Writing Tips

Writing Tip: Overloading While

Have you visited Daily Writing Tips online? I love it. It’s a great place to find information on grammar, style and other punctuation issues that writers may have questions about.

~Today I received an email from DWT’s discussing the over-usage of the word while. I’ll be the first to admit I use that word a lot. It’s one of my favorite go-to words, which isn’t always a good thing. Here’s what Daily Writing Tips had to say about the word while. ~

Because English is blessed with so many subordinating conjunctions, there’s no need to overuse any of them. The conjunction while, for example, tends to pop up in contexts in which a different conjunction may be the better choice.

The first and most obvious use of while is as a temporal conjunction to introduce a clause that has something to do with time:

While I was sleeping, the cat ate the canary. (Here while means “during the time that.”)

While is used to introduce clauses that express opposition:

While she was quite attractive, she believed that she was ugly. (Here while means “despite the fact that.”)

While is also used to introduce a clause that provides a contrast:

Mary dressed in princess clothing, while her brother dressed in cowboy costume.

It is this use of while that leads to ambiguity.

Does the while clause express contrast, or does it express time?

The sentence could be interpreted to mean that Mary dressed as a princess during the time that her brother dressed as a cowboy. If contrast is intended, the conjunction whereas would make the meaning clearer.

Sometimes while is used as if it were a coordinating conjunction like and, as in this description of a motorcycle:

New, soft palm grips provide nice comfort, while broad mirrors are neatly placed for clear rear vision.

Here are some “adversative” conjunctions that you may wish to substitute for while when appropriate:

even though

Here are some additional temporal conjunctions to use when while is not quite what you want:

as soon as
as long as
by the time

~There you have it. While, while is a great word to use as a crutch word, there are more words we can use to switch things up every once in a while. 🙂

For more advice and information on grammar and writing stop by:

Writing Tips

Affect vs. Effect

Have you visited Daily Writing Tips online? I love it. It’s a great place to find information on grammar, style and other punctuation issues that writers may have questions about. For instance, below is a link to a post on Affect vs. Effect – two very different however very similar words. If you’ve had problems figuring out which to use you should check out this link.



The various senses of affect, each followed by a sentence demonstrating them, follow:

A noun meaning “mental state”: “In his report, the psychiatrist, noting his lack of expression or other signs of emotion, described his affect as flat.”

A verb meaning “to produce an effect, to influence”: “I knew that my opinion would affect her choice, so I deliberately withheld it.”


The various senses of effect, each followed by a sentence demonstrating them, follow:

A noun meaning “the result of a cause”: “The effect of the lopsided vote was a loss of confidence in the chairman.”

A noun meaning “an impression”: “The soft, gentle tone has a calming effect.”

A noun, usually in plural form, meaning “personal property, possession”: “Among the effects found in the deceased man’s pockets was a small book with his name self-inscribed.”

Writing Tips

Writing tip ~ Double negatives are a no no.

Two Negatives in English destroy one another, or are equivalent to an Affirmative.

Never use not in the same sentence as the following:

no one

Here are some examples of sentences that rarely cause confusion in nonstandard dialects, but which are incorrect in standard English:

Note: the asterisk indicates that the sentence is nonstandard.

*She was so weak she couldn’t hardly sit up.
*Scarcely nobody came to my party.
*I can’t stay only a few minutes.
*I didn’t know neither her telephone number nor her address.
*I never saw no one I thought prettier.
*I don’t know nothing about building a compost pile.
*We don’t need no education
*I don’t want none of those escargots.

Here are the same thoughts expressed in standard English:

She was so weak she could hardly sit up.
Scarcely anybody came to my party.
I can stay only a few minutes.
I knew neither her telephone number nor her address.
I never saw anyone I thought prettier.
I don’t know anything about building a compost pile.
We don’t need an education
I don’t want any of those escargots.

Note: Not all double negatives in English earn an F from grammarians. The “not un-” construction popular in the 17th century is still acceptable in standard English. For example, here’s a comment from a travel article: “the flavor was unusual, but not unappealing.” Both not and unappealing are negatives. The idea is that the flavor is too strange to actually be “appealing,” but is nevertheless palatable. To state the thought otherwise would alter the writer’s intended meaning.

~~Want more tips like this? Visit http://www.dailywritingtips.com and sign up to receive daily emails.~~~~

Writing Tips

Adding meaning to your words!

