Do you agree or disagree with these? Comment here!
Do you agree or disagree with these? Comment here!
Note from Barbara: I just received this email from adventure author Heidi Siefkas whose wonderful books I edited. I’m excited to share her publicity and news about her upcoming live writing retreat in South Florida. Details about her books and retreat are linked on the CBS-Miami website.
Take three minutes to listen to Heidi’s fun TV interview about how she reinvented her life, wrote about it, and turned it into a new career.
Aloha from Fort Lauderdale!
It has been a busy fall with the second book launch. I’m making a splash with my post-traumatic growth story, Life 2.0, and adventure is my meditation. Check out this feature that recently aired on CBS Channel 4 Miami.
Thank you for being a part of this journey. On Saturday, I will be co-hosting a writing retreat and sharing my path, highlighting your editing business as well as my publisher’s, Wheatmark.
Here’s to looking up!
Heidi Siefkas is author of When All Balls Drop and With New Eyes.
by Todd Hunt from Hunt’s Headlines
Two little words. Or one longer word, depending on the meaning.
As two words, they answer the question, “When?”
“Everyday” as one word answers the question, “What kind?” Everyday low prices–that’s what kind.
Thanks, Todd, for making this Word Tripper so visual.
Reprinted with permission from “Hunt’s Headlines,” the world’s shortest email newsletter, by business humorist Todd Hunt. Sign up at www.ToddHuntSpeaker.com
by George Mason
It seems to be a truism that many families can boast of at least one member who speaks in an innovative and entertaining fashion by committing what are known in the literary world as malaprops. In our family, this kind of quirky communication is fondly referred to as a”Pollyism.”
That’s because my older sister Polly’s way of speaking frequently evokes an intriguingly different image from the one intended. For example, once referring to someone in the throes of a difficult childbirth, Polly offered that the mother-to-be “was probably under seduction.” A wok meal at a friend’s house inspired her later to vow, “I’m going right out and buy one of those yaks for our dinner!” I missed the detective movie she saw in which a somewhat over-achieving maid “put arson in his coffee and killed him.” When Polly’s husband suffered a slipped disc in his back, our sympathies were momentarily diverted as she solemnly informed us that “he may have to go into contractions.”
The first principle of Pollyisms is that the more dislocated her expression, the clearer may be its meaning, once you think about it. Take, for example, the earliest recorded Pollyism, a hollered request to Mom on her way to the five-and-dime: “Will you please pick me up some vanilla folders?” Now, we all know what she meant, right? She knew exactly what she wanted–Manila folders are vanilla-colored, after all.
A second axiom is that Polly herself is always unaware of her misstatements (at least until one of us guffaws). A Pollyism’s special charm is the spontaneity and the lack of guile with which it is uttered. I’m sure she meant no disrespect, for instance, in commenting on a well-tailored society matron’s “pouffant hairdo.” It is not known if the lady with the “bouffant” style heard her, or was offended.
Polly has always been quick to give advice. Mom once mentioned the possibility of taking up certain meditative exercises to calm her nerves; Polly countered with “I don’t know how much good yoghurt would do.” Always a pet lover, but living in a small apartment, Polly showed admirable prudence in wanting a minor bird. Once when someone was discussing the hazards of fire in the home, she innocently inquired, “Don’t you have a fire hydrant in your kitchen?”
I have long envied Polly’s success in dealing with the public; part of her secret may lie in keeping others off guard. Through the dressing room partition at a clothing store, she complained to the clerk, “These pants are too short in the crouch.” Arranging travel plans, she asked at an airline ticket counter for information on their “helicopter shuffle service.”
George Mason is an eagle-eyed, nit-picky amateur proofreader who is still waiting for The New Yorker to discover his talents and offer him a copyediting job.
Editor’s note: Chances are, you (or someone you know) colors our language with funny malaprops, too. Please share your examples here.
Before detecting the “passive” voice and addressing how to change it to “active,” consider why you should care.
Active verbs will improve your writing (most of the time) because:
How to Identify “Passive”
As a reader, if you can’t identify the doer of the action—the subject—the sentence has likely been constructed in the passive voice. Even when the subject is clear, two clues help you identify “passive” use: 1) the word “by” and 2) variations of the verb “to be.”
Consider these sentences:
Passive—“The juicy watermelon was eaten by the boy.”
Active—“The boy chomped into the watermelon’s juicy belly.”
Passive—“Employees are seen by their managers as responsive and enthusiastic.”
Active—“Managers see their employees as responsive and enthusiastic.”
In addition, passive verbs can foster weasel-like communication. They might be used to hide who’s responsible for an action, thus evading accountability rather than declaring it. For example, if a contract states “the rules for the homeowners will be enforced” but doesn’t note who will enforce those rules, what’s the result? Ambiguity. Confusion. Inaction.
How to Identify “Active”
The pattern for an active sentence is typically “subject + verb + direct object.” The direct object is the recipient of the action—that is, what or whom the verb affects. Example: The employees (subject) implement (verb) the new strategy (object). Who’s doing the action of implementing the new strategy? The employees. Thus, it’s clear the employees are accountable for the action.
