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Time’s on Your Side

Time’s on Your Side

Each genre of writing has a timeframe, its temporal setting—for news, product reviews, press releases, and nearly all corporate writing; the timeframe is the present. Anything else—celebrity profiles, short stories, screenplays and stage plays, novels—can have any sort of timeframe you wish. A story about a Civil War soldier can be told in the present tense, as if it’s a thriller...

The Vagaries of Double Negatives

The Vagaries of Double Negatives

As all high school graduates know—or are supposed to know—in modern English, double negatives are considered at best improper and at worst, indicative of semi-literacy. “I don’t have none” is an ungrammatical response to a question such as “Do you have any money?” Even more ungrammatical are “stacked” negative elements, such as “I don’t have none never.”

The Perspective of POV or Point of View

The Perspective of POV or Point of View

Every piece of writing is founded on a point of view, or “POV” in screenwriters’ parlance. A story’s point of view may be objective or subjective, from inside or outside depicted events—sometimes called “interiority” and “exteriority” by writing teachers—and may have a singular perspective or multiple perspectives. 

Awkward Construction Versus Narrative Flow

Awkward Construction Versus Narrative Flow

Awkward sentence construction interferes with narrative flow in every kind of prose, from news reporting to fiction. Sometimes it’s unintentional on the part of harried or wooden-eared writers, and sometimes it’s a conscious attempt to adhere to a publication’s “house style.”

Feet, Feat, Fete: The Deceptive Allure of Spell-checking

Feet, Feat, Fete: The Deceptive Allure of Spell-checking

Feet, feat, and fete: English is riddled with homophones, words that are pronounced alike but are spelled differently and have different meanings. In this case:  your pedal extremities, an achievement, and a celebration—all concepts so wildly divergent that it would be difficult to mistake one for the other, unless you are relying on your word processor’s spell-check function to make sure you have used the right one.