Common Misused Words

Common Misused Words
by Janice Seagraves

We’ve all been guilty of this, and it does happen to the best of us. And poor old spell checker can only catch misspelled words, not wrong word choices. So here are some common wrong word usages to be aware of.

Than instead of then

Think instead of thing

Thing instead of think (I do this one a lot)

He instead of her (something I noticed in a free read)

Can instead of can’t (I do this one if I’m in a hurry)

Mail instead of male (I saw this one in a post just today)

Her instead of his

His instead of this (from a free read)

Pound instead of pond (my editor caught me on this one)

Noise instead of nose (I did this one once, but caught it during editing)

Dose instead of does (I don’t mean the plural of doe, but the singular to do)

There’s more of course. These are just off the top of my head.
Does anyone want to add to the list?

Deep Revisions

Deep Revisions in Four Steps
by Janice Seagraves
1. Read your manuscript like a reader. Print out, or load your manuscript into a reading device, and don’t forget to change the font. Don’t skip this part as it very important to the overall revision process. This exercise never fails to surprise me on how I don’t actually see the whole picture when I write my stories.
2. Take notes: As you read through your manuscript, keep a pad handy and take notes as you read. Something like in ch. 2 I have June with blue eyes and in ch. 5 I have her with green eyes. Keep it simple so your not pulled out of your read through.
3. Write what happens in each chapter:  Do this after your read though, not during. This is a hard exercise and it always takes me a while to complete it, but one I’ve found to be very valuable in deciding which scenes to cut and which to expand on. It also can help you when you submit your work later on, as some editors want a chapter by chapter break down of your manuscript.
4. Write out a character list with good and bad flaws/habits: This exercise can be very helpful and I’ve always enjoy it.  All your characters should have good and bad qualities to them. No one likes to read about a perfect character who never makes any mistakes. Flaws make your character more human, and your reader will sympathize with your characters too.

Editing your work

Normally, editors want your work to be as polished as you can make it, before they set eyes on it. 

That means: No typos. No grammar mistakes. Correct word usage. And they especially don’t want to see a first draft.

Then they find what you miss, but they can’t write the book for you. They just don’t have the time for that.

To get your work as polished as possible, I suggest a critique group, beta reader, or critique partner. 

Critique groups are great for finding: Grammar mistakes. Wrong word usage. And making suggestions on improving your work.

What they can’t do is see the bigger picture, because they get it one piece at a time. 

If you want someone to see the whole thing, then you need a beta reader or a critique partner. 

Beta readers: Read the entire MS and make suggest for the plot and such. They can also point out continuity errors. 

But they don’t fix grammar problems. 

Critique partners: You trade work. They will take a chapter of yours for a chapter of their’s to do a critique on. Some people prefer this approach to polishing their work.

For more help on what an editor does, check out these links:


There is no hard and fast rule to writing a book. However, you need to make your manuscript as professional as possible before you let an publisher see it. 

Another suggestion is to take classes online. There are even classes to help you work on your manuscript. 

Some free online classes:

Some of these you have to pay for: 

Mini Lesson: Possessions

Possessions can be tricky

By Janice Seagraves

From The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need: Before using an apostrophe, make sure that a phrase actually denotes possession and is not simple a plural. For instance, in the phrase the babies’ rattles, the babies in their cribs, the babies are not possessing anything so an apostrophe is not needed.

If a regular noun doesn’t end in –s, its possessive ends in –‘s. Say what? Take a look at this sentence.

->The cars engine was running.

The word car needs an apostrophe to indicate the possession, but where?

Use this mental trick to show where to place an apostrophe: Take the word that needs to apostrophe (cars) and the word that it’s talking about (engine) and mentally turn the two words around so that the word you’re wondering about is the object of the preposition such as of.

When you change cars engine around, you come up with engine of the car. Now look at the word car. Car is the singular and doesn’t end in –s. so the original should be punctuated—‘s. You should have:

->The car’s engine was still running.

Other examples:

Shannon’s book.

The lion’s main.

A book’s pages.

When you have plural nouns that end in –s (and most do) add an aprotrophe after the final –s.

Look at this sentence:

->The girls jackets were left in the coatroom.

Now just apply the trick. Take the phrase girls jackets and turned it around so that you have jackets of (belonging to) the girls.

When you turn the phrase around this time the word girls end in –s. this lets you know that you should add an apostrophe after the –s in girls, so the sentence ends this way:

->The girls’ jackets were left in the coatroom.

Other examples:

->Five musicians’ instruments

->Twenty-four years’ work

->Ten trees’ braches

Possessives in plural form don’t always end in –s. Let’s look at some of these. These plurals are children, women, men and deer. Add –‘s to these to make it a possessive.

->the children’s coats

->the men’s scores

->the Oxen’s yokes

Then there are the names that end with an –s. With these you add –’s to make it a possessive. Unless the pronunciation of them would lead to problems as in the case of Moses, Jones and Achilles.

Or in the case of my last name, Seagraves. Too many s’s.

So here you would add a ‘ after the s.

->Janice Seagraves’ book climbed to the top of the New York best sellers list.

Any questions?

Mini lesson: Contractions

Mini lesson:


by Janice Seagraves

Are you having problems with It’s, Its or Your, You’re well you not alone. A lot of people have problems with contractions.

Here’s a way to tell if you’re writing a word that is or isn’t a contraction, say it out loud. The one that I have the most problems with is your or you’re–So I say it out loud.

Example: Your going to the movies.

Say it out loud: You are going to the movies.

You are fits so you need you’re for this sentence.

Correct: You’re going to the movies.

If you can put you are in the sentence then you need you’re. If not then you need your, which is a possessive form.

Example: Here’s you’re coat.

Say it out loud: Here’s you are coat.

You are doesn’t fit.

However, in this sentence you need a possessive form, so you need your in this sentence.

Correct: Here’s your coat.

Another one I have problems with is It’s or Its.

Example: Its raining again.

Again say it out loud: It is raining again.

It is fits so I need a contraction in this sentence.

Correct: it’s raining again.

Its is a possessive of it, so if you talking about a thing belonging to another thing then you need a possessive.

The car has its own cover.

Say it out loud: The car has it is own cover.

It is doesn’t fit and you need a possessive here, so you need its.

Correct: The car has its own cover.