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Semicolon: The 2 Ways to Use a ;

Semicolon: The 2 Ways to Use a ;

If the semicolon was just a little less top-heavy, then it would be a comma, and rightfully used and appreciated. Sadly, many writers have a confused relationship with the semicolon, not really sure how or when to use semicolons in their lovely sentences.

Don’t worry, little semicolon. Your virtues will not be lost on this audience as long as I have a say in it.

A Writer’s Cheatsheet to Plot and Structure

A Writer’s Cheatsheet to Plot and Structure

Plot and structure are like gravity. You can work with them or you can fight against them, but either way they’re as real as a the keyboard at your fingertips.

Getting a solid grasp on the foundations of plot and structure, and learning to work in harmony with these principles, will take your stories to the next level.

How Are You? Good vs. Well

How Are You? Good vs. Well

When someone asks you, “How are you?” how should you respond? Should you say, “I’m good,” or, “I’m well?” Which is correct grammatically: good or well.

Since “how are you?” became a standard greeting, the use of good vs. well has been hotly disputed. Let’s straighten this confusion out.

Parentheses: How to Use ( ) Correctly

Parentheses: How to Use ( ) Correctly

People ask me all the time (and by all the time, I mean never), “Liz, what is your favorite grammatical/punctuational structure?” It’s hard to narrow it down to just one (although you’re probably already aware of my love for the Oxford comma), but if I happened to be in a life-or-death of language situation, it would probably be the parenthetical statement.

I bet you already figured that out.

How to Use Either, Neither, Or, and Nor Correctly

How to Use Either, Neither, Or, and Nor Correctly

My mother seems to appreciate having a grammar lover in the family. For Christmas one year, she bought me the book I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar. (By the way, it is equally correct to say “bad grammar.”) Last week, my mother emailed to ask if she was using the word “nor” correctly, which brings me to today’s post: the use of either, neither, and the connecting words that go with them.

How to Write a Hook by Shocking Your Reader With Surprise

How to Write a Hook by Shocking Your Reader With Surprise

Surprise! In real life, some folks love surprises and others hate them. But one thing is certain—in fiction, you need them. If you want your reader to be captivated by your story, unable to put it down, you need to learn how to write a hook that will draw him through. Grab your reader with something totally unexpected, and you harness his attention to the story you’re telling. At least for that moment.

When to Use Ensure vs. Insure

When to Use Ensure vs. Insure

Here’s a problem I’ve encountered a lot: the confusion of ensure vs. insure. But wait, those two words are the same, right? Well . . . kind of, but not exactly.

Let’s un-muddle them, shall we?

Every time I hear the word “ensure,” I think of the high-protein flavored beverage that I will never drink. But we’re going to use this ingestible product to help you remember how to use ensure. Win-win (kind of).

Do You Use Quotation Marks or Italics for Song and Album Titles?

Do You Use Quotation Marks or Italics for Song and Album Titles?

I love music. I’ve been teaching myself to play guitar, and I can stumble my way through four or five songs without wanting to poke holes in my eardrums, but my main appreciation for music is when other people play it. I’m an avid Spotify user, and I take a lot of pride in my ability to make kickass playlists. One of my girlfriends has even given me the green light to create her hypothetical wedding reception playlist.

So obviously, when I write about a song or album, I know when to use quotation marks and when to use italics. Let’s discuss.

Do You Italicize Book Titles? And Other Title Conundrums

Do You Italicize Book Titles? And Other Title Conundrums

Italics, quotation marks, underlines, plain old capital letters—when it comes to writing titles, the rules can feel like a confusing mess. Do you italicize book titles? What about movie titles? And for goodness’ sake, what should you do with pesky things like TV shows, short stories, or Youtube videos?

With so many different kinds of media, it’s easy to get lost in all the rules. Let’s demystify them, shall we?

What the Heck is an Em Dash?

What the Heck is an Em Dash?

And now, another punctuation term that you probably have never heard before: the em dash.

Truthfully, I was ignorant of the em dash until Joe first approached me about a punctuation post.

So I did what any educated American would do and went straight to Wikipedia. Here’s what I learned.

Setup vs. Set Up: The Truth About Phrasal Verbs

Setup vs. Set Up: The Truth About Phrasal Verbs

Words in English are tricky things. They merge and morph, even little changes adding layers of new meaning. Don’t believe me? Here’s an area I see lots of people getting tripped up: setup vs. set up. Is it one word or two? And does it even matter?

Actually, it’s both, and yes, it does matter. Let’s take a look at why, shall we?

How to Apply Helpful Writing Feedback (And How to Know What You Can Ignore)

How to Apply Helpful Writing Feedback (And How to Know What You Can Ignore)

When you’re a part of a writing community filled with great critique partners, you’ll be the happy recipient of lots of feedback on your writing. Sometimes it’s obvious how and when you should address the issues the feedback brings up.

But not all feedback is created equal, and often it can be overwhelming to know what feedback items you should address first or last, or whether you should address certain ones at all. Should you address every nitpick and complaint? Could your readers possibly be incorrect?

Christina Weaver on How to Revise a Story and Publish With Confidence

Christina Weaver on How to Revise a Story and Publish With Confidence

Having to revise your story doesn’t mean you’re an awful writer. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed in any way. Every successful author out there revises their work. They revise before they send it to their publisher and then they go through more revisions after their publisher sends it to an editor.

The bottom line is, as painful as it is, writers need to learn to love the revision process. Or at least tolerate it relatively well.

In today’s interview, we’re talking with Christina Weaver about how to revise a story. Christina may not be in love with revision, but she knows how vital it is to your story.

How to Use Possessives to Show Ownership

How to Use Possessives to Show Ownership

Possessives are a funny thing. When used correctly, they add much-needed clarity to our sentences. But they seem to confound our apostrophe rules.

Let’s sort out this grammar conundrum, shall we? With these rules mastered, you’ll clear up your readers’ confusion and use possessives like a pro.

5 Grammar Hacks for Writers Who Hate Grammar

5 Grammar Hacks for Writers Who Hate Grammar

I see this in comments on The Write Practice all the time. “I want to be a writer, but I know nothing about grammar.” I don’t have a degree in English or Journalism, either.

I am, though, a writer. For those of you who have decided you are a writer too, you don’t need a degree in English or be an expert in grammar. There are a few grammar hacks I’ve learned that have helped me.

How to Organize Writing Feedback so You Can Rewrite With Confidence

How to Organize Writing Feedback so You Can Rewrite With Confidence

If you’re a writer, you’ve probably received feedback. While some writing feedback is easily processed (like quick compliments), the best feedback takes time and energy to deal with. Receiving a flood of critiques can feel good at first. But after reading a deluge of opinions and observations and judgments, it can get really overwhelming.

Here’s how to organize the feedback you receive so you can approach the next draft with confidence!

Why You Need to be Using the Oxford Comma

Why You Need to be Using the Oxford Comma

Most of the fun of writing is using your words to tell a story. They course across the page, delighting in the joys of Maureen finally finding her Henry, shuddering as Ingrid uncovers her third dead body of the day, or mourning with Carlos for his lost mother. But I’m not here to talk about words. I’m here to sing the praises of punctuation; specifically, the Oxford comma.

Most people I’ve met have no idea what the Oxford comma is, but it’s probably something that you have used in the past. What is it?

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