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Quick Editing Tip: Confusing Words

Words can be confusing. As writers, we never want that. 

It's not a good thing when your readers make this face: Wha?

Say whatcha need to say. 

And DON'T let the spell check be your guide.  It's not keen enough to discern subtle differences like these.

into vs. in to

onto vs. on to

apart vs. a part

Often, these words are tricksters, playing roles they were never meant to play. But those who know words well can recognize the impostor.  

Both "into" and "onto" imply movement toward an object. 

Those who stroll into the T.A.R.D.I.S. are stymied by the fact that it's bigger on the inside than the outside. 

The Doctor jumped onto the megalith as he warned the insanely diverse alliance of enemy aliens.

See? Movement toward the T.A.R.D.I.S. or the megalith is implied. There's a difference in these sentences. While there might still be movement, rather than being toward an object, it's usually for some reason or result. That, or the "to" is part of an infinitive.

Everyone was snowed in to their delight (or to their frustration, as the case may be).

We're not snowed into our delight. That would be odd. 

The runners pressed on to finish the race.

They didn't press onto the finish. They pressed on in order to finish. Unless you're dealing with stickers or fake nails, you're probably not going to be pressing onto anything. Think about the whole sentence. What are you truly trying to say?

Another quicky:   

Ginny blinked, trying to regain her composure. "It's just, I can't stand to be apart. You're always gone so long."  

Ginny blinked. Was he serious? "Not a chance. I can't stand to be a part of something so useless. I don't have much spare time as it is."

You'll find that there are several other words that play this trick on tired minds, and Spell check will fail you most of the time. Across, away, amid...Not only that, but who has the wherewithal or time to waste doing a Find and Replace on "a"? 

Not a soul. Not a soul.

It's best if you cement this little lesson into your mind and remember it as you type. Look for it as you revise. Watch for it in anything you read. Double-check your Facebook status before you hit Enter.

Learn to be bothered by it just enough that it doesn't creep into your writing. 

Then, you can go on to pour your words onto the page without the worry.   

By the way, thanks for not giving up on us while we were down. It's a good thing to finally be able to sit in a chair without wincing. 

And it'll be good to go on from here. 

Thanks for swinging by,
               Photo credit: snigl3t

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