The Best of Daily Writing Tips in 2010

First of all we wish a happy 2011 to all our readers. Second, we compiled a list with our most popular posts in 2010, so that you can re-read your favorite ones and check if you missed any. Next Monday we’ll resume the writing tips, so stay tuned! What Is Irony? (With Examples): Recently I … Read more

A Person Is Not a “They.” Neither Is an Army.

So you want to be politically correct, you want to be inclusive, and you would never assume that every nurse and every teacher in the world is a “she.” Right? Right. But sometimes this worthy thought leads us to perform some very clumsy gymnastics. Consider this passage from a guide for a doctor’s front office … Read more

Rules for Capitalization in Titles

I used to think there were only two ways to use capitalization in a title: (1) Capitalize only the first word in the title (except for proper nouns), which I learned working for a local newspaper; and (2) Capitalize the principal and longer words and lowercase the minor, shorter words, which I learned was wrong. … Read more

5 Tips to Understand Hyphenated Words

The complexity of rules about those little dashes that separate many words for various reasons causes so much misunderstanding that many writers just leave them out of the recipe or spill them randomly into the mixing bowl. But your compositional cuisine need not be so undisciplined. The rules may seem complicated at first, but soon … Read more

10 Writing Exercises to Tighten Your Writing

Writing projects can be like children. You love them dearly, but sometimes they irritate you to the point that you just need a break. Working on something fresh and new can invigorate your mind and give you a new approach to your work. These exercises can work for any genre of writing, fiction and non-fiction … Read more

Afflict vs. Inflict

Although the words afflict and inflict have similar meanings and are often used in similar ways, they are far from interchangeable in modern English usage. The OED offers the following definitions of afflict: Afflict: 1. trans. To dash down, overthrow, cast down, deject, humble, in mind, body, or estate. 2. intr. To become downcast (with … Read more

I Said Jerry Rig

All I did was ask him if he wanted me to jerry rig his shower curtain, but he looked at me like I’d asked him something really inappropriate. It’s not the first time I’ve gotten confused or blank looks when I’ve used the term “jerry rig”, which is a shame, because I’m a very good … Read more

“Because Of” and “Due To”

The saying “too many cooks spoil the broth” is spot on in the case of English language. Today, even native speakers make blunders in written and spoken English, being influenced by current trends. One such trend we are talking about is the misuse of “due to” and “because of.” Many are of the opinion that … Read more

Writing Prompts 101

Even if you are not a professional writer you probably already heard about writing prompts. They represent a very effective tool for any writing project, so it’s a good idea to know how to use them. What Is A Writing Prompt? If you’re a fiction writer, you may want to consider using writing prompts to … Read more

Spelling Isn’t Magic

Perhaps no aspect of written language engenders more consternation or trepidation than spelling. There’s even supposedly a clinical term for the fear of misspelling words: ortographobia. (Wait — isn’t that spelled wrong?) Unless you were a spelling-bee champion — and perhaps in spite of that distinction — you might at least occasionally become flustered at … Read more

Compound Modifiers: The Rush to Hyphenate

The object of the hyphen in the compound modifier should normally be clarification. Adjectives in a compound modifier sometimes precede two nouns. In the phrase small-jet engine, the hyphen tells us the engine isn’t small for a jet, but the jet itself is probably one of those bijou executive models. Adjectives can also describe other … Read more

Writing Dialogue In Accents and Dialect

“W’en old man Rabbit say ‘scoot,’ dey scooted, en w’en ole Miss Rabbit say ‘scat,’ dey scatted. Dey did dat. En dey kep’ der cloze clean, and day ain’t had no smut on der nose nudder.” Uncle Remus – A Story About Little Rabbits, Joel Chandler Harris. We have a long literary tradition of writing dialogue … Read more