browser add-on’s warning screen and says, “Oh, I see you’re running WOT! I’m sure you didn’t want to visit this site anyway. Nothing to see here. Move along.” 🙂 Saves everyone a good deal of trouble, yes?

          • I wish they would have informed me, even if they will release the same I dont think so it would be useful for WP platform as its already there in browser addon list.

            I was about to write long time back then read my horoscope on tarotdotcom not to write anything controversial lolz so postponed it for few months. Its a good addon but has pros and cons both. I have seen many sites that should be in green but rated red and many other including in green which should be dark red.

            Moreover I have faced a bad experience with the addon ratings without any reason but still overall its a good addon and the same will write on EG

          • It could be a good add on, but its strength is also its weakness; it is very subjective and very much at the mercy of human beings and their personal biases. There are some very conscientious folks over there, and there are (or at least there WERE) some folks with a bad attitude. I prefer to make my own judgments and I prefer that the tools to help me do it operate on unbiased criteria and algorithms.

          • Well said,its strength is also its weakness. I can understand people rating the websites as per their experience but when I went to their forum was shocked to see the so called supportive guys there ( bad attitude still there ).

            So overall its a good addon but the thing is as said in the movie ” Spiderman “, with great powers one gets big responsibilities as well and the kind of support they have over the forum I fear that it will not take much time to outdate the addon with a new one with better functionality ( dont worry its there in my to do list when I will switch to programming lolz )

  10. You are right for better English we have to keep in view some definite things which are parts and parcel for one to know, like:
    1- Know how of Grammar Tenses.
    2- Structure of the Sentence.
    3- Vocabulary Power or Word Game
    4- Punctuation and
    5- Transformation Skills.
    additionally, there are several things are left to know but what i recommend is that if you are considering these things just, be sure it is fine to learn good English.

  11. Okay, all of that hurt my head! Come on, I haven’t taken a grammar class in more than 35 years; ouch! Luckily, I do remember some of the rules from when I was in school all those years ago, even if I didn’t remember a lot of the terminology. One of the problems you have these days is that you can’t always tell people “read what you wrote out loud and you’ll hear the errors”, even though I recommend it all the time, because it seems that kids today speak differently than we did, and thus they write differently than we do and it sounds okay to them.

    I’m just glad you didn’t start talking about adverbs, which has totally escaped my mind and made me want to slap anyone that even brings it up. I’m going to go into the other room and slap myself for mentioning it. lol

    • Now, Mitch – are you really glad, or was that a hint? I’m going to take it as a hint (and you’re too far away to slap me – nanny nanny boo boo!)

      First, just for grins, let me give everyone a little LATIN lesson: ad-?is a prefix from Latin, meaning “toward” – indicating direction, tendency, or addition. So, clearly, “something in addition to a verb” and I would add, “a little word that gives a verb the tendency to go in one direction as opposed to another.” 😉 Got that fixed in your mind, now?

      It’s simple, really. “To walk” is a verb (stick “to” in front of it like that, it’s the “infinitive”). “He walks.” Simple present tense. HOW does he walk? “He walks slowly.” Slowly is an adverb.

      Now, the part that’s probably confusing you (and it confused just about everyone, ever) is that adverbs ALSO modify (add to or change the meaning of) adjectives and other adverbs. (Don’t let’s have everyone’s head explode all at once…)

      So – if the word adds to or changes the meaning of a verb (an action word like run, do, make, walk) OR another modifier (an adjective or an adverb), it’s an adverb. HOW slowly did he walk? “He walked very slowly.” Very is a what? An adverb. HOW long was her long, long hair? (Long is an adjective modifying hair.) “Her hair was extremely long.” Extremely is an adverb.

      Got that?

      • Uhhh… owww! Too bad my relatives live in Dallas instead of Houston because I’d be siccing someone on you. lol Actually, the discussion lately by “writers” (sic) has been that most of us should stop using adverbs because they’re unneeded. I’m of the opinion that if they were unneeded then they wouldn’t exist; kind of feisty of me if I say so. I think what you’ve highlighted proves there’s a place for them; I just don’t want to have to think about it any. lol

        • That discussion is as old as the grenade I love to toss into a roomful of writers: “So, what’s so wrong with passive voice, anyway?”

          Adverbs are lovely things. Without them, we’d all be writing like Hemingway, and after a while, that would be annoying.

