Y Bova?

Penguin throwing wing up in a shrug I mean, language is always eovlving, write? The way we Comunic8 is changing, and been *correct” only matters to stuffy grammar nerds and English teachers, no wot I meen? Jus say wat you gotta say and iGnore the h8rs, who R like sad and boring loosers NEwai.

If you are fluent in English, you could probably make sense of that opening paragraph. But was it easy? Did you have to work on it to get the meaning?

When we communicate with each other, we share a lot more than words. In speech we have tone of voice, speed, and volume to help out with our meaning; in writing we have spelling, punctuation, and layout. And then there’s word-choice, grammar, and all sorts of other things that we use to suit our communication style to the occasion.

Of course, we don’t have to write perfectly all the time – just like we don’t have to speak perfectly all the time. Letters and emails to friends and family will normally be pretty casual, and no-one’s going to care about the occasional spelling mistake or punctuation error (unless it changes the meaning of the sentence, but more on that another time). It’s a bad idea to get so hung up on The Rules that you can’t so much as write a shopping list for yourself without reaching for the dictionary. In everyday life, so long as the meaning is clear, it’s all good. But there are times when good writing is essential.

Go back and look at that first paragraph again. Now imagine it was part of a letter to a magazine, asking them to publish an article I’d written for them. How far do you think the editor would get before throwing the whole thing in the bin? What if I wrote like that on a job application? Or in a letter to my bank, asking for a loan?

When we talk face-to-face, we make judgements about each other. Leaving aside prejudices about age, race, accent, etc, there are several things we take in at a glance, such as body language, facial expression, style of clothing, and cleanliness. If the occasion calls for a smart appearance, you are unlikely to be impressed by someone who shows up looking scruffy, slouched, scowling, and smelly. It’s the same with writing.

If someone uses bad writing in a formal situation, they are telling you one of three things:

(a) they don’t think that this is a formal situation,
(b) they don’t know how to write well,
(c) they can’t be bothered to check their work, and they expect you to fix their mistakes for them,
or (d) all of the above.

And all this before you’ve read most of the message! First impressions in writing can make or break the reader’s willingness to listen.

In future posts, I’ll be covering various aspects of writing better English – especially commonly confused words and phrases. If you have an idea for a ‘Better English’ topic, please leave a comment.

If you want help with a particular piece of writing, then why not request a quote?

Revised Plans: Penna Scriptum to Launch in January

So, it turns out that when you have a plan, and then add in a second plan, things get a bit… disorganised.

Since there’s no real hurry to start this business, and I don’t have many clients yet, I’ve decided to take my time. I can do a fast turn-around when it’s needed, but in general I prefer good to fast.

Penna Scriptum will be officially open to new clients on the 15th of January at 9 a.m. Meanwhile, I thank you for your patience. See you in the new year.


In Other News…

It’s Saturday, and that means a blog post. It’s also November, and that means NaNoWriMo. It’s the first Saturday in November, so it must be Double-Up Donation Day.

What is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It was started in 1999 by a group of friends who decided to get together and write their novels in a month. The story of how that idea grew to become the international giant of today is very well told here, and is a pretty inspiring read in its own right.

There are also plenty of encouraging ‘pep talks’ donated each year by successful writers, on everything from character creation to what to do when your plot springs a leak. These are available on the forums, as well as being delivered to members’ inboxes each week.

Then, of course, there is the community. The forums showcase an amazing and diverse range of writers, from first-timers to old hands, and there is almost certainly going to be a thread that makes you want to say ‘I’ve found my people’. The forums are moderated, and the moderators are all active members of the community who are taking part in the challenge themselves.

What is Double-Up Donation Day?

Double-Up Donation Day is a big push for words and funds, aided by extra donor gifts, virtual write-ins and lots of forum activity.

If you are doing NaNoWriMo this year (or even if you’re not) consider taking a look at the special events planned for today. The fun starts at 0600, and goes on until 2100 (all times GMT-7). So no matter where in the world you are, you should be able to catch at least some of the action.

Why Should I Care?

National Novel Writing Month sponsors literary programs for children and adults all over the world. NaNoWriMo is their most well-known annual event, but there is also Camp NaNoWriMo, the Young Writers’ Program, and the Come Write In program to encourage literacy, creativity, and confidence throughout the year.

Excuse the Mess

Please be patient while I switch website providers. I’m taking the opportunity to redesign the site, now that I have access to a WordPress website.

Here’s the schedule as things stand:

  • 26-28th October: The hand-over. Transfer the domain name. Save information from old website.
  • 30th October – 11th November: Design the structure of the new site. Create placeholder pages and posts.
  • 13th – 25th November: Write and/or rework copy for the pages of the site.
  • 27th November – 9th December: Add images, refine layout, check links.
  • 11th – 15th December: Link social media to website. Check everything works. Fix problems.
  • 17th December: Launch.

This isn’t going to be a very exciting place for the next couple of months, unless you find template pages and placeholder text exciting (hey, each to their own). If you want to be among the first to know about developments, then sign up to the Penna Scriptum Newsletter using the form below.

See you in December.