Check out Wild Rose Press Publishing. They are currently accepting submissions and they have alot of writing tips on their website. Also, don’t forget to like their facebook page. Below is a link I found on their website. It’s about sentence structure and adding meaning to your words.

Hope this helps someone,
xoxo Siren.

Self-Editing: Carving Into Your Masterpiece

Carving Into Your Masterpiece

by Layla Chase©

At holiday meals, have you ever noticed the fuss about who gets the honor of carving the turkey or goose? Expertise is involved and most usually profess not wanting to be in charge of the meal’s centerpiece. Don’t we all suspect the carver secretly enjoys the attention and resulting accolades? We as writers are the masters or mistresses of our creative masterpieces-our manuscripts. So, let’s all grab a sharp knife and dig in.

Let’s work on word editing and rearranging sentences to elicit the maximum effect.

Gerunds-cut to the real meat of the sentence when describing a character’s movements

EX: Running into the house, she dialed John’s number on her cell phone. (Ouch-shouldn’t she dial 911. My first impression was the character literally hitting the outside wall.)

EX: Opening the door, he flipped on the light and drew his gun. (Almost sounds like the character has 3 hands, which is okay if this is science fiction and he’s an alien.)

Cause & effect-Slice into the middle of the sentence to retrieve the event that initiates a reaction.

EX: The sound increased when James swung open the door to his house.(effect before cause)

EX: When James opened the front door, the sound of the lawnmower intensified.(cause then effect)

Power words-save those luscious words for the end where they give the most flavor

EX: The night was noisy, then Caleb felt the danger all around him. (telling and vague)

EX: The croaking frogs and whirring cicadas quieted, the hairs on his arms prickled, then Caleb sensed danger. (specific details and ends with power word)

EX: The mangled corpse was covered with blood from head to toe.(passive)

EX: Every square inch of the mangled corpse dripped with blood. (pumped verb, power word at end)

EX: Blood dripped from every square inch of the mangled corpse. (another power word)

Overuse of adverbs-think of them as a spice that should be sprinkled, not shaken. Use of words ending in -ly often indicates a weak verb needs to be boosted.

EX: Maddie walked smartly across the room.

EX: Maddie strode across the room.

EX: Mr. Jensen talked softly to his wife about the movie.

EX: Mr. Jensen whispered to his wife about the movie.

With the inclusion of these tips in your self-editing process, you’ll have your manuscript lean and mean in no time. Happy carving!

(reprinted with permission from http://www.rosescoloredglasses.com)

Writing Tips

I Like to use the word Like so much that it’s Like crazy! :)

http://dailywritingtips.com – If you have not subscribed to receive their daily newsletter you should; it’s like totally awesome! LOL.

Today’s email I received from DWT was about over usage of the word Like. I am guilty of this crime. DWT provides a few suggestions to keep us away from using like in every other sentence we say or write.

Hope this helps someone,
xoxo Siren

“Like” Serves Nouns and Pronouns, Not Verbs

Like is associated with various uncouth usages — “They were, like, all over the place”; “I was, like, ‘Really?’” — common in speech but easily avoided (except for comic effect) in writing, but many people are unaware that another widespread usage is considered improper in formal writing.

As a preposition meaning “similar to,” like is associated with nouns (“She entered the room like an empress”) and pronouns (“I don’t know anyone like him”). However, when the word connects one clause (a segment of a sentence that includes a subject and a verb) to another, it impersonates a conjunction: “He started dancing like his pants were on fire”; “I arranged the furniture like it had appeared before.”

Note, though, that this usage, though ubiquitous in conversation and in informal writing, is not considered acceptable in formal writing; like should be replaced, respectively, by “as if” (He started dancing as if his pants were on fire”) or as: (“I arranged the furniture as it had appeared before”). Replacing as with “the way” is also acceptable: “I arranged the furniture the way it had appeared before.”

(But beware of hypercorrection; as is erroneous when, with the same intent, it precedes a noun: “She entered the room as an empress” means that the subject literally became, rather than merely resembled, royalty. But “She entered the room as an empress would” is correct, because the emphasis is then on the subject’s action, not on the type of person the subject is compared to.)

In the case of a sentence such as “Like many first-time visitors do, I stared, dumbstruck, at the vista before me,” either change like to as (“As many first-time visitors do, I stared, dumbstruck, at the vista before me”) or delete the verb at the end of the introductory phrase (“Like many first-time visitors, I stared, dumbstruck, at the vista before me”).

