I realised acronyms had crept into my normal life a couple of weeks ago when I told my children – FYI, guys, it’s my birthday on Saturday. (It didn’t work. Only one out of 6 kids gave me a present).
One of the things we writers take for granted after a while is the use of acronyms. We have our Crit Group (not exactly an acronym). We have our fave authors (again not exactly an acronym). There are Panters and Plotters (try saying that to a non writer). You don’t realise how much of your conversation is spoken in short-hand until you meet someone who’s a Newbie.
Sorry, new writer.
Here Roy Peter Clark asks, are writers using too many acronyms? And here’s Jessica Shaw’s list of acronyms used by writers. So if you find people are going on about the PoV in their WIP, you’ll know what they’re talking about.
Then there’s numbers. When do you use the word ‘one’ and when do you use the number ’5′? Here at GrammarBook they answer that curly question.
Over at TV Tropes they talk about using capital letters in fantasy and science fiction. This may sound like a bit of a no brainer, but with my last trilogy my editors and I had to come up with a ‘word bible’ for the world’s invented words and when to use capitals or lower case. Think about it – a ship’s captain – when do you use a capital? When it’s Captain Ahab, it is easy. But what about when you are talking about him and it is the Captain?
And then there’s those words that people get wrong. Advise and Advice I can figure out. Affect and Effect I think I have right now. One word I often come across in printed books that jumps out at me is ‘lay’.
Since we are writers, we might as well get the basics correct. Once we know what we’re doing, we can play with words.
In my job as a lecturer I come across some unintentionally hilarious word usage, when people have simply accept the spelling suggestion made my their computer. I have a thing about apostrophes being used in the right place. Students feel this is optional and sometimes will throw in apostrophes in the mistaken belief that more is better than less. Then there is the dreaded – they’re, their and there. And I come across this mistake ‘alot’ Hyperbole and a Half made me smile.
(There is a law that says if you do a blog post about grammar and word usage you are sure to make a mistake somewhere in it).
What are the little mistakes that are invisible to you in your own writing? What are the mistakes in printed books the make you grit your teeth?