Saturday, March 5, 2011

When I first started writing, I hadn’t yet found RWA and the resources offered as a member. I did find a site for women that offered tips on writing, a place to submit and get a critique. I enjoyed it immensely and learned quite a bit but one woman didn’t really want to learn, she just wanted to be stroked on her genius idea of writing a book that would follow Gone With the Wind.

She consistently used knell instead of kneel and wreath instead of writhe. When these were pointed out to her, she had no problem with the knell/kneel but insisted that wreath and writhe could be used interchangeably. Slowly her critiques dried up, only new people to the site bothered to respond to her posts.

I see posts come through the Yahoo groups and cringe when I see all the horrible spelling or wrong word usage. Would they be offended if their incorrect word choices were pointed out to them? I’m going to say yes. Why? Because I’ve seen other posters point these things out and get shut down quickly. The most common response--“my email doesn’t have spell check.” Uh, okay but spell check won’t catch the wrong word, only the misspelled word. I sure don’t want to start any wars on the loops but it does make me wonder how many of us make those same kinds of mistakes and can’t see them.

In one of my college classes, we had to do a paper but the professor insisted we turn off our spell checker and get a proofreader. The example she gave--a previous student wrote a fantastic paper but instead of salon the student used saloon and she wasn’t writing about the old west. The professor had to mark the student’s score down, even though the paper was excellent in every other aspect. In the professor’s opinion, spell check isn’t always your best friend. I think we all need to remember that when we’re writing.

How many times have you seen right used for write? And we’re writers--honestly this one calls for getting the writer’s hand slapped with the wooden ruler. I always want to ask the person so you’re a righter, huh? Okay, I’m being sarcastic or as one friend tells me, a little too blunt.

I’ve been corrected for using blonde when referring to a character. Blonde does happen to be correct when referring to a female. Blond for a male, mixed group, or unknown gender.

I once pointed out gray/grey in a contest entry. Guess what? The coordinator sent me a note, reminding me that we had entries from other countries. I replied that I knew that but this particular writer used both spellings in the entry. If the writer had used gray all the way through, no problem. If she’d used grey all the way through, no problem. However, to use both spellings in the same manuscript, I don’t think so. If I caught it, you can be darn sure a reviewer or reader was going to catch it.

Denise Pattison


morgan wyatt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
morgan wyatt said...


I will admit to being perplexed by the variety of ways I've seen blond and blonde used. Thanks for clearing the matter up.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Hi, Denise. Great you know, I'm GREAT with the writing as well as speaking. LOL. One friend has to keep from laughing sometimes when we're talking because I misspeak.

I used the gray/grey in one story, but that's because the hero's name was Grayson, Gray for short. Then, silly me, I gave the heroine gray eyes. I realized I needed to use the different spelling, grey, but I did keep it consistant...still just goes to show you need to think things out.

Now matter how much I proof read, I still miss those misspellings! My editor is wonderful with me and my typos! Otherwise, I still wouldn't be published.

Denise said...

You're welcome, Morgan. It's one of those weird words, huh?

Anna Kathryn, when I judge contest entries one of the things I always write is make it consistent. Whatever way you spell something or how many spaces after ending punctuation. Being consistent makes it look like you know what you're doing, even if you're not quite sure. LOL


Alexa said...

I LOVED this post! It bothers me so much when people rely only on spell-check. Spell-check is good, but nothing beats a second or third pair of eyes on the pages! Sadly, I've seen more published books than I'd like that had the wrong words used and it does take you out of the story.

Sheila Tenold said...

Good post, Denise. I'm guilty of misspeaking on occasion, the same as Anna Kathryn. I proofread my emails, too, since I often find bloopers there.

I refer to Kelly Mortimer's Grammar Guide For Self-Editing as one writing aid. Unfortunately, it seems like I lose one bad habit and embrace another in its place.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I also have been guilty of using the wrong form of a word, but luckily it never went to a judge that way - a friend caught it. I had them sleeping in a birth and getting into a wagon and getting out of a buggy. :)

I don't always check my emails before I push send and every now and then get quite embarrassed. Guess it is part of the game. My mother always wanted me to be perfect and a fall way short.

Gina Ardito/Katherine Brandon said...

I've actually been slapped (cyber-wise) for saying that any writer who doesn't know the basics of punctuation, spelling, and grammar does not deserve to be published. Sure, we all have weaknesses in some area, but "honing your craft" is about more than just regurgitating stories full of misspelled words and poorly placed commas. It's about strengthening your skills and overcoming those weaknesses.
Thanks for the excellent post!

Joanne said...

I've become very critical about spelling errors. I'm sure I'm guilty, also, but honestly--I've found errors in major novels by esteemed authors.