#FromTheArchives – #WhyWriteWrong – Originally Posted July 14, 2017

Twice lately, I have been pulled right out of a story I was reading by the phrase “baited breath,” and I realized this is a mistake far too many people are making. One does not have “baited breath” unless one has been eating worms or shiners. Honest.

The correct word in this case is “bated,” as in “abated” meaning something that has ceased happening. Like breathing. In other words, the phrase “bated breath” means someone is holding his breath, whereas to say “baited breath” implies someone has very odd dining habits.

The Serious Example:

The accused murderer awaited the jury’s verdict with bated breath. (He was holding his breath).

The Silly example:

The cat ate every shiner in the pail and ended up with baited breath.  (The cat now smells fishy.)

Hope this helps sort out the difference between bated and baited. (But I’m not holding my breath here. 😀 )

***

DISCLAIMER:
I am not an English teacher, grammarian, or expert on all matters of this nature, but I promise I have consulted with those who are before posting anything in this series.

whywritewrong1

An Update on #TheWriteStuff

Wanted to start the week off with an update for you guys, especially for new followers who don’t know that I used to run regular weekly or monthly features here on The Write Stuff. Most of you do know that I’ve been generally whining, and grumbling, and otherwise making a nuisance of myself about being so far behind on everything I’m trying to do. Well, it’s time for that to STOP!

No, I haven’t magically caught up with everything overnight, but the good news is, I’m making slow, steady progress, knock wood! And I am ready to start reintroducing the features we used to enjoy around here. It might take me a few weeks to get all of them “up and running,” but you can expect to see the following things coming back on board–and some of them will probably start this week, alongside a few that never totally went away.

  • #MondayMeme – Memes with a writing/reading/books theme
  • #Thorsday Smile – Things I think are funny & hope you’ll enjoy
  • #WhyWriteWrong? – Words I see misused fairly often
  • #ShareAReviewDay – Recent/favorite reviews submitted by you guys
  • #ExcerptWeek – A week of sharing excerpts from your book of choice
  • #FabulousFridayGuestBlogger – Self-explanatory
  • #LifeLessonsFromOz – Vids I share for a smile (and perhaps a lesson?)
  • #MidWeekPOV – Just some things/ideas I share now and then
  • #InspirationBoardSunday – Images/Ideas/CoverArt I find inspiring

Some of these are meant to be weekly features, though it might take me a couple weeks to get them up and running. Some are posted randomly as the mood or subject matter strikes my fancy. But ALL are coming back over the next couple of months. And many of them involve you wonderful bloggers and authors “out there.” You’ll be invited when these come up, and I’ll explain how to participate in them at that time.

Hope you’ll enjoy having these features back again, and will want to take part in some of them. I know many of you would probably love to share your reviews and excerpts with us, and your latest promo news, releases, cover reveals, etc, as well. And I’m really looking forward to helping you do just that.

To begin, I’ll be posting some archived samples of these features over the next week or two, so you see what they’re all about, and will feel comfortable joining in.

Stay tuned, my wonderful friends! I can hardly wait to get the ball rolling!

#WhyWriteWrong – To Peek or Not to Peek

 

Haven’t done a Why Write Wrong post in some time and would like to get back on track with them, so I’m taking a moment tonight to talk about three words that I see misused fairly often, especially the third: Peek, peak, and pique. These words are not interchangeable, though in the last week, I have seen all three misused in a series I’ve been reading, and more than once, at that. Let’s take a look at them.

Though all three are pronounced exactly the same way, they are very different in meaning, to wit:

Peek is to take a quick look at something, perhaps in a sneaky manner. He peeked at the answers to his homework assignment. If what you want to say deals with the way your character is looking at something, you want PEEK.

Peak is usually used to reference the summit  or highest point of something. The peak of the mountain was covered with snow. Or perhaps: The whipped cream was mounded on the top of the pie in fluffy peaks. It could also work for a summit a bit less tangible, like: The child actor’s popularity peaked when she was a mere eight years of age.

Pique is definitely the one misused most often. Pique is a state of irritation or resentment. It can also be used to indicate  the rousing of curiosity. Her spiteful tone left him in a fit of pique. Or: His curiosity was piqued by the mysterious letter. So this one deals with emotions, and has nothing to do with peeking through a crack in the door, or climbing to the peak of the jungle gym.

Now, have I piqued your curiosity enough to wonder if your blinds are pulled, so no one can peek in your windows and discover you’re the annoying neighbor playing your stereo at peak volume? (Oh, even I’M groaning that one!) But you get my drift. And I hope this helps clear up any confusion about these three words.

Signing off now. As you were, folks! 😀

#WhyWriteWrong – Baited vs Bated

Twice lately, I have been pulled right out of a story I was reading by the phrase “baited breath,” and I realized this is a mistake far too many people are making. One does not have “baited breath” unless one has been eating worms or shiners. Honest.

