Since taking to the keyboard, I’ve found that basics I thought mastered at school have deserted me.
When did commas become so complicated?
I don’t have all the answers, but they’re out there somewhere. Here are some things to keep in mind while you’re looking for them.
Seek a second opinion – or three.
Some pundits lay down the law; others admit alternatives. For every warning about adverbs and cliches, another writer will encourage you to flout the rules.
The choice is yours… but you ought to know what the conventions are – and why – before you defy them.
Even where gurus agree, one article will speak to you more directly than the others. Maybe it offers more straighforward examples or invokes memorable images. We all have different ways of making sense of information.
It’s worth taking time to seek out different points of view.
Check the origin of your information.
Is the article written by a journalist, novelist, scriptwriter, copy-writer, editor or used car salesman? Whichever it is doesn’t make it less valid, but each may emphasise different aspects.
Be aware that UK English differs from American English in more than just spelling. American and British-based websites might disagree about style, punctuation, formatting, crochet patterns…
Your memory may not be as good as you think.
I may be convinced I’ll remember that handy tip for differentiating licence and license. But when I need it again, I guarantee I’ll have forgotten. So will you.
It’s easy to delete a redundant bookmark, or unsubscribe from a blog that has nothing else to say to you. It isn’t so easy to find that useful website six months later when Google has moved on.
Make a record of it. And make it consistent; you may find your computer harder to search than the internet.