Friday, April 9, 2021

Those Dang Homonyms! Commonly Misspelled Words

by Jodie Renner, editor & author  

Are you at the proofreading stage of your writing project? Or just writing an email, social media post, or text message and want to make sure your spelling is correct?

Homophones/homonyms can often trip us up. If you sometimes have a "brain blip" about the spelling of some words that sound the same, bookmark this chart to help you with over 50 of the most commonly confused / misspelled sound-alikes in English

The list, with deliberately simplified definitions here, is in alphabetical order and includes some easier words you may know and others you may not be 100% sure of, such as rein/reign, illusion/allusion, oral/aural, cord/chord, pour/pore, compliment/complement, aisle/isle,  peddle/pedal, gorilla/guerrilla, exercise/exorcise, and lightning/lightening.


accept – take

except – all but this

 

affect – to cause change (verb)

effect – result of change (noun)

 

aisle – corridor in a store or church

isle – island

I'll – I will

 

allowed – permission to do

aloud – out loud (not silent)

 

allusion – an indirect reference to something

illusion – false impression, misconception

 

bare – unclothed

bear – wild animal

 

bazaar – open-air market

bizarre – strange, weird

 

beat – win, overcome; or hit, strike

beet – red vegetable

 

brake – pedal on vehicle

break – shatter, fracture

 

buy – purchase

by – go past

bye – goodbye

 

chord – musical

cord – string, rope; vocal cords

 

complement – goes well with

compliment – say something nice 

 

desert – dry, arid area    

dessert – sweet treat after meal

"just deserts" – got what was deserved

 

doe – female deer

dough – unbaked cookies, bread, etc.

 

exercise – exertion, action, practice

exorcise – to expel, to get rid of (evil spirits)



 




fair – not dark; unbiased; exhibition

fare – price for ride; food provided

 

farther – physical distance

further – additional

 

flea – bug

flee – run away 

  

gorilla – ape

guerrilla or guerilla – type of fighter



 




grisly – gruesome

grizzly – bear

 

heal – to make well

heel – back of foot

  

hear – sound

here – place

 

heroin – drug

heroine – female hero

 

hoarse – condition of throat/voice

horse – large animal

 

humerus – bone

humorous – funny



 





insure – get insurance

ensure – make sure

 

it’s – it is or it has

its – belongs to it

 

lightening – making lighter or paler

lightning – flashes in a storm

 

loose – not tight

lose – misplace, opposite of find

 

oral – related to speaking

aural – related to hearing

 

our – belongs to us

are – we are, they are

    

pain – hurt   

pane – window

 

peace – not war

piece – part, portion, fragment

 

peak – top of mountain

peek – look, glance

pique – excite, arouse (curiosity, etc.)

 

pedal – part of bike

peddle – sell

 

plain – not fancy

plane – flies in the sky

 

pore over – study carefully

pour over – dispense liquid 

 

principal – main, head of school

principle – basic truth or law

 

rain – droplets from the clouds

reign – monarch’s rule

rein – to lead a horse

 

review – look over, go over

revue – theatrical production


sail – part of a boat

sale – discounted prices


sole – one; bottom of foot

soul – spirit, spiritual part of person


stake – pointed piece of wood; prize; share

steak – cut of meat



 




stationary – not moving

stationery – writing materials

 

steal – take without permission

steel – metal


tail - part of animal

tale - story

 

than – compared to

then – what comes after

 

their – belongs to them

there – not here

they’re – they are



 




threw – tossed

through – pass in and out

 

to – where you’re going

too – also; excessive

two – 2

 

wait – don't go yet

weight – measure mass

   

weather – rain, snow, etc.

whether – choices

 

which – which one?

witch – woman with special powers

 

whine – complain

wine – beverage from grapes

 

who’s – who is

whose – belongs to ?

 

whoa – stop, cease

woe – sadness

 

write – create note, message, story with words

right – correct

 

you’re – you are

your – belongs to you


Do you have any others you'd like me to add? Please mention them in the comments below.

See also "Just the Right Word is Only a Click Away".

Have trouble remembering whether to hyphenate a word or not? Check out "It's All About Those Hyphens!"

For many more words, in alphabetical order, with explanations and examples, check out Jodie's two handy, clickable, time-saving e-resources for writers, editors, students, and anyone else with writing projects: Quick Clicks: WORD USAGE – Precise Word Choices at Your Fingertips 
With all kinds of internal links, they’re both super quick and easy to use! (They're designed to work on e-readers, tablets, laptops, and computers, but not phones.)

Click HERE to choose a way to receive email alerts of new posts published on this blog. 


Jodie Renner is a former English (and French) teacher, a freelance fiction editor and book coach,  and the award-winning author of three writing guides in her series An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: FIRE UP YOUR FICTION, CAPTIVATE YOUR READERS, and WRITING A KILLER THRILLER, as well as two clickable time-saving e-resources, QUICK CLICKS: Spelling List and QUICK CLICKS: Word Usage. She has also organized and edited two anthologies. Website: www.JodieRenner.com, Facebook, Amazon Author Page.


