Sunday, July 9, 2023

Her and I Were Talking

 As I mentioned in my last post, I am hooked on two reality dating shows, and frequently, the participants confuse pronouns. “Her and I were talking” is not correct. What you want to say is, “She and I were talking.” Why? What’s the difference?

Her can indicate possession, e.g., “her attitude, her accent, her suitcase.” It can also be used as a direct object. “Jackson was talking to her.” We would never think to say, “Jackson was talking to she.” It’s rare to see that kind of error, but it’s common to see “Her and I were at the movies. Him and I are good friends.” No, no, no. “HE and I are good friends.”

The rule for this is that the words he or she are used when the person is the subject of the sentence, and him or her are used when they are the object. If you want an easy way to get around this, you can simply substitute the person’s name, and instead of saying, “Her and I were talking,” you can say, “Maria Angelica and I were talking” or “We were talking.” Never hurts to have a cheat card in your back pocket!




Thursday, April 13, 2023

David and I’s Honeymoon

 One of my guilty pleasures is watching reality TV. I am particularly hooked on two dating shows: 90 Day FiancĂ© and Married at First Sight. For some time, I have noticed that some of the participants on these shows have a ridiculously hard time finding the right pronouns. Hence, the title of this blog. Hint — you don’t want to say, “David and I’s Honeymoon.” Neither do you want to say, “David and Mine Honeymoon,” another variation I hear often.

What’s the right term? There are lots of different ways we could phrase that. Let’s start with “David and My Honeymoon” or “My Honeymoon and David’s.”

When we get into trouble with pronouns like this, sometimes the easiest thing to do is to revise the sentence and turn it into something that we know is right, e.g., “Our Honeymoon” or “My Honeymoon with David.” Can’t go wrong there.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Great Software Programs for Writers

 We all know about spell-check and the importance of using it when we are writing any documents, particularly correspondence and reports related to work. But there are new and more advanced types of programs that go way beyond the capacity of the spell-check. Check these out:

 Grammarly: this is a phenomenal program that not only far exceeds Microsoft in terms of its ability to detect errors in spelling and grammar, but it also flags repetitive words and potentially inappropriate word usage (e.g., let’s say that you wanted to use the word “reminisce” to talk about old times but instead you said, “let’s remiss about the good old days.” The program would alert you to the possibility that might not be the word you want to use and suggest something more appropriate. It also highlights terms that have become like slang now, such as “awesome, amazing,” and “totally” and even brings to your attention potentially offensive/politically incorrect words like “mankind” or “elderly.”  And it is fully compliant with The Chicago Manual of Style, so Grammarly will suggest the best punctuation for you. It’s a real time-saver and ensures that you will not miss embarrassing errors. Plus, you always have the option of taking their suggestions cafeteria-style by choosing the ones you like and leaving the rest behind.

 PerfectIt: I could not live without this program. PerfectIt makes sure that all your word usage is consistent. Did you hyphenate brand-new in two instances but not the third? Did you capitalize the City of Chicago four times but leave it in lowercase twice? PerfectIt to the rescue. This is particularly useful for long documents, novels, and nonfiction books where you can’t trust that you are going to remember every single hyphen or capital. It makes you look like a real pro with a terrific memory and a great eye for detail. PerfectIt also identifies redundancies (e.g., “I’m going to meet Paul at 10 AM in the morning.” AM and morning are redundant. You can say one or the other. “I am going to meet Paul at 10 AM” is sufficient. And “he thought to himself.” By definition, a thought is something that we think to ourselves and we don’t say out loud, so it’s fine to say, “he thought” without the extra verbiage).

Both Grammarly and PerfectIt are terrific for writers who want their material to be flawless and professional. But don’t forget about Microsoft’s spell-check. It is still worth remembering to always spell-check everything that leaves your desk for business, starting with emails and moving on to reports and proposals, short stories, and full-length books, etc. You can also use these programs for social correspondence if you want to step up your game.  

Monday, June 15, 2020

Do You Make These Content Writing Mistakes?

Do You Make These Content Writing Mistakes?

Whether you are a newbie or a professional writer, you tend to commit some unintentional mistakes in your writing.

Here are some of the content writing mistakes we usually encounter and how to avoid them.

Lack of research

Laziness in reading and checking related content about your topic may put you in a bad light. You might unknowingly include in your content erroneous facts. There might be information you may have remembered that was correct years ago but recently new facts have been presented by other researchers or scientists.

