Word Casualties #4

Our latest light-hearted look at typos and the definitions they’d have if they were real words. (actual words at the bottom)

Teehee fly – a pesky little laughing insect.

Arknowledge – the wisdom needed to build a deluge-escaping watercraft.

Desolatastness – The delicious feeling of being isolated.

Arthuretum – A piece of land on which many different Arthurs are grown.

Anfractcously – The measurement of the fractal space along the surface indentations of couscous.

Malaware – Software that is not only malicious, but dangerously self-conscious.

Fantsy – Used to describe the intricate scrollwork and special fonts used in Tolkien books.

Misfurtones – The dissonance that occurs while singing poorly about fur coats.

Delicktable – Something that looks good enough to be licked.

Tsetse fly, acknowledge, desolateness, arboretum, ???, malware, fantasy, misfortunes, and delectable.


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© Michael Wallevand, March 2020

Word Casualties #3

Don’t get mad at typos, laugh along with our made-up definitions!

See if you can guess the writers’ intended words!

anarchrist – A deity who fights for the violent overthrow of established governments.

illustratrated – I claim this one as my own. It’s a longer form of illustrating that involves having an illustration within an illustration (click to link to enjoy my embarrassment).

intarrowgate – A small village of Middle-Earth.

willowmaker – To turn one into a person of small stature for a fantasy movie.

batherobe – One could argue this is a garment for a bather. But that doesn’t make it a real word.

flappergasted – The act of being so surprised, one’s arms are waved up and down in rapid fashion.

Jessus – The name Mary and Joseph were going to use if they had a girl.

factuary – One who calculates insurance risks and provides true information.

flustery – When the wind gets agitated and gusts at high speeds.

alabastard – A pale, fatherless child.

Intended words: anarchist, illustrated, interrogate, widowmaker, bathrobe, flabbergasted, Jesus, factory(?), blustery, and alabaster.

Good luck with your wtiring!


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© Michael Wallevand, February 2020

Word Casualties #2

Another dose of misspelled medicine, mostly from text I’ve edited for others. The typo, followed by my made-up definition.

See if you can guess the writers’ intended words!

Trantula – A cross-dressing arachnid.

Midevil – I shouldn’t count this one because tons of people misspell it. It makes me laugh thinking about something mid-way between “a little evil” and “really evil”.

Whore-mungering – I’m not sure what it means to mung a whore. But let’s keep this blog PG-rated.

sirhan wrap – What they used to keep RFK’s assassin fresh.

garganchuwan – The biggest menu item at my favorite Chinese restaurant.

culted relationships – Developing bonds with others, then brainwashing them into drinking poisoned Kool Aid.

sucksessful – Really good at sucking.

volunteary – Crying while helping others.

Intended words: tarantula, medieval, whore-mongering, Saran Wrap, gargantuan, cultured relationships, successful, and voluntary.

Good luck with your wtiring!


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© Michael Wallevand, February 2020

Word Casualties #1

In my years of writing, copywriting, and freelance proofreading and editing, I’ve seen writing from people of varying skill. We all have one thing in common: misspelled words. Some are simple typos. Some are words we’re trying for the first time. And sometimes, our brains just say, “I know you’ve spelled that word a thousand times, but I’m going to turn off for a bit.

In this series of posts, I’ll be sharing the fun ones I’ve found, followed by my humorous definition of what the word might mean if it were real.

See if you can guess the writers’ intended words (in their defense, there are some tough words here). Enjoy!

Uncorrugable – Cardboard that’s impossible to use.

Hippochristy – Not following your own beliefs in the name of the Egyptian god, Taweret.

Hermitically – Thank goodness for those guys living alone, taking the time to ensure our containers are completely sealed.

Orangutang – Nothing like a tasty, orange-drink-flavored primate.

Happenstamps – Postage that’s there when you need it!

Diurbetic – Liquids go right through you AND you have issues with glucose.

Laminantable – Sad, yet able to be covered with a thin protective film.

Diety – A god of fasting.

Favrecate – Able to create a winning football team by the addition of a veteran quarterback.

Diurrea – It goes right through, just not along the normal route.

