Author Advice, Blog Post, Cheat Sheet, Grammar Assistant

Removing these two words from your writing will make it stronger and more concise! #Strong #Verbs #CreatingPerfection #GrammarAssistant #Author #AmWriting #AmEditing

Today’s article is short and sweet.

There are few words in the English language I dislike but I must admit very and really are two I could happily live without.

Using these words before certain verbs can make your writing appear weak and lazy and using two words instead of one can damage your precious word count – so cut them out.

I’ve created a list of the most common examples I find in my work and have put them into a printable download with my suggested stronger verb alternative.

Strong Verbs

I hope this helps and happy writing!

Author Advice, Editing Assistance, Grammar Assistant, Punctuation

#GrammarAssistant #comparative and #superlative forms #AuthorAdvice #Grammar #CreatingPerfection

In today’s article I’m going to talk about comparative and superlative forms.

We use the comparative and superlative forms of adverbs and adjectives to compare people, things, states, and actions in writing.

Adjectives and adverbs have three forms: the positive, the comparative, and the superlative.


Positive Comparative Superlative
Green Greener Greenest
Tall Taller Tallest
Joyful More joyful Most joyful


Positive Comparative Superlative
Fast Faster Fastest
Joyfully More joyfully Most joyfully
Far Further Furthest

Comparative form

The comparative form is used to compare one person, thing, action, or state to another:

Daisies are prettier than roses.

My sister is taller than me.

Our house is noisier than the library.

Superlative form

The superlative form is used to compare one thing to ALL the others in the same category:

This road is the quietest.

My bag is the heaviest.

My rose is the prettiest.

The comparative and superlative are formed differently depending on the word’s positive form:

  • Usually we add the suffixes -er and -est: warm / warmer / warmest
  • When the adjective ends in -e we drop it and add -er and -est: large / larger / largest
  • When the adjective ends in one consonant, double it before adding -er and -est: red / redder / reddest
  • When the adjective ends in -y change it to –i and add -er and -est: juicy / juicier / juiciest
  • If an adverb ends in -ly usually add the words more (comparative form) and most (superlative form): slow / more slowly / most slowly; lazily / most lazily / most lazily
  • Some adjectives use more for the comparative form and most for the superlative: famous / more famous / most famous
  • Some comparative and superlative forms of adjectives and adverbs are irregular: bad / worse / worst; much / more / most; well / better / best

Rules for forming comparatives 

  • One-syllable words form the comparative by adding -er and -est: brave / braver / bravest; small / smaller / smallest; dark / darker / darkest
  • Two-syllable words that end in -y, -le, and -er form the comparative by adding -er and -est: pretty / prettier / prettiest; happy / happier / happiest; noble / nobler / noblest; clever / cleverer / cleverest
  • Words of more than two syllables form the comparative with more and most: beautiful / more beautiful / most beautiful; resonant / more resonant / most resonant
  • Past participles used as adjectives form the comparative with more and most: crooked / broken / damaged / defeated
  • Predicate adjectives (adjectives used to describe the subject of a sentence) form the comparative with more and most: afraid / mute / certain / alone / silent
    Ex. She is afraid / He is more afraid / They are the most afraid of them all

Following these guidelines should help stop abominations like more pretty or beautifuler from making their way into your writing!

And, as always, if in doubt, look up the preferred inflected forms in the dictionary, I find the Oxford English Dictionary Online to be a wonderful resource.

Happy writing!


Author Advice, Editing Assistance, Grammar Assistant, Punctuation

#Punctuation how to use #dashes and #ellipses in your writing #AmWriting #AmEditing #Authors #Writers #Writing

In today’s article I’m going to look at the use of ellipses […] and dashes [-/–/—] in fiction writing.


An ellipsis is a glyph made up of three full points … which is used to indicate omitted words, pauses in speech, and unfinished thoughts. If you type three full points, most word processing programmes will autocorrect them to a single glyph.

When used in sentences, the ellipsis has a space on either side and no other punctuation is needed:

‘I tried I really tried.

‘I was under the impression didn’t you start that last week?’

When used to indicate unfinished thoughts, a space is only required in front of the ellipsis:

‘I could have sworn I

Or to build tension:

The door opened slowly

When a sentence should end with an exclamation or question mark, they are included at the end of the ellipsis:

‘Didn’t you just ask for one …?

She couldn’t even reach the top …!

A comma isn’t required before or after an ellipsis.

An ellipsis can also be used in place of etc. when the reader is expected to infer to rest of a sequence or list:

We needed lots of vegetables; potatoes, leeks, carrots, onions


There are three dashes in the punctuation world, the hyphen [-], the en dash [–], and the em dash [—].

The hyphen is typically used in compound words, numbers, prefixes, and suffixes:

The north-westerly wind was strong today.

