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Writing tip of the week

Writing Tip of the Week is a free service that emails a short writing tip that will help you express yourself in writing just that little bit better. A subscription form is at the end of the page.

Some examples:

Getting started

Writer and writing teacher Anne Lamott tells a story that can help us all with our writing.

Her brother was 10 years of age and “was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day... [H]e was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”


'Help' is a very useful word. If I help you solve a problem, fix a tap, write a report or plant a tree, that does not mean that you are helpless without me. Let’s not make it too complicated: don’t use aid, assist, facilitate when you simply need help.


How can such a simple thing as an apostrophe can be misplaced so much? My favourite examples of getting it wrong both ways sit next to each other on signs at the entrance to an arcade in Adelaide:

Blow — Its a hair thing
Café Delore’s

I often have the urge to scrape the apostrophe from Delores and place it in It’s.

Apostrophes aren’t that difficult. In the next few weeks I’ll give you the basics.

Which word? 14

distinct: separate, different, not identical (often constructed with ‘from’); unmistakable, decided
distinctive: distinguishing characteristic

Holiness is quite distinct from goodness.
She had the distinct impression she was being watched.
Colin wore a distinctive shirt with a colourful bird pattern.

Definitions from RW Burchfield, The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage 3rd edition


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