The correct word in this case is “bated,” as in “abated” meaning something that has ceased happening. Like breathing. In other words, the phrase “bated breath” means someone is holding his breath, whereas to say “baited breath” implies someone has very odd dining habits.

The Serious Example:

The accused murderer awaited the jury’s verdict with bated breath. (He was holding his breath).

The Silly example:

The cat ate every shiner in the pail, ending up with baited breath.  (The cat now smells fishy.)

Hope this helps sort out the difference between bated and baited. (But I’m not holding my breath here. 😀 )

#WhyWriteWrong


A Bank of Transparent Windows

Every now and then, I see words while reading that pop out at me as being used incorrectly. Let me say right up front, I’m not an English teacher, nor a grammarian, but sometimes, it’s pretty obvious that the word has been misused. It happens to all of us from time to time, but we should strive to do better, right? With that thought in mind, here are two examples of misused words I’ve noticed recently.

The first word is opaque. Believe it or not, I see this word being misused fairly often. “She gazed at the rose garden through the opaque windows of the greenhouse.” Huh? Not very likely. Opaque and transparent are exact opposites. Opaque is defined as not able to be seen through, or not transparent.

Example: “The windows were opaque with steam.”
Synonyms: cloudy, filmy, blurred, smeared, misty, hazy, etc.

So be sure your (clean) windows are transparent, and your thoughts, perhaps, opaque.

My second example involves a more confusing pair of words, which are very often misused in both common speech, and in published books. Let’s take a look at home versus hone.

The word home, in addition to meaning a place of residence, also refers to the act of heading home, much like a homing pigeon. “To move  or be aimed toward a target or destination with great accuracy, as in: “More than 100 missiles were launched, homing in on radar emissions.”

Hone, on the other hand, means to sharpen, as a knife or axe. It also means to refine or perfect something over a period of time. “She has taken numerous workshops to hone her skills over the years”

So if you are writing about someone moving toward or seeking a target destination, you use home. “She homed in on the source of the delicious aroma.”

If you are talking about perfecting a skill, the word choice is hone. “With every new book, the writer honed her vocabulary skills.”

And there you have it. No more being able to look through opaque windows, and no more “honing in on the pigeon’s nest.”

See? Easy-peasy!

 

#WhyWriteWrong – Uncharted vs Unchartered

I started this new feature about two months or so ago, but various tiny things (publishing a new book, pneumonia, stuff like that) got in the way of a lot of my blogging. So, now that at least the Kindle version of That Darkest Place is out there, and the print version is underway, I thought I’d try to get back to my normal blogging routine.

As it happens, I just noticed (for the third time, recently) a misused word. Perfect fodder for today’s #WhyWriteWrong post. And here it is: Unchartered vs Uncharted.

Almost always, the writer is trying to say something is new territory. Unexplored. Unknown. Unmapped. It’s that last one that should help the most. Maps = charts. If you are describing a new place, idea, or even a situation, uncharted is what you want.

A charter is a contract, agreement, or license. If you are writing about a corporation or other group entity that is newly formed, then you might actually want to describe it as unchartered.

For the most part, however, something akin to “uncharted waters” is likely the direction you’re heading.

And there you have it. Sail on with your day now, hopefully not into uncharted waters . . . unless you are up for an adventure. In that case, happy explorations!

 

#WhyWriteWrong – New Meme, Perhaps?

mainpage_tools

Been thinking for some time about starting a new writing meme, and after searching around on Twitter for a phrase not currently in use, I think #WhyWriteWrong might work. Basically, it’s just my way of introducing the occasional post on mistakes I spot while reading. Especially the ones that really jump out at me, pulling me out of the story long enough to think (or sometimes yell) “Noooo! That’s just wrong!” I’m hoping this idea might be helpful and/or fun.

My first post is the one freshest in my memory. (Gotta grab those stray thoughts, while I can!) I recently read a very good book by an author MUCH more renowned that I’ll ever hope to be, and it was an entertaining story. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Except for the fact that the author persisted in “wrecking havoc,” not once, but several times. For those of you unfamiliar with the phrase, one does not “wreck” havoc. One “wreaks” havoc. Not spelled the same, not pronounced the same. (First one, of course, is pronounced, “reck,” and the second “reek.”)

I’m pretty sure this mistake isn’t rare, though I didn’t expect to see it made by this author. So, I figured I’d share it here, as a reminder that creating mayhem and tearing things apart, willy-nilly, is “wreaking havoc.” Of course, one can leave behind a wreck if one wreaks enough havoc. That’s a given. But “wreak” and “wreck” are not interchangeable. Honest.

And there you have today’s #WhyWriteWrong post.  We all have words and expressions we misuse, so I’m thinking this could be of help. Yes? No?  Maybe?

What do you think?

DISCLAIMER:   I am not a grammarian or English professor, but I promise not to post something under this meme that I haven’t verified with those who are.