Writers Tricks of the Trade Volume 7, Issue 4 Winter 2018 - Page 17

Y OU D ON ’ T S AY ! M ORGAN S T . J AMES AND M IKE D ENNIS HOW DO ALL THOSE WRONG WORD FORMS SNEAK INTO YOUR MANUSCRIPT? Spell Check won't catch real words M IKE D ENNIS Back in 2009 my writer friend Mike Dennis and I had some fun tossing around all sorts of foibles in our quirky English language. So much depends upon the right form of words that we began to write a newsletter column called You Don’t Say. Mike moved to Florida but I continued to write the column for a while. We had also con- sidered writing a book called "You Don't Say," but it never went beyond a proposal. It is so frustrating for a writer is to think they’ve got it right, only to have some- one point out something like “That word should be stationery not stationary. See, one little letter and the whole meaning changes. Instead of the woman grabbing a piece of writing paper, now you’ve said the woman grabbed a piece of not moving. Not exactly a brilliant statement, but it is a real word so how was Spell Check to know? I’ve read books, articles, descriptions and more filled with these faux pas. For that reason, try to be very attentive when it comes to proofing your work. Sure, your first readers might catch some or most of those errors, and editors generally have a built-in “right word detection radar,” but their job is so much easier and you look professional if you are on the alert. Remember, no one is perfect. Marcy wanted to get their first, but Milton and Myrtle picked up there bags before she could. Well, what you've said is Marcy wanted to get belongs to them first, Milton and Myrtle picked up that place bags. It is astounding how many people make this mistake, and it even slips by editors sometimes. Just remember, when you’re using “there” to refer to a place, there is no room for “i”. The next one is not seen as frequently, but watch out for it. Alex and I went to a bizarre, and there were people wandering around in ba- zaar costumes. The literal translation of this sentence would be: We went to a weird and peo- ple wandered around in a marketplace of street vendors. Not quite spot on. Also not as easy to remember, but there are three “a’s” in the marketplace form. The next two spellings are often confused, and the meanings are so different. W RITERS ’ T RICKS OF THE T RADE P AGE 9 W INTER 2018