You need to be diligent in researching so you do not appear to be a reckless and irresponsible writer. Also, awareness of existing content with the same topic challenges your writing creativity and allows you to deliver fresh content. Search engine tools can go a long way for you.

Not knowing your audience

Writing without knowing who your target audience is will greatly defeat the purpose of bringing in more traffic to your page. You have to know your audience’s demographics and psychographics so you can be able to sympathize with them and reach out to them with your content writing.

This requires additional research on your part. But do not worry because there are tools online to make it easier for you to know your audience.

Overstretched content

Lengthy is not always interesting. Just to reach for certain words, you try to stretch your writing and put in too much information. Your audience tends to lose interest in reading until the end of your article if you have written long and repetitive content.

People’s attention spans can be compared to the speed of the internet connection. It has a connection speed limit. Their attention lags when your content takes longer to read than the estimated time the audience wants to spend on it.

Sometimes, brief writing is more catchy. But please take note that this depends on the important points you need to discuss for your topic.

Repetitive use of your SEO

Repeating your SEO keywords several times within your content will not help increase the traffic on your page. Consequently, search engines may penalize you for overusing your keywords by moving down your ranking. 

It is suffocating to read the same word or words over and over again. There is a certain limit of keywords used within content writing, depending on its word count. Look for a keyword density checker to help you count the number of times you used your keyword.  


Constantly mentioning a product gets people to feel stuffy with it. This creates a bad impression on your page, especially when your audience expects to learn something from your content but gets disappointed because you are just doing some selling.

If you have to write about a specific product, just be subtle about it. You need not mention it time and time again so the audience will not get overwhelmed regarding the product you are writing about. A mention of two or three times is enough to establish the product you are promoting in your content.
Misleading titles or headlines

It may be catchy but if it is not totally related to your content, your audience will lack confidence in your page and web site in the long run.

Did not proofread enough

Content writing with typos and punctuation errors, misspelling, and tenses and pronoun inconsistencies can be avoided by thoroughly proofreading.

Double-checking your content after finishing it will help you find misplaced words in your writing. Sometimes in the middle of writing, we try to think of words that we cannot exactly pinpoint and place a word that sounds similar or has almost the same meaning as the word you want to say.  

But as a writer nearing your deadline, you do not have enough time to rest and check your article with fresh eyes.  

There are online spelling and grammar checkers and editing tools that can help you to reach your deadline flawlessly.

Lack of image support

The image is key to making a click. Including an appropriate image attracts more traffic to your content page. People like it more when they can see some visuals before completely immersing themselves in your content. Aside from your meta description, seeing an image or picture creates first impressions, prompting the audience to click on your page. 

If you have your own image, use it before turning to other people’s images. This will keep you from encountering copyright issues. But if you need to use public domain images or pictures, check first the public domain’s terms and conditions details to avoid legal issues.

Unintended Plagiarism

Plagiarism is a crime of theft by stealing other people’s ideas or words and claiming them as your own.

If you do not like people stealing your ideas, avoid doing it to other writers. You must give proper acknowledgment to the authors or writers you quoted from your research. Even if you paraphrase the words from any writings or books, you still have to properly cite the source.

And sometimes you keep on writing based on your memory. This may expose you to committing plagiarism accidentally. To check for plagiarism, look for online plagiarism tools that can work for you best. 

Being overconfident with your writing

Especially if we have been writing professionally for years, sometimes we tend to be so confident with it. We still need to give leeway to double-check for possible mistakes. Sometimes, we tend to write too wordy articles. Keep in mind the advice of many senior writers: simple and concise writing is better.

Learning is constant for everyone. Keep looking to learn new things. You need to keep upgrading yourself as a writer just like online software does.  

Change is inevitable. You have to make some adjustments in your writing for the changing times and attitudes of your audience.

Monday, March 9, 2020

How to Find the Right Editor for Your Non-Fiction Book


Choosing an editor is difficult. How can you tell who will be right for you and your book by randomly choosing someone on the Internet? First, browse websites looking for a nonfiction editor or nonfiction editing services. Look for the following qualities: has this person ever worked for a publishing house? How many years of experience do they have? Do they have extensive experience in your genre?

Second, touch base with the editor by email and arrange a time to talk on the phone, on Skype, or FaceTime. Make a list of questions for the editor before you talk. Talking on the phone or a video call is not the same as meeting face-to-face, but it’s pretty close, and it’s much better than email.

