Monday, February 28, 2011

Book promotion for authors

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Today's Writing Tip Is on the Difference between Contrary and Contradiction

When should you use the word contrary and when should you use contradiction?

Contrary means argumentative. “You say yes, I say no. You say stop and I say go, go, go, oh no. You say goodbye and I say hello, hello, hello.” Hard to imagine someone being contrary to the Beatles, but there you go. When people are contrary, they disagree.

When people are contradictory, they may say one thing but do another. Their actions or words are inconsistent or incongruous. John Lennon was a man of contradictions; he advocated peace in his music, but wreaked havoc in his personal life, particularly in his first marriage. Contradictory is the adjective and contradiction is a noun. A contradiction is something that we find difficult to understand, like when Rev. Jesse Jackson ministered to Bill Clinton after Clinton confessed to having an affair, yet later the public discovered that Jackson, a married man, was the father of a love child (I promised I would give equal time to teasing Democrats in today's writing tip).

Learn more about word usage in my third book, Be Your Own Editor. When should you use between or among, further and farther, or complement and compliment? Find out in BYOE, available on in print and on Kindle.

Sigrid Macdonald is a book coach, the author of three books, and a manuscript editor.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

This Is a Sort of Writing Tip

Lately I've been seeing the phrases "kind of" and "sort of" in print, and hearing them far too often on podcasts and radio. When is it appropriate to use these terms and when should we leave them at home?

If you have a task at work that is slightly difficult, you can say that it is kind of a pain. What you don't want to say is this: "I have a sort of project that needs to be finished by Friday." The first sentence has “kind of” modifying the word pain, which makes sense. The second sentence has the adjective modifying the word project, which doesn't make any sense, because we’re not going to have a "sort of” project. We either have a project or we don't!

Here's another one. “It's kind of important for me to show up at the party.” That sentence is fine. If I change it to this, it's grammatically incorrect: “It's important for me to kind of be at the party." You either show up or you don't. Kind of and sort of are filler words akin to “like…” (I was, like, so busy.) They seem to be the modern equivalent of saying “um” or “ah,” but you don't want to discard them altogether, because there are a number of instances where they are the best words of choice.

Sigrid Macdonald is a book coach, a manuscript editor, and the author of three books including Be Your Own Editor. BYOE is available on Amazon in soft cover ( and on Kindle ( Or get 20% off the regular price by writing directly to the author.

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