Thursday, June 26, 2014

Punctation marks you never knew existed

Okay authors, raise your hand if you’ve ever wished for punctuation marks that don’t exist. Now raise those hands for all the times you’ve written ?! (or !?) and the editor has put a red line through it or a comment bubble telling you to “Choose one. You can’t have both.”
Well there is a thing called an Interrobang which is both. It’s just that modern keyboards don’t include it. However I suspect most editors won’t accept it. But you could always give it a go.

How often have you written a text message or a Facebook comment and wished there was a sarcasm font? Well there is. There’s a punctuation mark called the Snark which has been around since the sixteenth century. I reckon it’s time to dust it off and start using it again.

For a whole bunch of weird punctuation marks you never knew existed go to:

Have fun

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Overusing superlatives

The whole point of a superlative is that it indicates this is as extreme as the situation can be. Take that old trio, good, better, best.
Green is good. Frogs are better. But green frogs are the best. You cannot have bester, or more better. Best is as good as it gets. And for wordsmiths among you, the literal translation of the archaic word “bettermost” is “best”.

Littering your writing with superlatives just erodes and devalues their effect. “Everything is Awesome” might be a catchy title for a kids’ movie, but even in fiction if everything is awesome, awesome starts to translate as pretty average.

Now think of words like amazing, staggering, flabbergasting, iconic, unique. Would your hero really be staggered (lose his balance, fall over with shock) if your heroine enjoyed eating chocolate? Probably not. It wouldn’t be any of the other superlatives you could think of either, although your hero might be happy he’d thought to give it to her.

Tone down the superlatives. Save them for occasions that truly are outstanding. SHOW the readers how happy/surprised/or whatever the characters are instead of eroding the language into a place where everyday ordinariness is coated with wanton hyperbole.

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bob Mayer on writing for a living

Bob Mayer has written an absolutely brilliant article about making a living by writing. It ought to be compulsory reading for every writer, aspiring writing and reader.
Go. Read it. Now!

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Pronunciation Part 2: For Advanced Pronouncers

Here's a challenge for you:

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.
Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation (think of Psyche!)
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!
РThe Chaos by Gerard Nolst Trenit̩

And for those who love place names, how many of these can you get?

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Pronouncing words

If you can’t pronounce it correctly, you probably won’t spell it correctly either.

Remember Sarah Palin’s “refudiate”? But there are a lot of words people commonly mispronounce, and if they’re spoken incorrectly, most likely they’ll be spelled wrongly as well.
How many people do you know who say “aks” instead of ask, eckspresso instead of espresso, and eckcetra instead of etcetera?

Here are some other commonly mispronounced words:
Affidavid instead of affidavit
Cannidate instead of candidate
Irregardless instead of regardless.
Libel when you mean liable.
Miniture instead of miniature
Perogative instead of prerogative
Revelant instead of relevant
Triathalon instead of triathlon (many people add an extra “a”)
Upmost instead of utmost
Pronunciation is often mispronounced as “pronounciation”.
Hyperbowl” rather than Hyperbole
And for Melbournians Essadon instead of Essendon for the suburb and football team.

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Monday, June 2, 2014

11 Book Sequels You Probably Didn't Know Existed

Sometimes after you finish reading a book you just can’t wait to read the sequel, or the next one in the series. Finding out it’s a year away from publication, or even worse, that the author hasn’t written it yet, can be horrible.

Even worse, of course, is when Hollywood makes a sequel or a spinoff that is so bad you wish you could unsee it.

Mental Floss has compiled a list of eleven sequels to famous books, but these are sequels that either people have seldom heard of, or that pretty much no one read.

How many books about Tom Sawyer do you know about? Have you read the sequels to “Little Women”? Find out all these and more at:

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.