I just finished reading a book called The Editor by Steven Rowley. It was a fun fantasy piece about a guy who had Jacqueline Onassis as his editor; this book delved into the nuts and bolts of what the client/editor relationship should be like. You want a nonfiction editor who cares about you and your book. It helps if the editor is an author. Fellow authors know what it’s like to go through the nerve-racking experience of handing a manuscript over to a stranger.

Also, ask the editor if he or she will do a sample edit of about 300 to 500 words. That will give you an idea if that particular nonfiction editor or nonfiction editing services company is right for you.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Creating an Authentic Villain


It’s easy to create a villain or an antihero that readers love to hate, but it’s hard to create a nuanced, complex antagonist. We are so used to Darth Vaders or Draco Malfoys that we, as writers, tend to forget that when we want to portray someone as evil, it’s important to make that character well-rounded, real, and authentic.

The best way to do this is to give your bad guy/girl some attributes. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but everybody, even the worst criminals imaginable, has redeeming qualities. I will never forget watching a movie years ago about Hitler’s secretary. It was a documentary, and there was real footage of a person interviewing the woman who had been a secretary to Herr Hitler. She was most apologetic; it was obvious that she wanted to say unkind things about the man, but she couldn’t. She needed to be true to her experience and wanted people to understand that the Fuhrer had been extremely kind to her. He was a nice man to work for. I know you’re rolling your eyeballs right now and saying that can’t be possible, but, yeah, it can be. I would go one step further and say that not only is it possible, but it is likely that the scum of the earth person who has committed vile, despicable acts also had some nice traits. We can be two things at the same time. We can be good mothers but cheat on our taxes. We can be great parents but cheat on our partners. We can be good citizens but racist in our private thoughts and practices. We can be like the infamous Aaron Fernandez from the NFL, who was convicted of three murders but loved his daughter.
Look for ways to humanize villains in your stories. Maybe your bad guy is a killer, a brutal, sexist, wife-beating, child-beating nightmare of a man. How would you round out that character? Give him good taste in music. Make him a fan of animals or a vegetarian. Maybe once a week, he volunteers to work with somebody with Down syndrome or visits his aging mother. Or make him a victim turned victimizer. Maybe your villain was molested as a child or neglected. Give us some ambivalent feelings about him or her. This is why the show The Sopranos worked so well—because we grew to know Tony Soprano as a person before we found out that he was a very bad guy. This gives the viewer or the reader ambivalent feelings toward your character. That’s good. You’re not turning your bad guy into a good guy. You’re just rounding out the picture so that we see a full person rather than a one-dimensional stereotype. Also, be careful about using clichĂ©s and overly common plot devices, such as dressing your bad guy in black or giving him lots of tattoos.

The same is true of your protagonist. As writers, we want to make our protagonists likable, but we can easily fall into the trap of making him or her too good to be true. Most of the girls I knew liked Jo best in the book Little Women, followed by Amy. Beth was almost ethereal; she was too sweet and selfless. But Jo? She defied all stereotypes. She was a tomboy. She said what she felt. She had a temper. Jo was on fire in an era when girls were supposed to be uber-feminine and subservient, and as a result of being feisty, she became a fan favorite.

The best way to rectify a one-dimensional character is when you are proofreading and reviewing your story after it’s already been written. Go back into the text several times and look for sections where it’s appropriate for you to add some good qualities to your bad character. It will pay off in the end.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Today's Writing Tip Is about Women Candidates

What's wrong with the term "women candidates"? We are using a noun instead of an adjective to modify the word candidates. What is the correct term? Female. Female candidates.

However, we don't want to talk about males and females at the dance. In this instance, we are using adjectives when we want nouns. What's the correct version? Men and women at the dance.
Be careful with this one because we can easily slip up. Or sometimes we can write something in a sexist way when we never intended to by saying something like "female judge" when the gender has no relevance to the narrative. It's almost as though we are thinking that most judges are male, so we want to clarify. Resist the urge!

It's like the old joke about an injured boy coming into the hospital with his father. He is greeted by a surgeon who says, "I can't operate. This boy is my son." Then everybody has to scratch their heads to figure out who the surgeon is. At least they used to years ago. Nowadays we have two answers — the boy could have two dads or the boy's mother could be the surgeon. When I was young, nobody ever figured out the latter. But those days are over, thankfully.

Happy writing.