Constantnation – A country that never changes.

Envioble – People are likely to be jealous of its ability to remain untouched and free of violation.

Intended words: incorrigible, hypocrisy, hermetically, orangutan, happenstance, diabetic, lamentable, deity, fabricate, diarrhea, consternation, and enviable.

Good luck with your wtiring!


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© Michael Wallevand, February 2020

Tighten Up Your Writing #7

I recently wrote about removing the word “now” from my manuscript. It wasn’t the first such word I’d targeted, but since it proved to be a popular post, I decided to dedicate another to the subject.

Removing unnecessary words

In my final edit, I’ve targeted about a dozen common words and phrases for elimination or replacement. While it can feel like extra work, it improves the manuscript and sets me up for less work in the next. Here are two of the more fruitful tasks I took on.

Then

  • Unlike “now”, which is a strange choice for past-tense sentences, “then” is usually implied or simply unnecessary.
  • It’s a word that often feels critical (Tildy ran up the stairs and then slammed her bedroom door), but it’s not (Tildy ran up the stairs and slammed her door).
  • While reviewing 277 instances, I cut about 200 unnecessary words and was rewarded with tighter descriptions.

do or do not

Try to

  • Just gross and passive and weak. Again, it often feels necessary (Tildy stood on her toes and tried to see).
  • Channel your inner Yoda here: Your characters do or they do not. There is no try (Tildy stood on her toes to see). If she can’t see, well, describe that!
  • I cut the instances by half. However, the quantity is less relevant: I have 60+ stronger sentences. This is why you do the work.

I also targeted “passed”, “past”, and “know”, which fit into the category of word variety. I was a bit embarrassed to discover their overuse. Fortunately, replacing them wasn’t much work once I put a little extra thought into it.

C’mon, you’ve got a vocabulary – use it!

I’ve been a writer for 20 years and it’s always been an iterative process for me: Write the thoughts quickly, organize the story, and improve my word selection. Over time, my usage of some of these words has declined, which means less rework. When it comes to editing, I’d rather spend more time on shaping the story and less on swapping words.

We’re here to tell tales, after all. Good luck with your writing!

–Mike

Click for more posts: Tighten Up Your Writing

 


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© Michael Wallevand, August 2019

Tighten Up Your Writing #6

A 370-word post in which we realize that things in the past are not happening “now”.

Spaceballs now

Right after Christmas, I finished my mid-draft, which represents the complete book before I check for plot holes, inconsistencies, and other mechanical issues. It’s the first time I read the story straight through and it’s the first time I print out the manuscript to give it a thorough redlining.

I also use blue and green lines, and a yellow highlighter, so perhaps I need a new term.

It’s a time when you sit back and try to enjoy the story (I did!). This additional distance means you’re seeing things you couldn’t when you were nose deep in the writing (oh boy, did I!). I discovered my overuse of the word “now”, which is an odd writing choice when the verbs of the book are all past tense. If you’re not a grammar nerd, it’s the difference between “We walked now” and “We are walking now”.

After Control-F’ing the word (trying saying that in mixed company), I found far too many instances. I was using it as an unnecessary adverb, a way to transition into a new sentence, or as an awkward conjunction. Here’s a list of all the ways I used it. Continue reading

How a typo nearly cost me $3000 dollars

Here’s a delightful tale about my adventures in taxation last year. It’s about 450 words and a quick read. As with any post I write about typos, I’m sure there’s at least one.

I love Turbo Tax. Our taxes are relatively simple and don’t require the services of an expert. Some might say these are famous last words, and last tax season, they nearly were.

After a relatively brief and painless session at the computer, our taxes were done. If you’re familiar with Turbo Tax, it helpfully displays the amount you owe the Feds and State at the top of the screen. If you’re lucky, the number is green and you get a refund! In the spot for State, however, there was a red number. A BIG red number, one that was far larger than it should have been.

cursing-squirrelComparing my results to the previous year, there was a $3,000 discrepancy. And it wasn’t in our favor.

I went back through every single page of my new returns. And again. And again. And again.

The numbers were right. As God as my witness, they were right!

Continue reading