Here in the Land of Writing Advice, we try not to lay down too many edicts because edicts are prickly things, but we’re going to put out four quick bits of writing advice that make you look a little more cool.
Let’s get started.
Nodding in acknowledgement.
If you’re a writer and you write:
Carrie nodded in acknowledgement. “Yes,” she said. “I do want to someday ride a manatee.”
The reader/editor is going to think, “What the what?”
A lot of writers worry that the reader isn’t going to get it. They want to be helpful. But in that example up there, we have three ways the writer is telling us that Carrie is agreeing.
“Yes,” she said. “I do want …”
Trust your writing. Trust yourself, okay? And trust your reader.
HE THOUGHT TO HIMSELF
The same kind of thing is happening here.
Shaun thought to himself, “Self, I am a pretty sweet man.”
Unless your book is about telepathy or has telepathic characters (hopefully manatees), you’re always going to be thinking to yourself.
So just write:
Shaun thought, “I am a pretty sweet man.”
It’s versus its
Okay, whenever you have an apostrophe in the middle of a word it means one of two things:
There’s a letter missing and you’re smooshing two words together.
It’s showing possession.
It’s with the apostrophe means it is. It always means it is.
Its without the apostrophe means belonging to it.
The werewolf ripped its tank top during the change and cried.
That one? No apostrophe in its.
The werewolf said it’s going down to J Crew to get a new tank.
That one? Apostrophe.
We’re versus were
Continuing on the apostrophe train, we’re and were.
We’re has an apostrophe that’s showing you that it really means we are. The apostrophe is standing in for the a in are. Oh, that sounds weird.
The were (w-e-r-e) is second person past tense singular, past tense plural, and past subjunctive of the verb “be”
So we wouldn’t say:
Hey. The werewolves we’re changing in J.Crew because they were raging out over the lack of pink tanks with tassels.
Hey. The werewolves were changing in J.Crew because they were raging out over the lack of pink tanks with tassels.
Similarly, we’d say:
We’re werewolves, man, and we demand tanks with tassels. Got it?
Were werewolves, man, and we demand tanks with tassels. Got it?
Writing Tip of the Pod
Um. Everything we just said.
Dog Tip for Life
Live in your current paragraph.
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And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about fear setting and how being swallowed by a whale is bad ass.
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