Thursday, October 24, 2013

Today's Writing Tip Is on Castles Made of Sand

The other day I was in the car listening to Jimi Hendrix and I nearly drove off the road when I heard him sing, "And so castles made of sand melts into the sea eventually." Okay, we have to give this rock God a major pass for making some of the best music in the world when he was out of his mind on too much acid and writing before the invention of the spellchecker. But can we gently, and with love, deconstruct that sentence and try to determine the origin of Jimi's mistake?

Hendrix probably thought that sand melts and he forgot that the beginning of his sentence, and the direct subject, was castles, not sand. Usually we can tell by the way things sound when our subject and verb are not in agreement, but if you tend to go into your own purple haze, where you might forget what’s supposed to match, keep in mind that several extraneous words or clauses may intervene between your primary subject and your verb. And go back to take the extra time to make sure that your subjects and verbs line up.

Of course, you could always try writing when you're high to increase your creativity, but proofreading when you're stone cold sober!

Sigrid Macdonald is an editor and the author of three books, including Be Your Own Editor, available on Amazon:


Monday, October 7, 2013

Today's Writing Tip Is on Efficiency

One way I have found to be efficient in business and my personal life is to take the thing that I want to do least and do it first. Every morning when I get up, I assess what I have to do for work and what I have to do to keep my fabulous recreational life going. And I decide which tasks are fun and easy and which ones are a total bore or difficult. I take the latter and knock them off right away. That means that by 10 a.m. or 11 o'clock, my day is filled with things I want to do because I've already completed the ones I didn't want to do.

This works for writing as well. There are always some things we enjoy more about writing than others. This varies from person to person. Let's say you're writing a novel and you adore writing the action scenes, but you hate fact checking. As soon as you tackle your work, devote a specific period of time to fact checking. It might be twenty minutes or however long you think you can tolerate. Then get back to writing your action scenes. You'll feel so much better knowing that the task you dreaded is already out of the way.

Sigrid Macdonald is an editor and the author of three books. Her last book, Be Your Own Editor, is available on Amazon:


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