creative writing

To Be, or Not to Bee?

By Jennifer Kuenzer, TrizCom PR

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I am a staunch proponent of the Oxford comma. I am rabid about the proper use of their/ there/ they’re; too/ to/ two; and you’re/ your. I bristle when I see “at” at the end of a sentence. But I do not call myself a “grammar queen” or some other variant – because I work for a company that employs a terrific editor (Hi, Allison!) who looks at my work and tells me where I have made errors according to the AP Style Guide, the resource used by the national media, as well as more general grammatical errors I incurred.

Even without being a grammar queen, I have always felt using proper language and grammar is important. I read Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss when it came out in 2003 and applauded almost every page. But I am not grammar or punctuation-perfect and still find myself mixed up on occasion. So many rules! I often turn to grammar websites. There are many, and while they do serve similar purposes, they communicate in different tones. I thought I’d highlight a few of my favorites. Each of the following sites has something about them that sets them apart from the others. But all have the same goal in mind – making you a better writer. Because whether you are writing a casual blog or putting together a formal proposal for a client, grammar counts.

The New Yorker: Comma Queen

The New Yorker’s Mary Norris hosts a series of short videos, clearly titled and cleverly presented, on everything from when to use affect vs. effect to pronouns for your pets. For any professional who finds themselves stuck on a rule they forgot or never quite learned in the first place, Comma Queen is a great and entertaining way to refresh your knowledge base.

Grammar Girl

This award-winning site is incredibly accessible. You can find it on all the social media sites. You can subscribe to the RSS feed or the podcast. You can even download the Grammar Girl app on your phone. Mignon Fogarty is the magazine writer, technical writer and entrepreneur behind Grammar Girl. Her lessons are short, easy to recall, easily put into practice and aimed at making you a better writer.

Oxford Dictionaries

The Oxford Dictionaries website has an uncluttered, easy to navigate grammar section. It’s all there and right at your fingertips: grammatical terms, proper grammar explanations and handy grammar tips. Coupled with the dictionary and a synonym finder, it’s an invaluable one-stop resource.

Grammarly

Another award winner, Grammarly is a grammar platform that can check your documents in real time, offering not only corrections to spelling and grammar, but also word choice and style mistakes. There is also a plagiarism checker that compares your uploaded texts against over 8 billion documents. It’s no replacement for an editor (nothing is), but it is a solid tool that will help you improve your writing.

Edited by Allison, who deleted the Oxford commas according to the AP Style Guide. Sigh.

Reaching New Heights

By Maelyn Schramm, TrizCom PR Intern

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I love to rock climb. I started climbing in high school. I wasn’t very good, but I did it for the thrill. I didn’t even understand how routes worked: that certain rocks were “on” – allowed to be used – and others were off. But I did it anyway.

In college, I began to get the hang of it. I learned the different levels of routes. I started to understand special skills, techniques and verbiage like “jugs” – holds with excellent grip – and “smear” – dragging your foot along the wall.

Post-college, I’ve climbed regularly for over a month straight now. I went all in and purchased a membership just a few days ago. Now I can climb whenever I want at an all-inclusive price per month. I’ve already seen great improvement and have been able to bump up to higher levels in routes. It makes me feel accomplished and confident.

Perhaps what I love most about climbing is the thought process, the strategy that goes into reaching the top. First, I analyze the wall. I assess the hand and foot holds, and what order I should go in. Second, I think about how I need to twist my body, stretch my arms, point my toes. Lastly, I dive in. I attack the wall, muster up strength, ignore my weakening muscles. I keep my eyes on the prize: the last hold, the very top. I sweat and grunt and even whimper. But the satisfaction of reaching the top is always worth it.

The way I climb translates into the way I write. First, I analyze the assignment. I assess the theme and voice I should use, and the paragraphs’ flow. Second, I think about my choice of words, the rhetorical devices I should incorporate into my article. Lastly, I dive in. I attack my writing, muster up knowledge, ignore feelings of insufficiency. I keep my eyes on the prize: finishing the very last sentence, receiving an OK from my superiors. I pause and furrow my brows and bite my lip. But the praise from my superiors is always worth it.