          Adverbs are overused by amateurs; so are dialogue tags. If the dialogue itself is strong enough, you don’t NEED, “…he said deliberately, staring piercingly into her eyes while chewing slowly on a piece of rare steak.” If we choose our verbs better and set the scene better, we may be able to use more vivid images and fewer weak adverbs. Instead of “They talked quietly in the library until the Librarian shushed them angrily,” perhaps, “Though they whispered, their voices carried across the room, bounced off musty, hard-bound books, and attracted the stern attention of the Librarian, who glared them into mousy silence”?

          • That I can agree with and fully understand. It’s like the other day when a local health writer put out a sentence on FB asking if she should use “is” or “are” in her sentence. Based on how it was written I said “are”, but truth be told if it was my sentence and I had an issue with it I’d have just rewritten the sentence. Some folks never think of that. lol

          • Sometimes we ask those questions because, deep down, we know we SHOULD know the answer, and we’re trying to figure out if we’ve had a stroke. It has nothing to do with grammar.

      • Holly… You are awesome! 🙂 Just remember, whenever you feel like writing tips for better English or Grammar stuff, door of my blog is always open.

  12. world peace! yeah!

    I know I do have issues on verb tenses every now and then, both on usage and consistency. It seems to be one of my Waterloo.

    Vague isn’t really that bad… well, at least according to some people I know. 😉

  13. Vague is impressionistic. But it can also be careless, thoughtless, and a waste of other people’s time as they attempt to delve deeper, or to fact-check your assertions, or to elucidate the fleeting thought. The least you could do, Roy, is to add a specific disclaimer: “This article intentionally left vague” so that people would know you weren’t all that serious about it in the first place!

    I’m kidding. A little. But vagueness is also an easy way out when we’re feeling lazy, and I always think we writers can do better. You write poetry, too; you know the importance of word choice, concrete imagery, and specificity – you understand the economy of words.

  14. Ok, so I was here earlier! But anyway, a promise is a promise!

    I still have toruble with structure. My writing, I feel is more like “A catcher in the rye” if you’ve read it.

    I find it trouble sticking to an idea; when I am writing its like there so much in me waiting to be said that it bursts out! I have to learn to revolve around an idea and stick to it!

  15. Great advise, Holly. Now I’m a little worried to comment – what if it’s full of silly mistakes? Oh heck, I’m commenting anyway.. bear with me? 🙂 Obviously I need to work on the ‘Hook’. It’s easy to write a list post or a guide, but the ‘introduction’… Do you have any examples on that?

    • Do I… that’s almost insulting.

      Why no, Ching Ya, I don’t think I do. 😀

      ::facepalm::

      That’s one of those questions that’s best left to readers to answer. But I will suggest this: Even if you’re writing about technical specifications, give me a tasty tidbit and tell me why I should care, right up front. Twitter may actually be helping people to craft a better “hook” – there, you have only 140 characters. On a blog post, I give you 2-3 sentences before you lose a reader’s interest. If you lose is there, have you provided any other incentive to read or act? We shouldn’t have to resort to outright bribery to get people to read what we write.

    • Thanks!! Did Abhi put you up to saying that, Isaac? 🙂 I should. Abhi is a wonderful host and a good friend. I’m having trouble blogging on my OWN blog, lately, but hope to remedy that when I go on vacation.

      • Haha welcome! Now he didn’t put me up to it.. I truly meant it! By the way, I’d love it if you did a guest post on my blog, if you’re still having trouble with your own 😀

        • Hey Isaac,
          Thanks for backing me up.. lol..

          And thanks for stopping by my blog.

          Till Holly finds time to write on your blog, why don’t YOU write a guest post here. 🙂

        • Oh, I see what you did, there, Isaac – clever! It’s not technical difficulties I’m having with my own, though. It’s finding time and inspiration – which is really all that writer’s block is, in my opinion: a lack of something to say or the will to say it. I am almost on vacation, though, and that will change.

          Come on over to the linked post (below) to see how you can enter for a chance to win a free guest post. 😉

  16. Abhi!

    I’d love to write a guest post for you. I read your guest post guidelines… it seems you’re looking for blogging and SEO tips.. anything in particular you’re looking for these days, or any special angles you’d like to see from me?

    • Hello Isaac,

      You can write anything related to my blog’s theme but it should be something new. (Money making, wordpress tips, guest blogging, SEO, etc)
      Ahh one more thing… no commercial links please. 🙂 let me know if you need my help with anything.

      Thanks.

  17. Hi Holly,
    Its really good to be here,
    This is my first visit to this
    informative page, I am so
    sad to note that I am too
    late here, the way in which
    you provide the content
    is really and educative one
    lot of tips to learn from here.
    I liked the concluding one
    Your Tone! that is a good
    advise, Keep inform
    Best Regards
    Philip

Leave a Reply