Grammar Tip: An Aitch or A Haitch

HNot long ago, a publishing friend of mine asked me a question, as she was having a teensy little contretemps with an author, whose book she was about to publish.  He was so insistent that the part of his book’s title, which contained the word ‘historical’, should be ‘an historical’.  In fact, he was so insistent, it made her doubt her own knowledge.

So, let’s try and clarify this.  ‘H’, when aspirated, i.e. pronounced with a ‘huh’ sound, is a consonant. Words that begin with a consonant, when preceded by an indefinite pronoun, are therefore introduced with ‘a’. Continue reading “Grammar Tip: An Aitch or A Haitch”

Lather, Rinse, Explain, Repeat: Redundancy in Writing

Redundancy DeptYour main character has fled from the office she shares with a close co-worker and friend, and has run to the boss’s office. There, in a key scene, she has emoted all over herself, revealing a deep, dark personal secret thereby. (Yes, she still has a job at the end of the scene.) Now she’s back in her own office. Her friend gets in her face and says, “For the love of Pete, would you please tell me what this is all about?”

Your main character is hesitant, but then mutters to herself, “What the heck. The whole world will know by tomorrow.”

Choose what happens next:

  1. Your main character rehashes, practically word for word, the conversation she just had with the boss.
  2. Your main character gives her friend a severely truncated version of the conversation with the boss – the Reader’s Digest version, if you will.
  3. You, as the author, sum up the conversation in a sentence similar to this one: “She told her friend the whole story.”

Got your choice? Continue reading “Lather, Rinse, Explain, Repeat: Redundancy in Writing”

Do you tautologise?

TautologyI bet you do. In fact, I’m sure you do from time to time. Maybe rarely, but I’m certain you’ve done it at least once. In fact, I know you have because I’ve come across quite often in the books I’ve reviewed.

Tautology. What is it? It’s “the use of words that merely repeat elements of the meaning already conveyed”, e.g.: they arrived one after the other in succession. ‘In succession’ means ‘one after the other’. In effect, that sentence says: they arrived one after the other one after the other.

It’s an easy trap to fall into when you’re writing, but it’s something to try to spot in your scrupulously thorough self-editing. However, as with most glitches, it’s more likely to be spotted by your beta reader or editor.

What are common examples of tautology ? Here are some you may recognise and just may have used yourself. Some are taken from books I have reviewed: Continue reading “Do you tautologise?”

Mistakes I Made So You Don’t Have To

Guest post
by Mark Hamner

I learned a lot from my first foray into novel writing, to say the least. Most of these various lessons were, I hate to say, learned the hard way. Let’s take a look at two of my…learning opportunities…in the hope they may help some new writer somewhere to avoid the mistakes I made the first time out. Continue reading “Mistakes I Made So You Don’t Have To”