Notice the passive construction in the following sentence and rewrite it, making sure to use an active verb. (Hint: You’ll need to make up a subject.)
Passive: This policy is being implemented in an effort to streamline our process.
Use the clues I’ve provided to identify passive sentences you’ve written and revise them. Not sure if you rewrote one or more of them correctly? Share them with me via email, and I’ll provide feedback.
By Pam Lontos, CSP, MA
You are writing a book to sell online, on your website, at your speeches, or in bulk to corporations. What can you do to boost sales? People don’t believe ads or what you say about your own book. You’ll need testimonials from satisfied readers to place in every marketing piece you create.
One of the main reasons people don’t buy a book is fear of making a wrong decision. There are so many books in the marketplace and it’s sometimes hard to choose. So when they see that an author is endorsed by someone else, that fear is minimized.
How to Get Testimonials
How to Write Testimonials
How to Use Testimonials
The Ultimate Sales Tool
It’s always better when someone else sings the praises of your book, so let your clients and readers sell it for you. Testimonials are the ultimate sales tool, so remember to use them in all of your materials.
Pam Lontos, CSP, is the president of Pam Lontos Consulting. Pam consults with businesses, speakers, authors, and experts in the areas of marketing, publicity, and speaking. Pam is a past vice president of sales for Disney’s Shamrock Broadcasting where she raised sales 500% and she founded PR/PR Public Relations. She is the author of I See Your Name Everywhere: Leverage the Power of the Media to Grow Your Fame, Wealth and Success. She is also a former professional speaker. For a free 20-minute consultation, call (407) 522-8630 or email Pam@PamLontos.com www.PamLontos.com.
What a lifesaver for writers and editors alike!
Fellow NAIWE member Barbara McNichol has compiled in one easy-to-navigate manual the most crazy-making words from A-Z that, yes, trip us up. No more scrambling through stacks of reference books, as now the answers we seek are right at our fingertips.
Who among us hasn’t agonized over “affect” or “effect”? “Lay” or “lie”? “Who” or “whom”? Word Trippers comes to our rescue, but it doesn’t stop there. It also includes homophones that trip us up, like vial/vile and waver/waiver. Excellent!
My personal word tripper is “comprise” or “compose.” I have sought several sources and have never found an explanation to help keep them straight in my mind. Until now. Thank you, Word Trippers!
Editor’s note: Thanks, Diana. I’m honored you shared this on NAIWE, Amazaon, and Goodreads.
To purchase this book, go to http://tiny.cc/BarbaraMcNichol
by Barbara McNichol
If you don’t want your editor spending copious amounts of time changing weak verbs into emotional or visual ones, what can you do?
First, watch out for “is” words and their various cousins. Stay alert to phrases like “is happening” or “was being good”; change them to “happens” or “behaved.” Search out every weak “is” form in your manuscript and find a strong alternative.
Also, don’t overuse the words “start to” and “begin.” What can you do differently? “Start to rub your hands together” becomes “rub your hands together”; “allow your energy fields to begin merging” becomes “allow your energy fields to merge.” Are you guilty of overusing these two weak words?
In fact, I’d put the word “just” in the same “weak” category. I love what one of my subscribers wrote: “I don’t have a Begin or Start habit. I do, though, have a Just habit. I just can’t kick it. It just seems appropriate when you just do something . . . like I just read your newsletter. Without the just, I could have read it anytime.”
Add to that a few lazy linking phrases such as “there are” and “there will be.” Rewrite them! “There will be many representatives elected” becomes “voters will elect many representatives.” Better yet, instead of many, use a specific number.
Why do I call these phrases lazy? Because they often lead into long passive sentences that slow readers down. When your readers have to swim upstream to follow what you write, they tend to give up. Better to ease them along with crisp, sharp prose—based on active verbs!
Yes, I do keep beating this drum about active verbs because I know they will make your writing better. Test the waters. You’ll see how they improve the flow, enhance the clarity, and add muscle to the meaning.
And, of course, making this one important shift will reduce the time (and fee) for editing!
by Barbara McNichol
I appreciate the thought-provoking words of advice from blogging expert Jon Morrow in his blog post about Writing Tips.
Read it in full to get the sense of which of his six writer’s “hats” to wear when. Then send me your comments about this approach. Jon writes:
Did you use Jon’s six-hat approach? What did you experience?
Books for Treats is a nonprofit program that encourages giving new or gently read children’s books instead of candy at Halloween. Says its founder Rebecca Morgan, “With the burgeoning numbers of kids with diabetes and obesity, it’s time to shift Halloween treats to something that feeds their minds, not their cavities.”
Giving books instead of candy not only helps raise kids’ interest in reading; it increases the feeling that the community cares about their future. Reading encourages curiosity, imagination, and life-long learning.
The National Endowment for the Arts has reported that the average person aged 15 to 24 spends only seven minutes a day on “voluntary” reading. What if you could help kindle children’s excitement about it before they become teenagers? They will then be more likely to carry a reading habit into adulthood.
So this Halloween, feed their minds instead of their cavities. Go to http://www.booksfortreats.org and download a free kit of imaginative ways to offer books to your trick-or-treaters.
Please share how you might implement this idea in your neighborhood.