Saturday, September 11, 2010

How Seriously Can You Take a Writer...

…when he/she makes mistakes like these?

Here are a couple of excerpts from comments left by aspiring writers on the blogs of two different literary agents:

      …hoping with baited breath…

      …sales certainly don't bare out that fact…

According to my handy dandy Webster's New World College Dictionary (4th Edition), the proper terms are:

      "with bated breath" – with the breath held in because of fear, excitement, etc.

      "bear out" – to show to be true; support or confirm

Go ahead – argue that blog comments, like texts, Tweets and Facebook posts, are informal and people like me should just loosen that twist in their knickers and get a life.

It will be a very short and one-sided argument, because I won't participate.  If I had that mindset, I wouldn't be writing this blog...

Writers should always make the attempt to write correctly, no matter what medium they're using. A writer's art is the written word, so why not use every available opportunity to hone those precious word skills? If nothing else, good writing should be a matter of personal pride.

Now, I don't know the writers behind these two examples of word choices gone bad. They could well be skilled grammarians who know the correct words and had a momentary brain cramp. Or perhaps they think they know the correct spellings of these idioms, but they really don't. The end result is the same: Readers get an unintended giggle out of the writer's error, and the writers – anonymous though they may be – lose credibility.

And when a writer loses credibility, so does the message that he or she is trying to convey.

Write true, write well – and always keep a dictionary close at hand.

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