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Here are some words that sound similar but have very different meanings:


Complement vs. Compliment


Complement means to go well with, supplement.


  • That dress really complements the green in Jennifer's eyes


Compliment means to flatter


  • Gloria wants to compliment Jen on her how well her dress complements the green in her eyes.


Complementary vs. Complimentary


Complementary means goes well with, or acts as a complement.


  • That dress is complementary to the green in Jennifer's eyes.


Complimentary means offering flattery or praise. It also means free.


  • Gloria was quite complimentary of Jennifer's pretty dress.


  • The tickets to the theater were complimentary as a thank-you for her charitable donation.


Assent vs. Ascent


Assent means to agree or approve.


  • After hours of deliberation, the condo association assented to Larry's request to add a deck to his unit.


Ascent means the act of moving upward.


  • Gloria's rapid ascent of the corporate ladder was much deserved.


Amiable vs. Amicable


Amiable means friendly and refers to a person.


  • Jennifer's amiable demeanor helped her smooth things over with the customer after she accidentally spilled a cup of coffee on him.  


Amicable means friendly and refers to a relationship.


  • George and Luisa are no longer living together, but they came to an amicable agreement about how to divide up their furniture.


Refer vs. Recommend


Refer means to send or direct for treatment or information.


  • Laura's primary care doctor referred her to a specialist for her knee pain.


(There are other meanings for "refer," but this is the one that gets confused with "recommend.")


Recommend means to endorse.


  • Laura's primary care doctor recommended a specialist for her knee pain.


What word pairs trip you up? Please share in the comments!


-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


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Refresher on who vs. whom

More words that shouldn't be capitalized

708 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, words, grammar, homophones
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In our second stage of writing a book, we need to establish the miles you'll be logging on this journey. We've discussed word count on this blog before in a number of different ways. Today, we want to establish what your final word count will be, or if not establish, at the very least, estimate.

 

Wait, you say, I've only just begun. How can I possibly know how many total words my book will be? Establishing a word count goal can be tied to many different factors. Genres adhere to unofficial word count parameters. The type of book – novel, novella, or novelette – comes into play when deciding word count. Are you doing a novel and releasing it in a serialized format? That can impact your total word count on a per release basis. You are a factor in establishing a final word count. Are you on a timetable? Do you have an outline that maps out plot points precisely, and in order to keep to your vision, a certain word count works that breaks the unwritten genre rules?

 

Unfortunately, there's no formula for coming up with a definitive word count, but I will say that every time I've set a word count total, I have either reached that total or surpassed it by 10-15 percent. There's something about knowing how far you need to go that allows you to find your pacing.

 

If you want to make an educated estimate, you can search this blog or the internet for word counts based on genre. That is your best place to start before making your final decision.

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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General Word Count Guidelines

Stage One of Writing a Book: Idea Exploration

3,606 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, editing, writing, craft, words, word_count, writing_tips, editing_process
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Don't Call This Post "Nice"

It may be the most mysterious word in the English language. It's usually meant as a compliment, but often it is perceived as an insult. What is this magic word? "Nice." That one word can derail a date before it's even started. It has the power to sever the closest of relationships. It can even cause unrest in an otherwise solid marriage. So how did such a nice word get such a bad reputation?

 

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, "nice" has its origin in Latin, coming from nescius ("ignorant, not knowing"), a compound of the stem of scire ("to know") + the prefix ne- ("not"). The word evolved from there into the Old French nice, niche, nisce ("simple, foolish, ignorant"). By the late 13th century, it was a Middle English word: nice, nyce, nys (meaning essentially "foolish, stupid, senseless").

 

You can read the entire article on PWxyz: The Worst Word in the English Language is "Nice"

 

Marketing is Just a Phone Call Away

Jonah Hill is a fairly big star these days. He starred in a movie opposite Brad Pitt. He's got his own animated series coming to network television. He's appeared in numerous top-quality comedies. Surely he can rest on his laurels. Maybe not. Hill has taken an active role in the marketing of his new film "The Sitter." When I say active, I mean active.

