It seems as though the new search engine optimization (SEO) aspect to freelance writing is two-fold: The whole concept of SEO has created many more jobs for writers, yet it has created a lot of new and different work for a writer that doesn’t always seem to fall under the “writing” category. For the latter reason, many freelance writers are not overly interested in learning SEO and would rather continue being an “old fashioned” freelance writer. After all, SEO can get complicated for someone new to the field. Although SEO is a thrill for some writers, many writers cannot help but ask themselves: Do I really need to understand SEO to be a writer?
Archives for March 2012
Can You Use “Though” to Begin a Sentence?
Though these are common words, questions crop up now and then about though, although, in spite of, and despite. One thing is for certain: these words are similar in meaning. The difference lies in the fact that they are different parts of speech.
Let’s take a look at though and although first. They are conjunctions and can be used interchangeably as such.
The government says the economy is improving, although people do not seem to feel it.
Replacing although with though does not change the meaning.
The government says the economy is improving, though people do not seem to feel it.
How about starting a sentence with these two words? You may have heard/read people stating adamantly that it is not correct to do that, but there really is no reason not to. We can give example after example to illustrate this, but this example from Merriam-Webster should be more than enough. ((Merriam-Webster))
Though they know the war is lost, they continue to fight. — Bruce Bliven †1977
Here’s a quick note about another function of though – it can also function as an adverb. In this case, though cannot be interchanged with although.
I have so much work to finish. I like it that way, though.
How about in spite of and despite? Where do they come into the picture? As I said earlier, they can be used in lieu of the other two words. The structure has to be different, however, since these words are prepositions and not conjunctions. As such, if you want to use in spite of or despite, a noun has to follow.
To end, here’s a quick guide.
though + clause
although + clause
despite + noun
in spite of + noun
Image via The Yuniversity
Eschewing the Exotic for the Quotidian
I like experiencing strange, new things. Not too new and too strange, mind you. I am not that adventurous, but I have found that new experiences almost always brings positive results.
When it comes to words, I also like learning new words and using them whenever possible, as naturally as possible. I do not know what you think about using new and uncommon words as often as you can, but I honestly would not be surprised if we share the same sentiment. I have to admit, that sometimes, I do have the propensity to choose words that may not be commonly used – if only because I like how the word sounds or looks.
Then I read an old blog post over at The New York Times. ((Words We Love Too Much)) The topic focused on the use of the “somewhat out-of-the-ordinary word” and how the practice can be perfect at times but how it can also make it appear as if the writer were trying too hard.
That made me think about how I choose my words. Some questions that came to mind:
- Do I follow a mental process when deciding on a particular word to use?
- Do I consciously pick the word that is less ordinary?
- Do I often check the dictionary or thesaurus to find a synonym if I can’t immediately think of the “perfect” word for the situation?
I have to admit that I have been chewing on these questions for the past hour or so, and except for the last question, I have no clear answer! I do know that I will not hesitate to look up a word when I am uncertain.
Going back to the NYT blog post, two words were put under the spotlight: eschew and quotidian.
Since I do not read the NYT all that much, I am in no position to judge whether they overuse those words or not. However, I think that I do understand why they would have leaned towards using those words often. Do you?
Then again, the author’s parting words on the topic got me thinking:
Now comes my standard “fancy word” disclaimer: I’m not suggesting a ban on “eschew,” “quotidian” or any other word. But let’s be judicious. And be aware that your striking word choice might seem less so if all your colleagues are using “quotidian” every day, too.
So what do you think? Should we eschew the exotic for the quotidian, or should we stick to how we do things at the moment? I have come to the conclusion that I will continue to choose words that I feel comfortable with (and that includes out-of-the-ordinary words that I like) and that will suit the particular audience I am writing for.
Oh, in case you’re wondering about the photo at the beginning of the post…Do you mind describing it using one sentence? Pay attention to how you choose your adjectives. 😉
Photo via calafellvalo
Quotation Marks and Other Punctuation Marks
The debate on how to use quotation marks has been raging for a very long time, probably just as long as any other grammar issue. Perhaps one of the main things that bother people is how quotation marks are used unnecessarily. There is another issue about quotation marks that often come up: how they are used in tandem with other punctuation marks.
