Owl Editing

Owl Editing

Tips for writers

Posts filed under writing

The Tricky Order of Adjectives

If you’re confused about this, you’re not alone. J. R. R. Tolkien ran into this little-known quirk of English grammar when he first began writing: I first tried to write a story when I was about seven. It was about a dragon. . . . My mother said nothing about the dragon, but pointed out… (read more)

A City Flag for Victoria

A team of youthful, design-enthusiasts and vexillologists in Victoria and the surrounding area are determined to one day hold a city-wide, open, crowd-sourced flag competition in Victoria, BC. The city’s current flag does not follow good design and is unknown to most people, which is a tragedy. In the coming months, the team will be… (read more)

WRITING TIP: Capitalization of Names of Places

Capitalize names of places, such as streets, buildings, parks, mountains, countries, rivers, oceans, and lakes, if the exact name is used. For instance, in the name “the Empire State Building” the E, S, and B are capitalized because they begin the words of the name of the building. Observe that the “the” is not capitalized… (read more)

Effective Writing: Sort Out Your Ideas (3)

Sometimes ideas will sort themselves out logically, or could do so, if we would only let them. The discovery of the burning house in the example given earlier should arrange itself immediately into, At ten o’clock, immediately after Miss Jones had finished her solo, they found the house on fire. Surely the fact that the… (read more)

Effective Writing: Sort Out Your Ideas (2)

Nobody, we might suppose, would write a sentence as bad as, Miss Jones finished her solo at ten o’clock and immediately afterward they found the house on fire. Yet how much better is the following paragraph, written in a style with which most of us are all too familiar? The June meeting of the Groveton… (read more)

Effective Writing: Sort Out Your Ideas (1)

Subordination, the grouping of ideas into principal and subordinate clauses in a sentence, is much like the pictorial artist’s emphasis upon one element in his painting at the expense of all others; or like the photographer’s selective focus, by means of which he keeps a certain part of his picture in focus and deliberately allows… (read more)

Steps to Effective Writing (3)

Step 1. Write in Specifics – part 3 The view from the hill behind our town — is it beautiful? If a writer uses that overworked, vague term, he must at once tell specific things that support his use of the general adjective. A writer must never use a general term unless he follows it… (read more)

Steps to Effective Writing (2)

Step 1. Write in Specifics – part 2 The following selection from Joseph Conrad’s Typhoon is full of sharp, clearly defined terms. After explaining that the ship Nan-shan, on her way to Fu-chau, had two hundred Chinese coolies on board, Conrad goes on with: The foredeck, packed with Chinamen, was full of somber clothing, yellow… (read more)

Steps to Effective Writing (1)

Step 1. Write in Specifics – part 1 Writing in specific, concrete, definite terms is the most important single principle the student of effective writing can learn. General, abstract, and vague terms are deadly foes of effective writing. They rob writing of all its vitality; they give the reader the unpleasant sensation of having entered a schizoid world in… (read more)

Reducing bias in writing-5

Age should be reported as part of the description of participants in the Method section. Be specific in providing age ranges; avoid open-ended definitions such as “under 18 years” or “over 65 years.” Girl and boy are correct terms for referring to individuals under the age of 12 years. Young man and young woman and… (read more)