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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Taking A Break

    Sometimes we tend to overcrowd our minds with the characters and plot of our stories. We're usually at it on a daily basis, sitting at the computer, brainstorming, editing, researching facts, or sometimes scrapping the whole thing. Not to mention, keeping up with the market...what's hot, what's not, etc.

     Back-in-the-day, when I worked in an office, we had two 'coffee breaks' each day.  A coffee cart came to our floor (before offices had coffee machines) and we waited in line for our turn for coffee, tea, and/or a donut, danish, or other sweet to go with it. (No fruit options then.) The cart came around at
approximately 10a.m., and again at 3p.m. Back then, I think it was to keep us awake in the morning, and to revive us in the late afternoon. Whatever the reason, we needed the breaks. And as writers, we do too, whether it is to stay awake, revive, or to clear our head for a time. Also, a break is a good time to stretch, get up, and walk around.
    More importantly, we need a 'get-away' break.  Meaning, getting away from what we're working on for a few hours, maybe even a whole evening. My personal break? Each night when I  turn off the computer, I trot up to bed, get comfy, and read a good novel. Sometimes it's the same genre I write, other times, it's a totally different one. The idea is, to get away from my own 'stuff..'  
     How do you get away from your 'stuff?'

Monday, February 3, 2014

Oops! Spotting Those Errors-

     No matter how well we spell, there is always an error that can slip in unawares. Most writers misspell words due to time constraints and rushing, or an unnoticed typo error.
     Years back when considering some extra income through proofreading, a friend asked, "with all the spell checking programs, why are proofreaders still needed?"  
     For one thing, most spell checking programs will not point out a correctly spelled word used in error of another word, if grammatically correct. For example, I might do a typo and type: foe, instead of, for. Let's say that I wanted to write: "What for?" But end up with,"What foe?" While there is no misspelling, it is not what I'd intended to write and would therefore be incorrect.
"I am going to the store."
"What foe?"  
     The overuse of the same word is also overlooked with spelling and grammar check programs. For example: I might use the word, slipped, several times in just a few sentences. "Mary nearly slipped on the slick sidewalk. It was late when she got home and she quietly slipped in the door up to her room. She was grateful to be warm and cozy as she slipped under the soft blanket."
     Capitalizing a word incorrectly is also overlooked. For example, "The Bishop went looking for his hat."  No need to capitalize 'bishop' unless it is used as part of the person's name. Example: "Bishop Riley, will you be going too?"  A proofreader could catch that error whereas the spell check program won't.
Transposition of letters in a word is another common error. So, instead of writing the word, tried, I might mistakenly write: tired. In this case, both are spelled correctly and my spell check tool will not point it out as an error. But if I  meant to say, "Alex tried so many times." And in error write, "Alex tired so many times." Very different meaning. The spell check tool will only pick out transposition errors that misspell a word, such as, shcool, instead of, school.
     There are also errors in the transposition of words. "It was a beach day" might be accidentally written as, "It was a day beach."  Or, "I love vanilla ice cream," might come out as, "I love ice vanilla cream."
And not to forget the number of words that have two acceptable spellings. I always like it when I think I misspelled a word only to learn there are two correct spellings. For example, the word, blonde, can also be spelled, blond. Blonde with the 'e' is often used to describe the color of a woman's hair, while blond without the 'e' is used mainly for males. It has been said that some consider the word "blonde" to be a sexist term and have dropped the 'e' in all usages. Donut/doughnut is another example. Donut is an informal variant of doughnut. There are many others. To see more, go to the following Wikipedia web site:
     Finally, there are always those tricky word spellings that warrant a dictionary check. Better safe than sorry.
    I still remember the little ditty that we learned in English class in grade school:  "Put 'i' before 'e' except after 'c' and when sounded as 'a' as in neighbor and weigh."
     And, since this is a post on spelling errors, I better check it over several times. How did I do?