October 2015

Word Smarts
(Ouch! Did I use that word the wrong way again?)

Is it imminent or eminent?

These sound-alike adjectives often cause problems for writers.

Imminent = impending
He is in imminent danger.

Eminent = distinguished
He is an eminent linguist.

Emanate also sounds similar, but it is a verb that means spreading out.
Her demeanor emanated warmth and kindness.

(Thanks to Deborah Myers of Health at Your Fingertips for this topic http://www.healthatyourfingertips.com)


Grammar To Go
Takeout tips for better writing

Enough already!!!

Remember the story of the boy who cried wolf? Likewise, overusing exclamation points is making a fuss when there isn’t one. If you plop down exclamation points willy-nilly, how can your reader know what is really worth getting excited about?

Even worse, the single exclamation mark has become diluted by overuse, so now we see multiple exclamation points, as if more were better. Stop!

Use words to incite enthusiasm. Don’t abuse punctuation. I admit that I too am guilty of frequently taking the lazy path and writing, “That’s great!” Instead of saying what I mean, I leave it to the reader to guess what “great” means. 

Consider this remark: “Your presentation was great!!” Obviously, it was really good because I used double exclamation marks. (snark) However, it would be more meaningful to the reader if I took a moment to explain just what I liked; for example, “You were so animated and lively” or “You spoke with great confidence and authority.”

Exclamation points have their place, but … please!!! ... don’t assume a “!” articulates meaning.


Writing Tips

Spring Forward, Fall Back
—seasonal tips

The autumn light in Sonoma County inspires the artist in us all. But when we write of the season’s grandeur, keep it small. We ALWAYS capitalize the days of the week and the months of the year. The seasons, though, are NEVER capitalized—well almost never.

When you write about the seasons—fall, winter, spring and summer—follow the normal rules of capitalization for headings, titles and names. That’s why you’ll see uppercased seasons in phrases like “Winter Olympics” and “Spring Break.” Otherwise, resist the urge to make it big.

And here’s a bonus tip. Many say that in the spring, we’re moving into daylight savings time, but not so. It’s officially, daylight saving time. There is no “s” on saving, regardless of what you hear and see in writing.

For two more days, we’ll be on PDT (Pacific Daylight Time). Sunday morning at 2:00am, we fall back to PST (Pacific Standard Time). Yippee! We get to sleep in.