Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Why I Love Grammarly

Grammarly is one of the best editing software programs that I've ever used, and if you haven't tried it, you owe it to yourself to do a 30-day free trial. No, I don't work for the company, and this is not a paid announcement. I have no affiliation whatsoever with Grammarly except that I have been a loyal and robust user for the last four years.

I have always loved writing and wrote for various publications over the years including newspapers and magazines, but it wasn't until 2004 that I published my first book. In 2005, I opened an editing company, but as hard as I worked, I found it almost impossible to stylize punctuation perfectly. What do I mean by stylizing punctuation? I edit large manuscripts ranging from 50,000 to 125,000 words. If my author chooses to use serial commas (otherwise known as the Oxford comma), I want to ensure that the manuscript uses serial commas throughout the book. But I'm not a machine. I can't be 100% accurate 100% of the time.
Grammarly to the rescue. Grammarly not only indicates every instance where a comma is required, but it also provides a simple click through solution so that I can add a comma that may have been missing. And if that's not impressive enough, the software recommends putting commas after introductory clauses and between coordinating conjunctions that separate independent clauses. Grammarly tells me when my author has used an unclear antecedent, written a passive sentence, or been too wordy. And, of course, the program corrects errors in spelling and grammar.

No matter how many times I review a 100,000-word manuscript and I think that I've caught all the errors, if I run it through Grammarly, the program will find something I missed that helps my author look good. Using Grammarly is a part of my editing routine that I rarely skip. The only downside is that it is time-consuming to run this program on a large document. But the end results are usually worth it.


Friday, January 6, 2017

When to Capitalize the Word Mother

Although you may adore and worship your mother, it's not grammatically correct to capitalize the term when it is preceded by a pronoun. Whenever you see the words "my, your, his, her" before the word mother, don't cap. For example, "My mother and I love musicals."

When should you capitalize the term? When it's a proper noun. "My mom" needs to go in lowercase, but if I want to talk about what Mom wore to the theater, I am using the word as a noun. "Mom" (or "Mother") is a substitute for her name. It's a name that I give her (e.g., "I always spend Easter with Mom and we have a great time." But "I always spend Easter with my mother" does not warrant capitals.

The same is, of course, true for the term father or dad — my father, your father, his father, her father, but "I've missed Dad every day since he passed away twenty long years ago."