Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Over the past few weeks I've read a lot of books.  I'm trying to complete the 35 finalist for the Whitney Awards.  I've also read a large number of books for my weekly review column on Meridian.  Along with reading paper books, e-reader books, and ARCs, I read a daily newspaper, a significant number of blogs, and more face book posts than I can begin to count.  With all of this reading, I've concluded that certain teachers during my elementary and high school years, must surely be mortified to see how little attention is given in today's literary world to words that sound the same, but don't have the same meaning or spelling.  Did today's authors and copy editors fail this portion of their spelling tests?  Or have they gotten lazy? 

Here's a list of words I found just in the past few weeks that made me shake my head:  Sadly most of these were in print, not on face book which is notorious for misspellings, typos, and poor grammar: 

site for cite

pour for pore

their for they're

roll for role

pays for pace

alter for altar

isle for aisle

pray for prey

principal for principle

patients for patience

wait for weight

raise for raze

pear for pare

right for rite 

It's easy to think one word and write another.  I'm as guilty as anyone of carelessness with face book posts, but I think authors and publishers need to make a greater effort to use the right word.  Words are the tools of a writer's trade and I believe good writers should constantly polish their tools, study language, increase their vocabulary, learn to spell, and stop over-trusting spell check. Few things stop the action faster in an exciting scene than the use of the wrong word, even if it sounds the same as the intended word.

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