Rime thyme

A wicked witch long ago cast a bad spell on the English language. Now there are hardly any common words that don’t rhyme with other words that have a very different spelling. Some people get confused. George Hearst, father of journalist William Randolph Hearst, ran for governor of California in 1882 despite having almost no education. In defense against the jeers of political rivals, he said, My opponents say that I haven’t the book learning that they possess. They say I can’t spell. They say I spell bird, b-u-r-d. If b-u-r-d doesn’t spell bird, what in the hell does it … Continue reading

31 tips to improve your writing skills

How long have you been a writer? Since about first grade. As soon as you started to learn to read, you started to learn to write. First you wrote letters, then words, then sentences, then paragraphs. Do I need to remind you of term papers? Many people look forward to graduating as much to turn in their last paper as for anything else. And many people, I suppose, look for jobs where they don’t have to write much. They have no faith in their writing skills. You may have to write a lot more than you anticipated when you started … Continue reading

Writers write about reading, writing, research

Not everyone who reads is doing research. Not everyone who does research in the broadest sense (looking up useful information) writes about it. But everyone who publishes research must read first. Indeed, anyone writes anything must read first. A friend of mine wrote an autobiography, and compiled as much documentation as he could find in order to refresh his memory and insure accuracy. Novelists must not only read other literature voraciously, but if they want respect for their novels, must conduct research to make sure that they describe places, customs, etc. accurately. Whatever else they write about, writers often write … Continue reading

Why you should edit before publishing–especially online

I have no need to make the case for good writing here, but the act of writing doesn’t end with the first draft. Very few people write first drafts that are ready to be sent out into the world. Every bit of writing, from a job application to a book, benefits from coming back to it with fresh eyes. A few years ago I stumbled across an entry for my father in Contemporary Authors. He was a giant in the field of industrial and organizational psychology, and all of his published works are in that very narrow specialty. But he made … Continue reading

Do diligence is a must: more misused pears

When I saw that comment in a forum thread I wondered, “How due you due do diligence?” It gives me an excuse to pass on some more fun with homonyms. I suspect hasty typing accounts for that neglect of due diligence. Many losing battles with homonyms seem to result from using the more common word when the less common is correct. A Christian devotional advised readers what to do in the throws of temptation. Throe, most often used in the plural, can mean a violent spasm of pain, or as a metaphor, a condition of agonizing effort or struggle. Against … Continue reading