Commas and periods
Commas and periods – we’ve all used them in our sentences. We know where to put them. But what if there are quotation marks? Where do we put the period or comma? Inside?
I had a sleepless night thanks to Susan Cain’s “Quiet.”
I had a sleepless night thanks to Susan Cain’s “Quiet”.
The chances are you’ll immediately say that the second option is incorrect. That is understandable. The American way of doing it is to place periods inside the quotation mark, as shown in the first example. In the UK and Canada, however, the second style is used.
If you think about it, the second style is more logical. The closing quotation mark should be closer to the word or phrase being quoted. I think it looks better as well! However, just because I think that way does not mean that a period in between a quoted word or phrase and a closing quotation mark is wrong!
Semicolons and colons
How about these two punctuation marks? In this case, it is easier to remember what to do: these two punctuation marks are placed outside the quotation marks. Here’s a simple example.
I love “Quiet”; however, I still prefer to read fantasy books most of the time.
Question marks and punctuation marks
These two punctuation marks used together with quotation marks can trip one up very easily. Here’s a very useful idea to help you remember:
Place a question mark or exclamation point within closing quotation marks if the punctuation applies to the quotation itself. Place the punctuation outside the closing quotation marks if the punctuation applies to the whole sentence. ((Source: OWL))
Image via Knithacker
My Writing Spot Giveaway
Thank you again to those of you who participated in the previous giveaway, and for those who wanted the iPad app, here’s another chance. This time, we are giving away codes for a useful writing tool for the iPad and the iPhone: My Writing Spot.
My Writing Spot is a simple yet effective tool for writers who are always on the go. It provides you with uncluttered writing space on your phone or tablet. Whether you are writing a novel, a blog post, or a personal journal entry, My Writing Spot may very well become your constant writing companion.
Here are some of the features of the app:
- Word and Character Count
- Dictionary/Thesaurus lookup
- Supports TextExpander touch snippet expansion
- Change writing font/font size
- Write fullscreen with the iPad in any orientation
- Supports an enhanced on-screen keyboard or an external bluetooth keyboard
- Supports iOS 4.2 multi-tasking and printing via AirPrint
- Sync easily with the free My Writing Spot web app so you can have the latest version of your docs with you all the time
Thanks to Peter de Tagyos, the brains behind the app, we are giving away TWO CODES EACH for the iPad and the iPhone/iPod Touch. Just like with our previous giveaway, you simply have to tweet and leave a comment below linking to your tweet. For those who do not have a Twitter account, the alternative would be to post the “message” on Facebook. Here’s how it goes.
Step 1: Copy & paste the following, and then tweet it (or post it on Facebook):
I want to write simply anywhere with My Writing Spot. Win the app from @FreelanceWJ! Enter here: http://spla.us/ylZbvw #contests
Step 2: Leave us a comment on this page to let us know you tweeted or posted in Facebook, and paste the link to your tweet/Facebook post in your comment. (Note that our comments are moderated, so your comment may not show up immediately after you click the “Post Comment” button.)
FOUR winners will be selected at random from the commenters on or around 10:00 pm EST on Friday, March 16. Winners will be notified via Twitter/Facebook, after which we’ll send the code through a private message.
Important: You can enter the contest once per day between now and the 16th.
Has Technical Writing Stifled Your Creative Side?
It is no secret that technical writing jobs pay well. Many freelance writers slowly slip into the technical writing sphere and get stuck. The jobs are plenty and the pay is good, and as a writer this stability is appealing. Other freelance jobs that seem to pay well are those connected with a specific company. For example, I used to write for a credit card website, so naturally my writing was centered on credit card tips and advice. There used to be a time when I would try and play around with my sentence structures and get fancy with metaphors, but the longer I wrote a certain way the less and less I felt the need to be creative.
Build Your Arsenal to Better Promote Your Freelance Writing
Man, it just isn’t easy to be a freelance writer sometimes. Sure, you have the ability to set your own hours and rates. You can work from literally anywhere with an Internet connection and you are your own boss. Plus, if you ever need to take time away you can do so. All in all, it is a good career choice, but it still has its difficulties. [Read more…]