Write Right Monday Night: Add These to Your Toolbox

writers-toolboxLast fall I started what I thought would be a weekly feature on my blog called “Write Right Monday Night.” I hoped to provide useful information on grammar, word usage, and other writing topics. Honestly, though, it just gave me a platform to air my grammar grievances. I figured I had a bottomless well of language pet peeves to draw from.

Due to a handful of life changing events, plus my reluctance to follow my self-imposed weekly schedule, the idea fell by the wayside. The last few entries were lame attempts to put something (anything) out there that was related to writing.

Fast-forward six months and I have some interesting things to share, so I am resurrecting Write Right Monday Night. It will not be every Monday night, but only when I have something that I think will be useful for my blogger friends or anyone with a love for the English language.

Last week I took a one day course in SEO and Social Journalism for Small Businesses at the local Community College. Along with a lot of other useful information and strategies, the instructor offered a list of online resources, including several that will analyze your writing and help you improve it.

This may not be news to some of you, but I had never used these sites before. I found them fun to play around with, as well as informative. I don’t always make the changes they suggest. My writing isn’t perfect, but sometimes I like it just the way it is. And while I’m sure these sites can improve someone’s writing, just like autocorrect, they are not perfect. I copied my blogpost In Sickness and in Health; In Polish Sausage and in Sauerkraut into one of them and it told me that the words kraut, jitterbug, and DJs were misspelled. My point is, they are simply tools, not something that should be followed blindly.

Here are three that I enjoyed using:

editMinion

This is a very bare-bones looking sight. Copy or type your text in and hit edit. It will list some statistics about the writing and highlight “weak” words, passive voice and other items to watch for. One thing I found annoying is it highlights homonyms with a caution to make sure you’ve spelled them right. This means that every instance of there, they’re, their, and your, you’re, and see, sea, among other words are highlighted. I understand why, but come on!

After the Deadline

They want you to download the app, but you can see a demonstration using your text. It highlights spelling errors and offers grammar and style suggestions. Clicking on each item that is highlighted provides an explanation of the perceived problem, as well as suggested changes. I say “perceived” problem because in my case, it identified the phrase “happy couple” as a cliché. In my post the phrase was entirely appropriate, but I guess it was helpful that it was pointed out to me. I’m not sure I could write anything without at least one cliché, so I’ll choose to ignore it!

Hemingway Editor

I really like this one. Not only does it do the same job as editMinion, it also gives an overall readability rating and highlights sentences that it considers are difficult to read. It points out and offers suggestions for words and phrases with simpler alternatives. Simpler isn’t always better, but it is helpful to be given real options.

While these writing sites may offer help when you need it, remember they are just tools in your writer’s toolbox. Your unique voice is what makes your writing yours. If there is a creative reason for you to break the rules, rummage around in that toolbox for a sledgehammer – and go ahead and break them!

Write Right Monday Night: Every Day I Write the Book

My “muse” has apparently taken the day off and I am fresh out of ideas for my Monday night feature this week. So, I’m taking the lazy way out. For your listening pleasure, here is one of my favorite artists, Elvis Costello, with a song that at least is on the topic of writing.

I promise to try to come up with something brilliant and entertaining next week. In the meantime, feel free to dance and sing along!

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Elvis Costello: Every Day I Write the Book (c) 1983

Write Right Monday Night: Where do you find inspiration?

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The places where writers find inspiration are infinite. For this week’s Write Right Monday Night, I’d like to share one of my favorites. It’s called The Writer’s Circle and can be found here.

Their mission is “To help connect, encourage, and highlight writers around the world.” I find the site both informative and entertaining – not just as a writer, but as an avid reader too. Continue reading

true luv weights

Welcome to this week’s Write Right Monday Night.

Finally! Proof that bad grammar is more than just a pet peeve of mine. Now there’s proof that it may have an impact on your love life as well. Read Wally Metts’ take on the study at his blog The Daysman.

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30676819_mApparently there is a new reason to pay attention in class.

The Wall Street Journal reports that people are evaluating potential dates on the basis of the grammar and spelling in their online profiles or messages. One guy, for example, had second thoughts when his new date sent a text that she was “almost their.”

In a politically correct world where we are no longer allowed to be condescending about race, gender, class or practically anything else,  it’s nice to know you can still be stuck up about something. Semicolons, for example.

One study reported in the Journal found that 88% of women and 75% of men found grammar to be the second most important things to them, behind only personal hygiene and slightly ahead of good teeth. No word on whether or not integrity made the list. One reason for this grander grammar trend, however, may be related: people who take more…

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Catch My Phrase

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When celebrity power couple Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin announced their split was a “Conscious Uncoupling,” the reaction almost everywhere was “a…what now?” Katherine Woodward Thomas, M.A., MFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist coined the phrase in her book of the same name.

I pondered (as I suspect many other writers did) how this term became a well-known saying. And more importantly, how can we get in on this racket? Continue reading

(Spell)Check Out My Friend Merriam

Hey there fellow word nerds! Welcome to Write Right Monday Night.

What is it about some words that make them look wrong when we type or write them? It could be a word we use often, but there’s something about it that just doesn’t seem right.

Whether I’m typing on my computer or sending a text on my phone, spellcheck is now around to help me out. Continue reading

Abbreviation Abominations

I’ve just arrived back home after a week away for my stepdaughter’s wedding (which was perfect, by the way!)

I have been far too busy and mentally preoccupied to work on any posts lately, so for my Write Right Monday Night feature, I will simply leave you with one of my favorite memes…

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C U next week! Ha!