For the Love of the Oxford Comma

Okay, so I know this is a point of contention for many a writer and editor: you are either for or against the Oxford, or serial, comma. I make no bones about it: I am definitely an Oxford comma girl. Can’t help myself. It just makes sense to use it. And, to further make the point, I cut my teeth in an industry as an editor where the Oxford comma was king. Please see the Chicago Manual of Style if you need proof.

And to illustrate the difference, double click on the awesome infographic below, also available on OnlineSchools.com:

oxford-comma

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I Suppose I Should Address this…Supposably

I saw this pic posted on Facebook today, and my first thought was: Uh? That can’t be right. But, so many people were in agreement, and as you know, I am all about breaking the rules IF, and only if, they should be broken. There isn’t even a question about this one, however.

Supposably

To confirm that I was correct, and this little photo was not, I went to my girl, Grammar Girl. And she confirmed what I had said as being true: Supposably IS a word. It just happens to be used incorrectly. All. The. Time. You see,  the problem is that supposably simply does not mean the same thing as supposedly. Never has. Never will. But, it is indeed a word. Let’s take a closer look…

People who grasp for supposably are usually searching for supposedly, meaning “assumed to be true” and almost always includes a hint of sarcasm or disbelief (something I would never be guilty of, right?):

  • Supposedly, he canceled our date because his mom had an emergency.
  • She supposedly sent the check, but it was lost in the mail.

Supposably means “supposable,” “conceivable,” or “arguably.” It is only a valid word in American English as those Brits wisely refuse to accept it.

Supposably v. supposedly. And now it could be said that you supposably know which word to use when.

Thank you Grammar Girl!

Quote This

For all you creatives out there, words to live by:

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes…the ones who see things differently – they’re not fond of rules…You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the one thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things…they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

-Steve Jobs

Write What You Know

I’ve probably said this before, but I can’t say it enough: if you want to be a writer, not just a good writer, but a great one, write what you know. Writing, like anything else you do in life, has to be something you know, something you love, something that becomes so much a part of you that it’s second nature. And while writing can be difficult at times. Frustrating. Completely blocked and shut off, if you have fallen in love with the written word, with the process of writing, and the act of telling a story, then all of the bad just fades away in comparison to those moments of brilliance when they finally come. And trust me, they do come.

So if writing is your dream, and you are determined to make it happen, then don’t give up. Hold on to that dream with both hands. And write. Write every single day. Blog. Tweet. Journal old school style. Text if you have to. Just craft copy anyway and everywhere you go. And it will happen. The writer within will become the writer the world will see.

Happy writing!

“I” Before “E” Except After “C” …

I LOVE breaking writing rules if they make my writing better. But I also love find writing rules often considered tried-and-true, can-always-be-counted-on rules. So let’s start with the “i” before “e” except after “c” rule. It’s such a good one!

I know people who swear by this one, but the fact of the matter is it simply can’t be used across the board. Need proof?  Here’s a list of words where that rule simply does not apply:

  • Beige
  • Cleidoic
  • Codeine
  • Conscience
  • Deify
  • Deity
  • Deign
  • Dreidel
  • Eider
  • Eight
  • Either
  • Feign
  • Fein
  • Feisty
  • Foreign
  • Forfeit
  • Freight
  • Gleization
  • Gneiss
  • Greige
  • Greisen
  • Heifer
  • Heigh-ho
  • Height
  • Heinous
  • Heir
  • Heist
  • Leitmotiv
  • Neigh
  • Neighbor
  • Neither
  • Peignoir
  • Prescient
  • Rein
  • Science
  • Seiche
  • Seidel
  • Seine
  • Seismic
  • Seize
  • Sheik
  • Society
  • Sovereign
  • Surfeit
  • Teiid
  • Veil
  • Vein
  • Weight
  • Weir
  • Weird

Know some other “i” before “e” except after “c” rule breaking words? Drop me a comment and share!

Proof Your Work. Then Proof It…Again

I read the most HYSTERICAL weather forecast last night. Our local meteorologist blogged the following sentence: Tomorrow night the sun will shine and by morning temperatures will drop.

Hmmm. I don’t know about you, but unless you live in the Arctic Circle at a particular time of year, the sun simply does not shine at night. And trust me, I do not live in the Arctic Circle.

And here in lies the problem: writing should be left to the professionals, or if amateurs are doing their own writing, then they should employ the talents of a professional editor or, at the very least, a proofreader, to review their work and clean it up. I mean, come on, this is out there for their audience, their public, to read, and when they write like they are illiterate, how does that reflect on their credibility, or that of the station they work for?

I have to admit, the first time I read that line, it stopped me dead in my tracks. I had to re-read it. Twice. I couldn’t believe what I actually saw. On the Internet. For all the world to see. And then I laughed so hard I thought I would die. It’s so damn funny!

Which brings me to my point: if you refuse to use a professional writer, or your budget simply won’t allow for it, for the love of all things sacred, please, please, please, proof your work before you publish it to the Internet.

Your audience will thank you for it, and trust me, you will save face!

Want to Write? Get a Plan

Almost all successful writing begins with a response to an idea, experience, problem, or question. It’s hardly ever random. And your response needs some kind of process, even if it’s a rather loose one, which is what I prefer, otherwise I get so caught up in the process of writing I never actually get pen to paper.

So as a jumping off point, any writing response requires the following process in order to get from A to Z successfully:

  • defining a purpose
  • knowing your audience
  • planning
  • drafting
  • revising
  • editing
  • revising
  • revising some more
  • proofing

You can craft your process based off of this one. It may take some trial and error to see what actually works for you; you’ll find it. And once you do, your writing will flow so much more smoothly for you. What it will never do, however, is go from idea to finished product without a number of steps in between. But wouldn’t that be nice for a change?