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Archive for the ‘Grammar’ Category

This blog is about my writing process, so today I’m sharing an article on grammar, something that heavily influences my writing style. My love of grammar and the English language’s contradictions and eccentricities delight me, and if you’re with me, read on.

This article from Mental Floss gives examples of contranyms, words that are their own opposites. I was aware of the conflicting definitions of several of these words, but to my dismay, I was unaware that there was a word for this. As a fan of homonyms, homophones, and neologisms, perhaps I should have assumed. But any day that I learn a new word is a good day.

Mental Floss: 25 Words That Are Their Own Opposites

Enjoy!

 

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Holy lexicon, do I hate misspellings. And I’m harder on myself than anyone else, though I can be critical of those who should know better (biz professionals) and of those I see in printed books.

I type pretty quickly, though I haven’t been timed for years. If I’m particularly inspired, it’s probably around 100 wpm. But I’m hardly error-free. I can go faster than many since I’m not that particularly concerned about typos. Why? Because I’m a ruthless spellchecker. No, that doesn’t mean I frequently click the button in Word with the ABC and check mark (though I do that, too). I mean that every few paragraphs, I reread what I’ve typed and check for spelling and grammar (and flow, pace, content, etc). Then I type a few more paragraphs and reread the whole thing again. Even for WordPress items, I’m writing them in Word, rereading, proofing, and editing constantly as I go. I do this even after I’ve pasted (what looks like) the final copy into WP: I preview my text and give it another run through or two. Using this method, I catch 99% of the potential typos I make (that sounds like a totally unverifiable statistic and possibly hubris, for which I will likely be punished in the form of a typo in this missive). It works very well, nonetheless.

Until a recent query email I sent.

I researched and researched, using info from agents on their websites and Twitter. I found examples of what others had done. I wrote my query. Then proofed and rewrote and edited and rewrote. Finally somewhat satisfied, I pasted it from Word into an email, rechecked and edited again, typed the subject line, and sent it. I liked it well enough that I copied the text into another email for my next query, ensuring that I changed any info specific to the agent. I copied the subject line, too.

And that’s when the spell checker caught the typo. In. The. Subject. Line.

Dammit.

I had typed “An Illustratrated Children’s book”. Look at it. Look at it! How in the blue blazes did I miss that? Did I also forget to hit the spellcheck button one last time? But even now, knowing full well it’s spelled wrong, weirdly, deceptively, it still doesn’t look that wrong. I have seen far more egregious errors. Perhaps that’s what bothers me the most.

Fortunately, mercifully, in her rejection response, the agent did not mention that the SECOND word she had seen from me had been misspelled nor did she gently remind me of the importance of proofing your submission before sending it. It was the first time I’d hoped for a form letter response!

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PS: How many total typos did I find here before sending? Three, despite having typed this at 3:30am on my BlackBerry in the baby’s rocking chair.

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I’ve always loved spelling, partially because it came naturally to me. Additionally, I didn’t like how misspelled words made my writing appear–even in elementary school this bothered me.  Twenty-some years later, I still see gut-wrenching typos every day, even with the invention of spellcheck.

But I’m not talking about typos. I know typos have been a part of our lives since the first keystrokes of the typewriter, and things are more complicated with the arrival of many other devices that use a keyboard: in our house we have computers, phones, Xbox, and Wii. Seems like everyone has to do a bit of typing every day. No, typos can generally be caught if someone takes the time to proofread (saying this will ensure I have a typo somewhere in this post). What bugs me nowadays are words that are misspelled because someone didn’t take the time to look up the correct spelling of a word they had not typed before.

Here are some of my faves from this week:

Whore-mungering – I’m not sure what it means to mung a whore. But let’s keep this blog PG-rated.

Roam – Took me a couple rereads to discover this was supposed to be “realm”.

Trantula – Could be a simple typo, but it was spelled this way more than once. Perhaps this is a cross-dressing arachnid.

Writting – Came from a writer. Oy.

Midevil – I shouldn’t count this one because tons of people misspell it. It makes me laugh thinking about something mid-way between “a little evil” and “really evil”.

Madding – Another softball. Made me wonder if it was a Thomas Hardy reference. Probably not.

Now I must furiously review my own writing to ensure I do not end up on a similar list from someone else!

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