Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Guide to Help with Your Writing


Did you know that there is no such thing as a bicep? It's actually a biceps... fancy?

I wonder how many other mistakes we unknowingly make in our writing. If, like me, you make your heroine wait with baited breath instead of bated breath, you might like to take a look at this really useful website that I read about in Keir Thomas' Technophobia article in Writers' Forum - called The Guardian and Observer Style guide. This has been produced for their production staff but there are some useful tips in it for all writers. It covers grammar, commonly misspelt words, punctuation and a lot of other writerly things.

The guide is alphabetically ordered and, rather than looking through all of its very extensive list, I decided to take a look at the letter 'b' and see what gems I could find.

Two of them, I have already mentioned. Here are some others:

Blackpool Pleasure Beach - is a pleasure park not a beach.

blond - is an adjective and male noun; blonde is a female noun e.g. the woman is a blonde, because she has blond hair.
 
bands - these take the plural verb e.g. Iron Maiden are a great band.
 
barracks - the army has barracks, the RAF has airfields.
 
Battersea Dogs & Cats Home - there are no apostrophes.
 
berserk - I went berserk not beserk when I found I had sold two stories this week (yes really!)
 
bourgeois - can anyone spell it without looking?
 
brackets - If the sentence is logically and grammatically complete without the information contained within the parentheses (round brackets), the punctuation stays outside the brackets. (A complete sentence that stands alone in parentheses starts with a capital letter and ends with a stop.)
 
Of course, I'm sure a lot of you will know all these already but I bet there are plenty of other things in their lists that that you don't know.

So there you have it... a little snippet of what you might discover if you follow this link. If you take a look, it would be great if you could leave a comment if you find that you didn't already know.

 

29 comments:

  1. I'd have to look up bourgeois i I wanted to write it and I didn't know about the lack of apostrophes for the cats and dogs. Congratulations on the reason for going berserk.

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    1. The more I read the lists, the more things I found that I didn't know or was doing wrong,

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  2. Thanks for the link, Wendy. Am old enough to have been taught formal grammar and spelling but some of these are new to me too. The band one surprised me and the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. It's good to keep us on our toes!

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    1. I felt quite ignorant after I'd read the rest, Jan.

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  3. I couldn't spell bourgeois without checking either! And I thought in the RAF it was an airbase... which is terrible because my youngest son works at an airbase... er airfield! Thanks for the link - I think I'm going to need it :-) x

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    1. Let's hope they've got it right, Teresa!

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  4. Love my lists, so thanks for this fab link, Wendy. Something tells me I'll be checking it out - LOTS!!

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    1. Always glad to help out a fellow 'list lady' Rena.

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  5. That's a great link, Wendy, thanks - even though I thought I knew more than I did!

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  6. Thanks for the link, Wendy. I was interested in The Battersea one as well.
    And I was surprised they say we should spell acknowledgement the American way - without the 'e' after the 'g'.

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    1. I suppose we have to remember these are guides for their journalists not set in stone but it's made me realise how much I didn't know!

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  7. Really interesting, Wendy. I think the Battersea without apostrophes is probably what the place decided, similar to how the old owners of Writers News didn't use an apostrophe because they thought it looked messy! The people who really need this guide have to be the ones responsible for subtitles on television. Sometimes I wonder if English is their second language. I just wish I could think of a few examples but they've all disappeared from the memory cells. Or perhaps gone AWOL and will eventually return.

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    1. Memory cells? I can't remember what they were!

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    2. And what about Diners Club?

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  8. Certainly been caught out by some of these and I know i can't spell No 7 on that list. I've tried!

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    1. The one I can't do is lieas.. liaso... leeas... you know the one - a close working relationship between people.

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  9. I always have trouble with blond and blonde. Love all the grammatical rules. Congratulations on the two stories, Wendy.

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    1. Than you, Keith and yes I definitely didn't know that one - they were all blonde to me.

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  10. Useful stuff. I like things to be centred 'on' something and targeted 'at' it.

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    1. Ooh, you've been doing your homework, Julia - I like this one.

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  11. Oh dear, your blog whilst fascinating has made me realise just quite how much I don't know!

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  12. This is great, Wendy, thanks. I have looked it up and bookmarked it.

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    1. I think it could be really useful, Kate.

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  13. Now I'm confused, because when I worked in a really posh hotel, the man who owned it called it an otel... in a soft voice. There was me going for it saying, 'a hotel' to be corrected in to saying, 'an otel.' It never did sound right though. Perhaps he was kidding, but I don't think so. Great post Wendy. Now I know I know nowt!!!:)))

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    1. It must be because hotel is of French origin where the h isn't pronounced I guess.

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