Nuthin’ ruins OK writing like the Its vs. It’s Ick.

The devil IS in the details. And nothing ruins writing like misspellings, entirely wrong words, wrong punctuation and other sundry assaults on language.

I qualify that statement. Nothing ruins okay/competent writing like misspellings. Good writing is a whole other level with a wholly different set of standards than okay writing. Good writing is rare. I mean rare. Every day I read pieces by alleged writers. Good writers who are self-proclaimed and/or perceived as such by their readers. Puke. Please. If that’s writing, then I dare to call myself an artist with my stick figures!

That’s a whole other topic though. Suffice it to say that self-proclaimed writers and their works are everywhere. They’re online, in the bookstores, the libraries, at self-publishing sites, the list is long.

Back to competent writing and the details that ruin it. It’s the Its vs. It’s Ick.

First, if you don’t know the difference between its and it’s, you have no business calling yourself a writer. If you pen they’re instead of their and sentences like everyone said their prayers, you’ve no fair claim to the good-writer title. (Or good editor — still another post.)

Don’t know what’s wrong with everyone said their prayers? Pronoun-antecedent is wrong. Everyone is singular and their is plural. Correct is: Everyone said his/her prayers (if everyone = males & females). If it’s a room of only men or only women, then it’s everyone said his prayers and everyone said her prayers, respectively.

The devil is in the details — and the Ick Factor’s in Its vs. It’s.

I read around. Tremendous is the joy, for me, of a blogpost that is well written. Well composed, with every detail and fine point of language in spelling, grammar and content receiving attention. But I emphasize. That’s good writing and good writing is exceptional and rare.

In the vast and endless sea of ubiquitous crap, even a post of competent writing (iterating the distinction between competent and quality) is a refreshing find.

Until I stumble into the assaults on the basics — the 4th-grade stuff I call it.  The poster’s written it’s instead of its  … lay instead of lieeffect instead of affect … between him and I instead of between him and me {between always takes object form}. Okay, I acknowledge that last one is widely and grossly misused by even professional writers and editors (again, alleged).

A competent writer can lose me on sloppiness.

Sloppiness = when the 4th-grade stuff is left unattended, when the most obvious that it’s too and not two is forsaken … out of what? Laziness? Not caring about basic quality or accuracy? What is it that allows an otherwise reasonably competent poster to drop the ball like that? A ball containing not the finer and higher elements of language but the easiest and most fundamental.

The Its vs. It’s Ick.

It’s everywhere. EV-ER-Y-WHERE. And particularly disheartening and telling when coming from the mouths of otherwise  moderately competent communicators.

Here’s the gist. A competent writer who tends to those 4th-grade basics, including spelling may remain a competent writer.

A competent writer who does not remains at best a competent one bordering on poor.

Details matter. Always in good writing. Always.

Details are just one of many elements separating good writing from average. In the field of good writing exclusively, where the bar’s set higher than in average writing, the details ARE what separates good writing from excellent. And so on up (or down) it goes along the musical scale that is writing.

Too, in okay/competent writing, details matter. In this arena, with its comparatively lower bar, the details rest merely in the basics of correct spelling, grammar, word use.

A competent writer who can’t hold the ball long enough to pen its instead of it’s or dye instead of die or lie instead of lay or they’re instead of their or lose instead of loose — that 4th-grade stuff — is sad. Sad because the fixes are so extremely simple, nee entirely avoidable. Simply tend to the basic nuts ‘n’ bolts.

Doing so produces a win-win. One, it shows you cared enough about language and your writing and your part in the creation to at least get the basics right. Two, it makes for pleasurable reading. Win-win for writer-reader.

That’s all I’ve got to say today on that topic. Its done. {<—- hahah, yes,  intentional 🙂 }






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