The Pros and Cons of Freelance Writing Online

Freelance writing online is often touted as a dream job. It certainly has its benefits, but it has its downfalls as well. In fact, the drawbacks to freelance writing are often the flip side to the positives of the profession. The Pros 1. Your schedule allows for a fair bit of flexibility. Because you are … Read more

3 Things the Novelist Can Learn From the Copywriter

As a copywriter, I have access to two of the greatest writing improvement tools in existence: practice and feedback. I spend 40 hours a week pumping out words that will be tweaked, replaced, moved, cut, checked, rechecked, and rejected or selected. Every red mark on my ad copy teaches me how to improve my fiction. … Read more

Literally the Worst Mistake You Could Ever Make

If most people’s employment of the word “literally” doesn’t drive you mad, you’re probably guilty of a few misuses yourself. It’s one of the most common complaints of the grammar-savvy. Responding to our post on “Blackboard Moments” – those usages of speech that provoke the same response as fingernails on a blackboard – Abbie points … 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

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

“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

What Is Irony? (With Examples)

Recently I was walking and talking with my co-worker, who happens to be a freelance writer and aspiring journalist. We were talking about the fact that our employers were providing us with a Thanksgiving lunch the day after Thanksgiving, and she said, “It’s so ironic!’’ – all emphasis and drawing-out of syllables possible used on … Read more

Does Your Dictionary Rule?

I was going to write about the proper use of hopefully and presently, two adverbs that were bugaboos for a few of my college professors. But today’s visit to a dictionary has made me reconsider proper. For decades, I carried high the language flag, circled these words in my own students’ essays, and went to … Read more

All About Abbreviations

This is a guest post by Letia Graening. An abbreviation is defined as a shortened version of a word or phrase. But did you know that there are many different types of abbreviations? Here is a list of abbreviation types: Acronym – This forms a word using the initial parts or first letters of a … Read more

Whither The Semicolon? Whither The Comma?

This is a guest post by Eva R. Marienchild. I just sent a colleague back his “Away” e-mail—you know, the ones you post when you’ll be out of your office for a while. It had a comma where a semicolon should have been in the last sentence. To wit: “We will respond to your emails … Read more

Are You Cutting With Shears or a Chainsaw?

“I before E except after C…” “Eliminate passive voice…” “Start in the middle of the story…” There are hundreds of writing mantras we’ve all heard, and they always come back to haunt us as we pull out that ugly first draft and our trusty red pen to begin the editing process. So, like we’ve done … Read more

6 Tips for Focusing When Writing

Isn’t it ironic that I’m having a hard time focusing on this list of tips to help people focus? As I struggle to keep deadlines, I realize that my work environment is filled with distractions – whether it’s other people’s conversations filling my head or the flashing of my instant-messaging window telling me a co-worker … Read more