Saturday, January 1, 2011

Writing Resolutions

I'm not much of a resolution maker (or keeper, for that matter). And I know that by now all of you have been bombarded by enough self-improvement ideas to write a dozen books on the subject.  So – do we really need more suggestions?

Based on the astounding volume of typos I discovered in 2010:  YES.

Here is my Random 10 List for ways to improve your writing in 2011:

1.  Quit putting apostrophes where they don't belong – learn the difference between possessive and plural.

Incorrect: 

The Butler's paid a 30 day bond.
Elbert County now contracts out it's dispatch work to Douglas County.

Correct: 

The Butlers paid a 30 day bond.
Elbert County now contracts out its dispatch work to Douglas County.

2.  And while you're at it, stop inserting hyphens where they don't belong!

Incorrect: 

She was 54-years-old.
(They) would have to either pay more money or give-up the dogs.

Correct: 

She was 54 years old.
(They) would have to either pay more money or give up the dogs.

3.  Two words:  spell check. 

4.  After using spell check, check again with your own eyes to avoid landing on the Homonym Horrors list.

Incorrect: 

I poured over our new budget the other night.

Correct: 

I pored over our new budget the other night.

5.  Proofread, proofread, proofread!  Every word should be correct and correctly spelled. Sentences and paragraphs should make sense. Punctuate correctly and appropriately.

6.  Keep a current dictionary on hand at all times – and use it.

7.  Keep a current style manual on hand at all times – and use it.

Incorrect:

Police said (he) was also carrying a 0.45 pistol hidden in his waistband.

Correct:

Police said (he) was also carrying a .45 pistol hidden in his waistband.

8.  Knock off gratuitous wordplay that doesn't serve the piece.

9.  Practice, practice, practice! Writing well is no different than playing a musical instrument well or playing a sport well – you must practice to improve your skills. Use every opportunity – business correspondence, personal e-mails, Facebook posts, blog comments – to practice good writing, spelling and punctuation.

10.  Never stop learning - new words, writing styles, general knowledge – anything that hones your writing skills.

And with that, good readers, I bid you a healthy, happy and prosperous 2011!

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