Category: Top Tips for Writers

When to use it’s and its

Dang. This made me smile. :) It’s not as amusing though when I see this in the work that I edit. This is one of the most annoying grammar mistakes ever.

Once and for all:

It’s – short for it is or it has
Its – shows possession like his or her

To expound:

Better yet, don’t write “it’s.” Write the full version. If you cannot use “it is” because the sentence does not make sense, then use “its.” :)


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25 common words that I got wrong (or how my bad grammar is so nauseous, it’s making me and the people around me nauseated)


Here’s a useful article from I learned so much from this.

My favorite is item #20: plethora.

What you think it means: A lot of something.
What it really means: More than is needed.

Plethora simply means that there is more of something than is needed. For instance, you may think that 5,000 people is a plethora of people. However, when you put them into a hockey arena that seats 13,000 people, it’s actually less than half capacity and therefore not a plethora. If you had 13,500 people in that same arena, that would be a plethora of people.

Read on and weep.

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Writing Tip: Keep those words flowing

From “The man who can’t stop writing” written by Ruel S. De Vera for the Philippine Daily Inquirer

The Write Stuff

Prolific and versatile wordsmith Ed Maranan on how to keep those ideas going and your words flowing

1. Be aware of, and be sensitive to, what is happening in your country and in the world. Read up on the themes and issues of our times: the environment and climate change, poverty and development, crime and conflict, politics and corruption, etc. This means reading the dailies, listening to the radio, watching the news and commentaries to stock up on materials for your writing.

2. Keep a journal or a diary that record your thoughts and ideas. Jot down notes, observations about life, impressions of places and people you meet, and reactions to day-to-day events. Again, they can become the source of future writing projects.

3. Read as often and as diversely as possible: literature and the arts, science and social science, articles and reviews. Less expensive is browsing the web for literature and history websites.

4. Write something every day, wherever you are. It could be a six-word, 55-word, 100-word short story (there are actually websites and competitions for these variant forms!), a short essay commenting on the issue of the day, or a short poem (a haiku or a tanaga). Re-read and revise what you have written. If you write in English, check out  manuals on writing good prose by Jose Carillo, Jose Dalisay, Cristina Hidalgo and other authors.

5. Do any or all of the following: join a writing workshop or a writers’ group, show your written work to friends, relatives or teachers and ask for their critique. Cross-register or audit in creative writing, literary history and theory classes, start a blog where your creative output can be read and judged by the public, participate in poetry readings and yes, you can put to the test what you’ve written by joining a literary competition: the Carlos Palanca, the Free Press and the Graphic, the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino, among many others.

Writing Tip: When in doubt, take it out

Writing Tips: 10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer

1. Write.
2. Write more.
3. Write even more.
4. Write even more than that.
5. Write when you don’t want to.
6. Write when you do.
7. Write when you have something to say.
8. Write when you don’t.
9. Write every day.
10. Keep writing.”

(Brian Clark, author of Whose Life Is It Anyway?)

Writing Tip: Use beautiful and ugly words

Mark Nichol  writes about 100 beautiful and ugly words at Daily Writing Tips.

He says these words enrich the poetry of prose by providing precise connotation while also evoking emotional responses.  “One of the many fascinating features of our language is how often words with pleasant associations are also quite pleasing on the tongue and even to the eye, and how many words, by contrast, acoustically and visually corroborate their disagreeable nature — look no further than the heading for this post.”

Beautiful Words

Amorphous: indefinite, shapeless
Beguile: deceive
Caprice: impulse
Cascade: steep waterfall
Cashmere: fine, delicate wool
Chrysalis: protective covering
Cinnamon: an aromatic spice; its soft brown color
Coalesce: unite, or fuse
Crepuscular: dim, or twilit
Crystalline: clear, or sparkling
Desultory: half-hearted, meandering
Diaphanous: gauzy
Dulcet: sweet
Ebullient: enthusiastic
Effervescent: bubbly
Elision: omission
Enchanted: charmed
Encompass: surround
Enrapture: delighted
Ephemeral: fleeting
Epiphany: revelation
Epitome: embodiment of the ideal
Ethereal: celestial, unworldly, immaterial
Etiquette: proper conduct
Evanescent: fleeting
Evocative: suggestive
Exuberant: abundant, unrestrained, outsize
Felicity: happiness, pleasantness
Filament: thread, strand
Halcyon: care-free
Idyllic: contentedly pleasing
Incorporeal: without form
Incandescent: glowing, radiant, brilliant, zealous
Ineffable: indescribable, unspeakable
Inexorable: relentless
Insouciance: nonchalance
Iridescent: luster
Languid: slow, listless
Lassitude: fatigue
Lilt: cheerful or buoyant song or movement
Lithe: flexible, graceful
Lullaby: soothing song
Luminescence: dim chemical or organic light
Mellifluous: smooth, sweet
Mist: cloudy moisture, or similar literal or virtual obstacle
Murmur: soothing sound
Myriad: great number
Nebulous: indistinct
Opulent: ostentatious
Penumbra: shade, shroud, fringe
Plethora: abundance
Quiescent: peaceful
Quintessential: most purely representative or typical
Radiant: glowing
Redolent: aromatic, evocative
Resonant: echoing, evocative
Resplendent: shining
Rhapsodic: intensely emotional
Sapphire: rich, deep bluish purple
Scintilla: trace
Serendipitous: chance
Serene: peaceful
Somnolent: drowsy, sleep inducing
Sonorous: loud, impressive, imposing
Spherical: ball-like, globular
Sublime: exalted, transcendent
Succulent: juicy, tasty, rich
Suffuse: flushed, full
Susurration: whispering
Symphony: harmonious assemblage
Talisman: charm, magical device
Tessellated: checkered in pattern
Tranquility: peacefulness
Vestige: trace
Zenith: highest point

Ugly Words

Cacophony: confused noise
Cataclysm: flood, catastrophe, upheaval
Chafe: irritate, abrade
Coarse: common, crude, rough, harsh
Cynical: distrustful, self-interested
Decrepit: worn-out, run-down
Disgust: aversion, distaste
Grimace: expression of disgust or pain
Grotesque: distorted, bizarre
Harangue: rant
Hirsute: hairy
Hoarse: harsh, grating
Leech: parasite,
Maladroit: clumsy
Mediocre: ordinary, of low quality
Obstreperous: noisy, unruly
Rancid: offensive, smelly
Repugnant: distasteful
Repulsive: disgusting
Shriek: sharp, screeching sound
Shrill: high-pitched sound
Shun: avoid, ostracize
Slaughter: butcher, carnage
Unctuous: smug, ingratiating
Visceral: crude, anatomically graphic

Writing Tip: Be brief.