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Over-Used Concepts

posted Aug 24, 2012, 2:23 PM by David Burkhart   [ updated Aug 24, 2012, 2:23 PM ]
Writing magazines, how-to-write books, and instructors of writing seminars inevitably mention to fledgling writers that there are five things to remember when writing. Recently I saw a headline that announced, "The Five Most Important Things That Effect Writing."

Eager to read something I did not know, I purchased the magazine only to see that the article was about five things writers needed to know about commas. Although the points were valid, it was not anything that could not have been looked up in a writing handbook. And, if a writer has problems remembering rules about conjunctive adverbs or comma splices, he or she needs to keep a list of how-to's in a small notebook that is handy when writing.

There is not a concrete list of only five things that are overlooked and underused by all writers.Some writers could possibly compile a list of 20 things they need to remember. Experienced writers might have a mental "hang up" about three or four things. Regardless, a "things to remember list" should be treated the same way as a "to do" list--it's personal.

Every writer has his or her own mental block. I tend to develop bad habits. Recently I was putting commas in for no reason at all. I've gone through the same thing with the word "the." About a year ago, I delete numerous unnecessary "the's." During proofing, I'd see a comma or a the I'd thrown into a sentence that I could not believe I'd thrown in. I sent myself back to the comma rules chapter to re-familiarize myself with something I learned over 25 years ago. The "the" caper made me a total believer of reading everything I write aloud. That's the tried and true way to making writing more concise.

Then I had to mull over whether I was losing my mind, or simply writing so fast, I was not thinking critically about punctuation and the use of articles.
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