 

Fox recently dispersed posters across the country printed with Mr. Hill's image, the message "Need a Sitter?" and phone numbers on tear-off tabs. About 250,000 people called and nearly half left voicemails. Here comes the unusual part: Mr. Hill agreed to carry around the phone belonging to that number and randomly answer calls himself. A Fox spokesman said he had answered a few dozen times. On Wednesday, he began turning the tables and returning messages.

 

You can read the entire article on The New York Times' website: Will Phone Stunt for 'The Sitter' Yield Right Numbers at Box Office?


The Cristal Baschet

Musical instruments come in all shapes and sizes. They incorporate wood, steel, brass, ivory...virtually any material you can imagine. I'm familiar with your basic musical instruments, but I admit ignorance when it comes to the more exotic ones. For instance, I had never heard of a cristal baschet until reading about it in today's Los Angeles Times. Frankly, now I want to see one up close and personal.


The cristal baschet is one of the most beautiful musical instruments you will ever see, made of vibrating, tuned steel, fiberglass amplification cones and wire "whiskers" that shimmy when fingers rub the glass-rod keyboard. Film composer Cliff Martinez's version, which resides in the living room of his Topanga Canyon home, is about the size of an upright piano and is as much sculpture as instrument.

 

You can read the entire article on The Los Angeles Times' website: Cliff Martinez scores a strange success with 'Drive'


-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - October 21, 2011

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - October 14, 2011

1,808 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: marketing, marketing, music, music, filmmaking, filmmaking, writing, writing, hollywood, hollywood, words, words, nice, nice
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I found a blog a while ago that focused on the craft of writing. Most of the posts were entertaining and useful, but one irritated me. The subject of the post was dead giveaways that something is written by a novice writer. The most significant "giveaway" was that new writers use some words way too much. This particular poster's belief was that their limited writing talents led to limited use of words.

 

I disagree. I'm not saying you should use the same word for a certain action or description ad nauseam, but good writing relies on the rhythm of the prose. Once you establish a certain rhythm, the reader is more likely to make a connection with the story. Breaking out the thesaurus to find a different way to say a word you've used before is a good way to lose that rhythm and lose the reader in the process.

 

I decided to "look" up some of the words on the poster's list that are overused by novice writers and "see" how successful writers like Stephen King, Elmore Leonard, Cormac McCarthy, and Anne Lamott used them, or "overused" them, as the case may be. I chose one book by each author at random and came up with an average among the four for each word. Here's what I found:

 

  • See - Occurred an average 163 times. This does not include the word seeing.
  • Look - Occurred an average 134 times. This does not include the word in all its forms (i.e. looked, looking, looks)
  • Turn - Occurred an average 38 times. This does not include the word in all its forms (i.e. turns, turning, turned)
  • Breath - Occurred an average 18 times. This does not include the word in all its forms (i.e. breathes, breathed, breathe)

 

The bottom line of my unscientific experiment is that sometimes it's necessary to use the same word repeatedly. Don't beat yourself up trying to find an alternative. Your story has a rhythm, and you shouldn't let someone else's rules of writing destroy that rhythm. Your talent as a writer isn't dictated by the variety of words you use. It's the way you use words to tell your story that matters. So, take a deep breath, turn to a mirror, look yourself in the eyes, and say, "I'll only use the words that I need to use to tell my story. No more. No less."

 

See, don't you feel better?

 

-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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When Writing, Don't Outsmart Yourself

Making Up Words: How Much is Too Much?

