The Pros of Simple Prose
Lately, I’ve been working with several authors who’ve come to me after receiving feedback about bad “grammar” in their books or reviews citing difficult, clunky prose. I’ll rant and rave about the public’s misunderstanding of grammar some other time, but here I want to make a case for why you should keep the language (not the themes or plot) in your book simple.
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How Bad Are Adverbs Really?
The advice that writers should never use adverbs gets thrown around a lot. Every couple of days I see a post about this so-called “rule” on /r/writing, and the responses are always the same: “But I like adverbs!” Adverbs aren’t inherently bad, but they can make for weak and uninteresting writing. In this post, I’m going to talk specifically about adverbs as they pertain to describing emotions.
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Using commas with and and but
About a month ago, I wrote a post about a common comma mistake: separating the subject and the verb with a comma. Here, I’m going to tackle how to use commas with the coordinating conjunctions and and but. Of course, we use commas with these coordinating conjunctions in lists, but I’m not here to discuss the serial comma today. I want to talk about using commas with and and but to separate independent clauses.
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How to use myself and other reflexive pronouns
Authors often misuse reflexive pronouns like myself, yourself, and itself. Usually, they use them interchangeably with I, me, you, it, etc. (maybe because they sound fancier). In this post, I’ll define reflexives and discuss how to use myself and other similar words in a grammatically correct way.
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Don’t separate the subject and verb with a comma
The comma is the most misused piece of punctuation. Commas are flexible to an extent, but there are several general rules that govern their usage. In this post, I tackle a very common comma mistake: separating the subject and the verb with a comma.
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How to fix a comma splice
The comma splice is a very common punctuation error. In this post, I’ll describe comma splices and outline how to identify, avoid, and repair them.
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What is the passive voice? Part 2 of 2
In the first part of my two-part series “What is the passive voice?” I talked about the differences between the active and passive voices and the ways to spot passive constructions. In this second part, I’ll theorize about why the passive voice is considered bad or weak writing, discuss some strategies for revising passive constructions, and describe situations in which the passive voice can be useful or preferable. Click here to check out the first part of the series, “What is the passive voice? Part 1.”
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What is the passive voice? Part 1 of 2
The passive voice is in some ways the boogeyman of writing because it is widely misunderstood. You’ve probably heard that the passive voice is grammatically wrong (it’s not) or that it is akin to weak writing (it usually isn’t). So what is the passive voice? I’m here to clear the air. I have a lot to say, so I’m breaking my discussion into two parts. In this first part, I’ll describe what the passive voice is and how to identify it.
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Difference between that and which
Writers regularly confuse that and which. Often, they use them interchangeably. In fact, that and which are different words with different functions. Knowing the difference between that and which can make your writing more clear and more specific.
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