My mother-in-law is a nightmare!

If the compound words precede the noun, they are hyphenated:

I have the up-to-date records.

But not if the noun appears first:

The records are up to date.

Nor if the first word of the compound is an adverb:

The newly married couple not the newly-married couple.

When spelling out numbers:

It was her twenty-first birthday.

Prefixes when there is a risk of collision of letters:

I needed to re-enter the room.

Her number is ex-directory.

Suffixes when the word already ends in double l:

She found a shell-like rock on the beach.

En rule/dash

Most British publishers use the en dash in place of the brackets () and a space is required on each side:

We were travelling – in the clapped out car – all night.

Em rule/dash

Most British publishers use the em dash to indicate interrupted dialogue:

‘I said I wanted to g—

‘I don’t care what you said!’ He interrupted.

I do hope these tips help you with your writing!

Have a great day x

Author Advice, Grammar Assistant, Punctuation

#Punctuation how to use colons and semicolons in your #fiction #writing #amwriting #amediting #authors #CreatingPerfection #authoradvice

In this article, I will talk about how to use the colon [:] and semicolon [;] correctly in your writing.

A semicolon is used to separate two or more strongly related main clauses that could stand as sentences in their own right.

It was spring; the trees were beginning to blossom.

It is not correct to join sentences like this with a comma. This is a common mistake known as a comma splice.

Semicolons are also used for balancing two pieces of information.

Wendy drives a BMW; Emma drives a Fiat.

They can also be used to join two clauses instead of a conjunction.

I love ice cream because it’s so cool on a hot day.

I love ice cream; it’s so cool on a hot day.

A semicolon should only be used if the sentences it divides make sense in their own right. ‘I love ice cream’ and ‘It’s so cool on a hot day’ can both stand as independent sentences.

If the second part of the sentence adds information but could not stand on its own, a colon should be used instead.

There’s only one flavour of ice cream worth eating: strawberry.

A semicolon can also be used to separate items in a list when phrases are used.

I need to buy some soup, tomato not chicken; milk, semi-skimmed not full fat; doughnuts, strawberry jam; and some bread.

If the list contains only short words, a comma will suffice.

I need soup, milk, doughnuts, and bread.


Are typically used to add information, so the second part explains the second part.

That was easy: the questions were all level two.

In this example though you could also use a full stop or a conjunction.

That was easy. The questions were all at level two.

That was easy because all the questions were all at level two.

Using a comma for the above would result in a comma splice which is wrong.

When using to introduce a list, only use a colon if the introduction makes sense on its own.

Please bring with you: a pencil, ruler, protractor, and eraser.

We also use colons to introduce quotes.

My mum had a favourite saying: ‘If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.’

As with the semicolon, only use the colon if the first part would stand as a sentence on its own. ‘My mum used to say’ doesn’t make sense on its own so a comma would be used.

My mum used to say, ‘If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.’

I hope this helps to clarify the use of each for you.

Have a wonderful day and keep writing!

Author Advice, Editing Assistance, Grammar Assistant, Manuscript, Publication Ready, Punctuation

#Punctuation #Apostrophe use in #fiction #writing #amwriting #amediting #CreatingPerfection

One of the most commonly misused punctuation marks is the apostrophe.

In this article I’ll be talking about, and sharing examples of, how to correctly use one.


In writing, we use ‘s to show possession after singular nouns and indefinite pronouns:

the girl’s hair the man’s beard anyone’s guess

For plural nouns ending in s, we just add the apostrophe:

the neighbours’ cat

And we punctuate time periods in the same way:

the days’ takings three weeks’ time

For compounds and of phrases, use ‘s after the last noun:

my mother-in-law’s cake the Queen of England’s swans

The double possessive making use of both of and ‘s can be used with nouns and pronouns:

a play of Shakespeare’s that car of her father’s

But not with buildings or companies:

a friend of the Smiling Mule the window of the hotel

This one’s a little tricky to remember but we don’t use an apostrophe for the possessive its (belonging to it) but we do for the it contractions (it is / it has):

the dog ate its bone it’s too warm today


The apostrophe is also used to indicate a missing letter or letters from a word. The apostrophe should ‘face’ the way the missing letters should be:

how you doin’ just you wait ’til


The apostrophe is NOT used for plurals. Nor is it used for the following:

Decades: 1960s / 60s

Names: keeping up with the Joneses / sixteen Hail Marys

Abbreviations: CDs / ABCs / DVDs

Other: dos and don’ts

These are just a few of the basics and if you learn these rules, you’ll be in a much better position to polish your own manuscript while going through your edits.

I follow the Oxford Style Guide and you can find more information in New Hart’s Rules.

Best of luck, have a great day, and keep writing!