3,264 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, book, writers, writing, craft, words
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I once heard a friend say that his enjoyment of a science fiction or fantasy novel is inversely proportionate to the number of words the author invented for the novel. The more made-up words within the lines of text, the less my friend enjoyed the book. And I have to say, I agree in most cases. As a reader, I want to be totally immersed in a story. I want to forget about my surroundings, my stack of bills, my delayed flight, etc. For me to sink into the soft, feathery realm of reading, I have to find enough of the familiar in a novel to get into the story zone. Obviously, the thing that I am most familiar with is the language. The words are what guide me. When an author introduces a made-up word, I am jolted out of the story.

 

Now, I happen to write books that dip into the worlds of science fiction and fantasy, so it is necessary for me to invent a word or two from time to time. I've created names for races of monsters. I've invented a special form of meditation that not only had a made-up, three-part name, but was referred to by its acronym throughout most of the book. I've even created a few words for a fictional ancient language.

 

Sometimes in fictional stories, you cannot avoid the occasional made-up word. I'm of the mind that doing so is fine as long as it's done in moderation. The truth is, it's fun making up words, particularly if they sound authentic; but they can very easily become a crutch, and you can overdo it. This article by Jo Walton on Tor.com has an interesting take on using made-up words: Like swords, but awesomer: Made up words in science fiction and fantasy. She goes as far as to adopt a "five made-up words per book" rule of thumb. It's important to note that she doesn't include names in that count. I think that limiting yourself to five made-up words is a pretty good guide to follow, but since rules are meant to be broken, you can go outside this occasionally when the narrative demands it. Just be sure your made-up words advance the overall story by adding substance or context.

 

Made-up words resonate when they are simple. The more complicated and awkward they are, the greater risk they have of pulling your reader out of the story. "Catch-22" is a great example of a made-up word or phrase that hits the mark. Robert A. Heinlein gave us "grok" in his book Stranger in a Strange Land. When you "grok" someone or something, you understand the person or concept on a very deep level. And a "Yahoo" was a member of a fictional race of people in Gulliver's Travels long before it was an online company. These words work because their basic structure doesn't go too far outside the rules of English. Authors tend to run into trouble when they pile consonants on top of each other or create a vowel sound. Instead, build a word by sticking with what you know. If you're interested in reading more about this topic, here's a great article in The Huffington Post that expounds upon the practice of making up words in literature: What Do Hobbits, Robots, and Yahoos Have In Common? They're Famous Authors' Made Up Words.

 

Do you ever include made-up words in your writing? Share some of the words (and definitions!) in the comments.

 

-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Does Grammar Matter?

The Point Where a Bestselling Book Lost Me

1,910 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, writers, writers, writing, writing, craft, craft, words, words
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Words fascinate me. I assume that the same holds true for every writer. After all, we'd be nothing without them. So, what is the story behind this tool called the English language we use to create our stories? I did some digging and found out the following:


  • On June 10, 2009, the English language passed the million-word threshold.
  • A new word is created every 98 minutes.
  • Today's most celebrated authors use about 7,500 different words.
  • The average English-speaking person has a vocabulary of about 2,000 words.
  • William Shakespeare used about 21,000 different words during a time when the average vocabulary was 500 words.


One of the joys I get out of reading a book is discovering an author's use of obscure words. It often gives me an intellectual jolt and puts a smile on my face. Granted, I'm looking at it from a writer's point of view. I suppose there is the danger of using a word so obscure that it removes the reader from the story. But, isn't that true with all commercial art? Don't we as artists walk the fine line between showing off just a little bit and entertaining the consumer?


So, the question begs, is William Shakespeare considered one of the great writers because he used such a wide variety of words, or is it because of the way he used the words? Would we all be better writers if we expanded our vocabulary?


By the way, I used two sources for today's blog: William Shakespeare Elizabethan Dictionary and The Global Language Monitor. Here's a link to a great segment on NPR from 2006, when there were only 986,120 English words: The English Language: 900,000 Words, and Counting.


-Richard


Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Does Grammar Matter?

He said I used the word "said" too much

1,778 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, art, book, self-publishing, writers, writing, craft, screenwriting, words, vocabulary


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