Writing Questions Answered!

So here we are, almost at the end of the twelve days of Christmas. The gifts, the wrapping, and the leftovers have pretty much been enjoyed, put away, and consumed.

And we’re thinking about what 2018 will bring – and perhaps even making some resolutions, or thinking about unfinished 2017 business: Things we accomplished (give yourself a pat on the back!), things to finish up, and things to follow up on.

Time to clear the head, and get started on 2018 without the “mental leftovers.” Here are three tips you might find useful:

  1. Check into those words that you just haven’t had time to look up, or words that you mean to work into a conversation – written or spoken, but just haven’t gotten around to yet, if ever.

But here’s a word of caution from a real word lover: Consider your reader, consider your words. For clarity, select words your reader will be sure to understand. Too many “vocabulary words” frequently cause confusion, maybe frustration, and generally cause the reader to quit reading. These words can also create an undesirable “show off,” or “put down” tone you may not be aware of, or want to create with one group of readers, while other readers will love them! Know your reader.

That being said, words are great fun – check your word list just for your own pleasure and to add to your own understanding. At the very least, you will be able to clear your mind of the question marks and gain new confidence – whether you ever use those words or not!

  1. Try “punching up” the words you use, to add color, interest, or importance to what you are saying. As ever, consider your reader. For homogenous groups, certain words and phrases will work well, while “outsiders” may not relate.

For a mixed readership, which is frequently the case, it’s probably best to work with words or phrases that are commonly known and used. For example, to make “occasional” more important, how about “once-in-a-lifetime” (assuming it’s true) – or?

  1. Become aware of common grammatical errors you may not know you are making and gradually fix them. For quickest results, focus on them one at a time.

Week one, you may want to focus on keeping your commas and periods inside of the quotation marks (“ ,” or “.”) and the colons and semicolons outside of the quotation marks (“  “: or “  “;).

Week two, you may want to continue this focus, and add the question mark and the exclamation point, which also go outside of the quotation marks, unless they are part of the quotation.

To test yourself on the most common grammatical or usage errors you may not know you are making, go to http://www.gailtycer.com/quiz.html

That’s enough for one week. Let me know how you are doing!



Gail Tycer offers business writing workshops and presentations; executive coaching, consulting, writing, and editing services. Call Gail at 503/292-9681, or email gail@gailtycer.com to learn more.

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