BOOK RIOT

Why do some authors choose to use pseudonyms?

Defining life through a series of authors. Here’s one Rioter’s 16.

Defining life through a series of authors. Here’s one Rioter’s 16.

Always helpful, Chuck Wendig provides a flowchart to help you determine: are you a real writer?

Always helpful, Chuck Wendig provides a flowchart to help you determine: are you a real writer?

Which writing books to read and which to skip? Find out in Buy, Borrow, Bypass.

The book has been everywhere I’ve been for the last twelve years, and really none of the places I am now. In a way, that’s actually a good thing. Shine Shine Shine, especially in its multiple drafts and radically changing structures, is a record of my own evolution as a person. It’s my growing-up book. Now I’m writing a new book in a new room, and it feels pretty good.
I was bored… – “I am so far beyond you in literary talent that any consideration of your petty writer feelings would be like God coddling a lonely E. coli. Be gone, workshop germ!”
Invented Words for Common Writing Mistakes

I’ve been teaching writing to college students for ten years now. I’ve had writers so bad that I couldn’t believe they were accepted to an Ivy League university and writers so good I couldn’t believe that they weren’t.

Like most teachers of writing, I’ve found myself making the same corrections and trying to fix the same bad habits over and over again. Its/it’s. Your/You’re. You know the drill. This isn’t even the fun part of teaching writing (yes, there are some). This is the cleaning the toilets part; take care of it now, but you know you are still going to have to do it later.

But, to make this part a little less painful, I got the idea (see #1 below) to give these everyday, crazy-making mistakes silly, memorable names, in the hopes that my students would pause over their “whos” and “theres” and “effects” long enough for their better grammatical angels to take over.

And it kinda works. Here they are (these are all nouns):

1. Itso: using It’s instead of its (or vice versa)

This one comes from John Gruber and was the inspiration for the rest of the list. The genius of this is that there are only two options, so telling someone they have an itso in the last sentence of the second paragraph both locates the error and its needed correction.

3. Yourick: confusing “you’re” with “your.”

This mistake is generally just someone typing too fast, so even the slightest of pauses usually prevents it. With itsos, sometimes the writer genuinely isn’t sure which one to use.

3. Theroid: using the incorrect version of their/there/they’re. 

This one has three possible solutions, so theroid A means replace with “their”; theroid B means replace with “there”; and theroid C means replace with “they’re.”

4. Whorum: confusing “who” for “whom” or vice versa.

While noting a “whorum” does show the reader where the mistake is and how to fix it, whorums usually indicate a fundamental misunderstanding, as most of us have to pause already to figure out if we need to use “whom.”

5. Thanos: mistaken use of “then” for “than” or vice versa.

It’s shocking how many people don’t even know they are making this mistake, though nearly all of them get it once shown. This term has the highest “cure” rate on this list.

6. Plussesive: either using an apostrophe to indicate a possessive or omitting a needed apostrophe on a possessive. 

I can only read “Hamlets indecision about whether or not to kill Polonius dooms him” so many times before I myself want to drink poison and stab everyone in the room.

7. Layvar: confusing “lay” for “lie” or vice versa.

If I don’t pay attention, this is one I can still screw up. So I built the clue into the term a little. “Lay” is a transitive verb, so it needs an object, as in “chickens lay eggs.” By having something after the word “lay” in the term name (“var”), I am reminded that if “lay” is correct, something needs to come after it (the object of the verb).

8. Effectite: confusing “effect” for “affect” and vice versa.

This one also has a clue to the correct usage in its name. “Effect” is a noun, and “affect” is a verb. So since this term is itself a noun with “effect” in it, it’s a quick reminder that “effect” is the noun form.

Apparently, the main purpose of inventive spelling is to preserve the self-esteem of students. I guess…the idea is… it will hurt their feelings too much… if adults tell them… that they spelled a word wrong? No, I do not accept this. I have to call shenanigans on this touchy-feeliness so hard. Do we even REMEMBER pioneer times where kids had to milk cows at four in the morning and then walk five miles to school in the snow and then every once in a while they would get typhoid? Am I the only one here who played Oregon Trail growing up? Kids are CAPABLE. They are resilient motherbuggers. They can survive scary diseases and harsh elements. Not that they SHOULD. But they CAN. I think they can handle being told they didn’t use the right version of “your” in a sentence without having to work it out in psychotherapy years later.
Dream of writing more? These IKEA sheets oughta keep you inspired!
Decorating Tips for Aspiring Writers

Dream of writing more? These IKEA sheets oughta keep you inspired!

Decorating Tips for Aspiring Writers