Writing Tips

Sharing my Work! :) :(

I will begin by saying that I am extremely nervous when it comes to allowing my family and friends to read the stories I write. But, this week I decided to go ahead and let a co-worker read my story Christmas Confusion.


Okay I will stop yelling now. But I am glad that she liked it because I love it. It’s not an Erotica, which is what I usually write. It’s a New Adult and it’s very sweet and funny. I never thought I would like writing for that genre – but I enjoyed writing this story very much.

I so wish I could share a snippet of it with you but I don’t think that would be wise since it is currently in the publishers hands and they frown upon that. Fingers crossed, hoping they will enjoy reading it as much as my co-worker Shawn did. (She asked me to say her name, it makes her feel special, lol)

The point of this post is – Share! Share your story with people you can trust and who will give you an honest opinion. Shawn pointed out a few places in my story that confused her and a few run on sentences, (I am the worst when it comes to run on sentences.) But she helped me catch things that I missed, thanks Shawn.

Writing Tip: Share.

xoxo Siren

Writing Tips

Who vs. Whom!!!!!!!!

Does anyone other than me struggle with word usage? Sometimes I struggle with which word to use in certain situations; especially in the case of Who vs. Whom. Thankfully my friends over at dailywritingtips.com have the answer. Check out the email they sent me on the subject of when to use who or whom. Hope this helps someone, xoxo Siren.

How Do You Determine Whether to Use Who or Whom?

Posted: 18 Mar 2013 09:03 PM PDT

Even the boldest, most confident writers can cower in fear and sob with frustration when confronted with the problem of whether to use who or whom in a sentence. Heck, I know it confuses me.

Here’s the distinction: Use who to refer to the subject of the sentence (“I am the person who you are looking for”) and whom to refer to the object of the sentence (“Whom have you invited?”)

If you’re still unsure about which form to use in a sentence, try this test: Restate the sentence with a personal pronoun, or, if it is a question, answer the question with one word. If the personal pronoun in the restatement or response is he or she, who is correct. If it’s him or her, whom is correct.

Statement: “I have a friend who can help.”
Restatement: “He can help.” (Who is correct.)

Question: “Whom have you invited?”
Response: “Him.” (Whom is correct.)

Note, however, that sometimes you can avoid the problem of determining which form to use by omitting a relative pronoun altogether, and the result is often an improvement. For example, the sentence “I am the person who you are looking for” is better rendered as “I am the person you are looking for.”

Also, beware of these pitfalls: “They’ll complain to whoever [not whomever] will listen” is correct, because whoever is the subject of “will listen.” However, “Whomever [not whoever] you hire is fine with me” is correct because whomever is the object of hire.

Furthermore, use of whom in a sentence such as “It was Smith and Jones whom we had to contend with” is a hypercorrection. (“It was Smith and Jones who we had to contend with” is correct, though the sentence is better with the pronoun omitted: “It was Smith and Jones we had to contend with.”) Append a phrase containing the same pronoun to realize how awkward this form is. (“It was Smith and Jones whom we had to contend with, whom some among us feared.”)

These complications, and others, make traditional rules regarding use of whom problematic; when even experienced writers have to repeatedly pore through a grammar text to remind themselves about the details, the distinction has ceased to be practical. The fusty who/whom distinction is fading in conversational usage, and it is my fervent hope that the use of whom except in unambiguous “to whom” constructions will likewise atrophy.

I’ll let legendary language maven William Safire have the last word: Of this issue, he said, in effect, when the question of whether to use whom or who arises, revise the sentence so that you don’t have to puzzle over which form is correct.

Writing Tips

Positive Feedback!!

Happy Monday, fellow writers (published and unpublished).

You are probably thinking, ‘Siren, It’s Monday. Why are you in such a good mood?’

Well i’m in a great mood because I entered a writing contest a few weeks ago, the results are now in and guess what – I LOST. 🙂

Yep you heard me correcty, I lost, I didn’t even make it to the finals.

BUT: I did receive positive feedback from one of the editors and you know what? Her feedback has helped me alot. I see places in my story that need a lot of work and places that need to be strengthened. I didn’t lose the contest because i’m a bad writer, I lost because my story was weak. The plot wasn’t heavy enough. There wasn’t enough conflict to keep my damsel and hero apart and not enough romance to bring them together.

