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Casting a Writer’s Spell

It amazes me how many publications I read where there are glaring spelling mistakes. Some people rely on their computer’s spell check, but that may be lulling us into lassitude about good common sense spelling. Every writer should have at least one dictionary, though several would be even better. Learn that the dictionary is your pal, with a flick of a few pages you can spell something the right way instead of the wrong way.

Even the most educated person can put out writing that contains obvious spelling errors. I don’t want to send an editor a manuscript with glaring mistakes that make me look unprofessional. There is never a right time to relax over spelling. Now if it seems I am obsessed with the subject, I am. Since the advent of computers and spelling aids I find a real carelessness in printed material.

When young people ask me what I feel is important for a good writer to master, I tell them editing and careful attention to the words you are using. Manuscripts come to me with the most outrageous errors. These should have been caught before ever submitting the write to a publisher, or someone you wish to have look over your work. If in doubt, look it up. There are many good dictionary programs on the computer where you just enter the word you want, or as close to it as possible, and the program will help you with your definition.

Some of the most common mistakes are different spellings for words that sound the same. For instance, who’s and whose. Just remember that the first spelling is a contraction of who is, as in who’s coming to the party. You can figure out many words with a little thought and logic. In grade school our Principal came into the classroom and said principal, with that spelling was easy if you remembered that the principal is your “pal”. That stuck with me.

I use other memory tricks with words. Take dessert and desert. How to remember those? I think of a desert being a barren place, so has only one ‘s’. It doesn’t matter what triggers you use, mnemonics can be a great tool. Another puzzler is with your and you’re. Again we look to the you’re to know it is a contraction, while your is a possessive.

Spell check is a great help, but it can add to spelling errors. If the word you use is in the dictionary, it may not show it as an error, even though it is. This is when you use editing and proof-reading to catch such flaws. If an editor sees your submission is proofed and neatly put together, as well as having no spelling errors, your submission will have a much better chance than one with errors.

If you want to be a productive writer, attention to detail is a must. There are thousands of writers out there and your work must have that extra edge to be accepted. Writing is hard work and you must decide how much effort you are willing to expend to assure it is your best work.

Writing is neither work nor hobby, but a
compulsive obsession.

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The following comments are for "Casting a Writer's Spell"
by Ladypoet

I am with you entirely on this one Ladypoet. I also am a stickler for good spelling. Bad spelling does the English language an injustice. What I really "hate" is seeing spelling mistakes in store windows! Each and every time I'll go in and point out the mistake; sometimes I'm thanked, and other times...let's just say it doesn't go well. Really entoyed (ha! ha!) your article.

( Posted by: mollie777 [Member] On: February 17, 2006 )

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