Sunday, August 23, 2009

Now a few writing tips, don't do

I promised to add some don't tips to the do tips in the previous post.

DON’T do the following:

1. Don’t use second person unless giving directions or in dialogue.

Example of incorrect use of second person: The crowd moved toward the doors of the auditorium. You could see the panic starting to build.

Example of corrected sentences: The crowd moved toward the doors of the auditorium. Anyone watching could see the panic starting to build.

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2. Don’t write a rough draft expecting someone else to edit or revise it for you. If the writing is yours, then you edit, revise, proofread, and rewrite before allowing someone else to edit or proofread.

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3. Don’t switch verb tenses unless the time frame of your writing has changed.

Example of switching tenses: The young man looked at the steaming food as his stomach growls.

Correct tenses: The young man looked at the steaming food as his stomach growled.

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4. Don’t use incorrect sentence structure or use short, choppy sentences (The only exception for using short, choppy sentences is when using briefly for effect such as quickening the pace in a fight or a rush).

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5. Don’t misspell or misuse words. Use a thesaurus to find the "right" word to "fit" what you write (make sure the synonym that means exactly what is needed). Avoid overusing words and phrases. Stay away from cliches.

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6. Don’t use pronouns incorrectly. Avoid using the nominative (subject) form of a pronoun when the objective form is required. Example of incorrect usage: Don't give the answers to him and I. Should be, Don't give the answers to him and me.

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7. Don’t use very many state-of-being verbs rather than vivid action verbs. State-of-being verbs can be used as helping verbs, but as helping verbs their purpose in a sentence is different.

Examples of helping verb: Mary was helping with the children. With her arm in a cast, Janene is fighting the urge to scratch.

Better: Mary helped with the children. With her arm in a cast, Janene fought the urge to scratch.

Example of being used as a state-of-being verb: Mary is with the children. (Correction: Mary cares for the children.)

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8. Don’t use passive voice often, only when necessary to achieve a desired effect, and then seldom.

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9. Don’t start a sentence with well (unless in conversation), there, this, or that (other than as an adjective before a subject or in conversation), or with a coordinating conjunction such as and, but, or, nor. Once a writer know the rules, he may occasionally break them for effect.

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10. Don’t use the word so as a conjunction (except in dialogue). Check to see if so that or therefore is what is needed instead. In more informal writing, the word so is sometimes used as a conjunction for effect. "So as to" should also be avoided.

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11. Don’t continue to make the same mistakes time after time. Improve each and every time you write. Learn from your previous mistakes. Everyone can improve his writing IF he learns from his mistakes and from the mistakes of others. Writing is a skill that can be learned with work, practice, and improvement.

Yes, all the don't tips reinforce the do tips.

I also did not ask the opinion of others, whether they consider themselves experts or not. I feel that fifty some years of study and research should be ample for now.

Also I did not give all tips possible to improve writing. As I stated before, that would take a book, maybe more.

Please use these as a starting point or reminders.



L. Diane Wolfe said...

I knew the don'ts were coming!

L. Diane Wolfe “Spunk On A Stick”

Katie Hines said...

Great list and I'm so glad you posted the examples. thanks!

Rena said...

Thanks, Vivian.

madcapmaggie said...

Vivian, thanks for posting this. Grammar was drummed into my head by my father. Every time he corrected us he'd repeat the whole rule and its application. At the time, I found it extremely annoying; now I'm very grateful.

Unfortunately, many of these errors can be found in the pages of my local paper. Horrors!

Margaret Fieland