Friday, April 2, 2021

A Single Word Can Change the Tone


by Jodie Renner, editor & author 

In your WIP, are you inadvertently tossing in a word here and there that jolts the readers out of your story or gives an incongruous impression?

Once you’ve completed a first or second draft of your story (or your muse is taking a break), now’s the time to go back and reread each scene carefully. Does every word you’ve chosen contribute to creating the overall tone and mood you’re going for in that scene? Or are some of your word choices unintentionally detracting from the impression you want readers to take away?

Is it possible you may have unconsciously inserted the odd “cheery” word into a tense scene in your story? Or a relaxed-sounding word in a scene where the character is stressed or in a hurry? Or maybe your teenager or blue-collar worker sounds too articulate? I’ve seen examples of these quite often in the fiction I’ve edited over the years.

For example, the heroine and hero are running through the woods, pursued by bad guys intent on killing them. The debut author, thinking it’s a good idea to describe the setting, uses words like “leaves dancing in the light” and “birds chirping” and “babbling brook.” These light-hearted, cheerful words detract from the desperation she’s trying to convey as the young couple races frantically to escape their pursuers. In this situation, it would be better to use more ominous words, perhaps crows cawing, a wolf howling, water crashing over rapids, or thunder cracking.

Read through each of your scenes and make sure every word you use to describe the setting, the people, and their actions, words, and thoughts contributes to create the impression you’re going for in that scene, rather than undermining your intentions.

DESCRIBING YOUR SETTING:

Here’s an example, slightly disguised, from my editing. It’s supposed to be a tense, scary moment, but the author has, without thinking about the impact, inserted relaxed, even joyful imagery that counteracts and weakens the apprehensive mood he is trying to convey (my bolding).

He locked the door behind him, his harried mind ricocheting between frightened alertness and sheer fatigue. He took a furtive glance out the window. No one there, so far. Despite the cold, a warming shaft of morning sunlight filtered through the stained curtain, and languid dust particles slow-danced in its beam.

What had he gotten himself into? They would certainly be on to him now—it was only a matter of time before they found him. He looked out again through the thin curtain. Sunbeams were filtering through the branches of an old tree outside the window, the shriveled shapes of the leaves dancing in the breezeplaying gleefully with the light. He swore he saw movement on the ground outside—a figure.

Some of the wording in the two paragraphs above is excellent, like “his harried mind ricocheting between frightened alertness and sheer fatigue” and the phrases “furtive glance,” “stained curtain” and “shriveled shapes of the leaves.” But the boldfaced words and phrases, warming, languid, slow-danced, sunbeams, dancing in the breeze, and playing gleefully with the light weaken the imagery and tone because they’re too happy and carefree for the intended ominous mood. Perhaps the writer, caught up in describing the view outside in a literary, “writerly” way, momentarily forgot he was going for frightened.  

Check to be sure every detail of your imagery enhances the overall mood and tone of the situation.

Here’s another example where the description of the setting detracts from the power of the scene and doesn’t match how the character would or should be feeling at that moment.

The protagonist has just had a shock at the end of the last chapter, where she’s discovered her colleague murdered. This is the beginning of the next chapter, a jump of a few days.

  Mary gazed at the brightening horizon, immersing herself in the beauty of the rising sun. She watched as the dawn’s rays danced across the waves. Mary adored this time of day when the hustle and bustle had not yet started, and she could enjoy watching the waves wash in and listening to the seagulls overhead. It was one of the many reasons she loved this area so much.

  Since the murder of Teresa three days ago, Mary had been in a state of turmoil. Teresa’s death had changed everything. Gruesome images continually flickered through her mind like an unending motion picture. She could think of nothing else and was racked by guilt.

 To me, the two paragraphs seem contradictory in mood. If she’s racked by guilt and can think of nothing else, how can she enjoy the sunrise so much?

Be sure to choose words that fit the mood you’re trying to convey.

 THOUGHTS, IMPRESSIONS, & IMAGERY:

Here’s another example of a tense, life-threatening scene whose power and tension have been inadvertently eroded by almost comical imagery.

...

To read the rest of this blog post by Jodie Renner, published over at The Kill Zone Blog, click HERE.


Jodie Renner is a freelance fiction editor and the award-winning author of three craft-of-writing guides in her series An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: FIRE UP YOUR FICTION,  CAPTIVATE YOUR READERS, and WRITING A KILLER THRILLER, as well as two clickable time-saving e-resources, QUICK CLICKS: Spelling List and QUICK CLICKS: Word Usage. She has also organized two anthologies for charity: VOICES FROM THE VALLEYS – Stories and Poems about Life in BC’s Interior, and CHILDHOOD REGAINED – Stories of Hope for Asian Child Workers. You can find Jodie on her Amazon Author Page, at www.JodieRenner.com, and on Facebook.