But I love the story line of my book and I believe it can become a great story, but it’s up to me to make it a great story!

So i’m going to take the editors advice and work on it, have others read it, work on it some more – then resubmit it.

The moral of the story is: Losing is not always bad. It’s what you do with the loss that makes it bad. I plan to use my loss as motivation and work harder and study the craft of writing more.

Remember – never give up.

Have a great day all!!
xoxo Siren

Writing Tips

When Comma’s Attack!!!!,,,

Hi all, today’s tip comes from my Daily Writing Tip emails that i receive from dailywritingtips.com. If you haven’t signed up to receive their tips you are truly missing out on some helpful information.

Today’s tip is in regards to comma usage. If you are like me, the more comma’s the better. However, our comma usage may not always be grammatically correct. Read the info below to see if you are using comma’s illegally, 🙂

5 Cases of Excessive Commas

Posted: 25 Feb 2013 08:24 PM PST

The rules about commas can seem so complicated — and contradictory — that writers can (almost) be forgiven for tossing in an extra one or two. Here are several examples of overly generous deployment of commas.

1. “If a killer asteroid was, indeed, incoming, a spacecraft could, in theory, be launched to nudge the asteroid out of Earth’s way, changing its speed and the point of intersection.”
This thirty-word sentence is littered with six commas — one for every five words — five of them appearing before the halfway point. By simply bending the rule about bracketing interjections with commas — a rule that advocates of open punctuation flout routinely anyway — the number is reduced by two, rendering the sentence more free flowing: “If a killer asteroid was indeed incoming, a spacecraft could, in theory, be launched to nudge the asteroid out of Earth’s way, changing its speed and the point of intersection.”

One more comma can be eliminated by relocating the parenthetical phrase “in theory” to an earlier position in the sentence, so that the comma after incoming does double duty: “If a killer asteroid was indeed incoming, in theory, a spacecraft could be launched to nudge the asteroid out of Earth’s way, changing its speed and the point of intersection.”

2. “The metaphor, ‘The world is a machine,’ began to replace the metaphor, ‘The world is a living organism.’”
In this sentence, the comma preceding each instance of metaphor implies that that metaphor is the only one — not just in the sentence, but anywhere. (But two metaphors are expressed here, and innumerable others exist.) Metaphor, appearing in apposition to the two brief quotations, should not be set off from them: “The metaphor ‘The world is a machine’ began to replace the metaphor ‘The world is a living organism.’”

3. “The event is part of a catchy, public health message about the importance of emergency preparedness.”
Catchy and “public health” are not coordinate adjectives. The point is not that the message is catchy and public health; it’s that the public health message is catchy. Therefore, no comma is necessary: “The event is part of a catchy public health message about the importance of emergency preparedness.”

If, by contrast, the sentence read, for example, “The event is part of a catchy, quirky message about the importance of emergency preparedness,” note that because catchy and quirky are parallel — they are coordinate adjectives — a comma should separate them.

4. “The report was completed in December, 2012.”
A comma is necessary between a month and a year only if a date is specified (“The report was completed on December 1, 2012”): “The report was completed in December 2012.” (The same rule applies when the name of a season appears in place of the name of a month: “The report was completed in fall 2012.”)

5. “Jones traveled by boxcar from California to New York with fellow fledgling artist, John Smith, sketching the American landscape along the way.”
Commas are necessary with this type of apposition only if the epithet is preceded by an article (“Jones traveled by boxcar from California to New York with a fellow fledgling artist, John Smith, sketching the American landscape along the way”): “Jones traveled by boxcar from California to New York with fellow fledgling artist John Smith sketching the American landscape along the way.” Unfortunately, this type of error has gone viral — its ubiquity is mistaken for propriety — and is seemingly ineradicable.

*****Very informative. Hope this helped someone. Happy writing!
xoxo Siren

Writing Tips

Writing tip – Contests: To enter or not to enter!?!?!

I recently entered a writing contest and lost. 😦 I came in sixth place out of about nine people. Yeah it sucked to lose, but it was and is a learning experience. I received feedback from the judges; their critique’s were very helpful. Todays writing tip is: Enter writing contest and challenges. It helps you grow as a writer. You learn what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. You may not win them all but even when you lose you gain experience as a writer. No great writer became that way the moment they put pencil to paper or hand to keyboard. They had to learn the craft and write, write, and write some more.

Hope this helps someone,
xoxo Siren