Monday, August 23, 2010

I Kan Spel Gud

Nothing says “amateur” more than egregious typos in your query letter. (Ok, maybe neon colored fonts and seizure-inducing backgrounds.)

It’s no secret that spelling errors are often seen as indications of a less-than-standard intelligence. There are an incredible amount of people who are too stupid to spell right. They call that texting (ooooh, snap! Just kidding.) However, there are plenty people who are cavalier about spelling.

Then there are those of us who are writers and who love words enough that we don’t want to mangle them. Or we’re doing the query slog and for once we’re paying attention to spelling.

No matter where we are on the spelling adventure (that is an ironic moment fyi) it’s also true that every single one of us has #spellingfail moments.

For some it’s certain words or grammar rules that we just never get right. I mean, I know the “I Before E” rule, but the word piece always causes a near meltdown. If I didn’t have spell check automatically correcting it… well, you’d be reading a lot of peice.

I have a copywriter friend who goes into foaming fits when she sees apostrophe misuse (its vs it’s). Others will tell you the grammar rule or handy mnemonic as if you hadn’t already tried to batter the typos to death with logic.

You can’t escape typos. You won’t remember every grammar rule, keep every homonym straight, you won’t always put hyphens in the right spot. So instead of beating yourself up, just make sure you do due diligence. (I said do due)

The short and skinny is: spell check first, but don’t stop there because spell check is not always trustworthy.

Have a person look it over who can spell (and who likely already corrects your grammar).

Any words or phrases you aren’t entirely ABSOLUTELY certain about check in a dictionary.

I recently learned I was misusing the word prevaricate. (Some of you have never even heard of that word, much less misused it.) I once got the meaning of preclude turned completely around in the crucial argument of a term paper.

And lastly: READ. Read a lot. (not alot, which according to Allie Brosh is a gentle creature who is much maligned by people.)

Immerse yourself in words spelled and used correctly and you’ll start correcting your typos automatically. Except peice. Piece. Crap.

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