Which of These Is a “Comma”?
You might be surprised to learn that the answer is c. In addition to being one of our more familiar punctuation marks, “comma” is the common name for a species of butterfly (Polygonia c-album) found in Europe, North Africa, and Asia. The comma is a staple in the world of punctuation. It can be overused
Even ChatGPT Agrees—AI Doesn’t Replace Human Editors
ChatGPT launched just last November, and already it seems like everyone has started worrying about how artificial intelligence programs like this one are going to affect our world—and maybe even take our jobs. I decided to take this question right to the source. Could ChatGPT replace human editors? Here is ChatGPT’s reply: While CHATGPT is an
How I Beat Writer’s Block
The deadline looms, the clock is ticking … and the screen is still blank. That feeling of desperation can feel impossible to overcome. Writers will share all kinds of methods for “beating the block.” Here’s what works for me: Go for a walk. It’s quick, easy and free, and it can jumpstart creativity in surprising
Writing Tips: Show, Don’t Tell
Instead of telling the reader what happened . . . “Julianna felt hot and tired after her walk.” Use actions, thoughts, sensory descriptions, and emotions to describe a scene or to show how a character is feeling . . . “Julianna burst into the kitchen, her face flushed and sweaty. She threw her jacket on
Which Word Is Correct, Stationery Or Stationary?
Which Word Is Correct? Steven rides his ________ bicycle for an hour each morning. a. stationery b. stationary a. Stationery is a noun that refers to materials used for writing, such as paper, pens, and envelopes. b. Stationary is an adjective that means something “does not move” or “does not change.” These words are often
Quick Tip for Better Writing: Drop “There Is”
There is one simple change that can make your writing more dynamic. Wait, let’s try that again: One simple change can make your writing more dynamic. See the difference? Starting a sentence with “there is” or “there are” slows the pace of your writing. What’s more, this sentence structure buries the most important part of
Do you know the Jenga technique?
Which of the following sentences is easiest to read? 1. Start by writing all the information. The Jenga technique is an ingenious writing method that helps you make your longer sentences a little shorter so that they are casier for people to read. 2. Then take out anything that’s not needed to get the point
Fazed by “Phased”
Do you know what it’s called when two words sound alike, but have different spellings and meanings? One example is a particular pet peeve of mine. I often see this on social media: “She wasn’t phased at all by seeing the dog up in the tree.” Oops. (Also, argh!) That word should have been fazed.
Effect v. Affect
“The new law will affect schools throughout the county.” Wait. Should that have been “effect”? As a professional editor, I’ve learned to pause and scrutinize “affect” and “effect” every time I see them. The two words are easy to confuse: Not only do they look and sound similar, but each can be both nouns and
Intoxicated by Verbosity
“Don’t use a big word when a minuscule alternative will suffice.” It’s an old joke, but one that makes an important point: Big words are like fine jewels—you may take them out for special occasions, but they’re not for everyday use. No matter what you’re writing, you want your words to be read and understood.