Fa-La-La-La-Huh? Confusing Christmas Carols

Christmas musicHere’s hoping that you like Christmas carols, ’cause at this time of year, you can’t escape them. Whether you’re driving to work, doing a bit of shopping, or just sitting in a waiting room somewhere, chances are good that you’ll hear those same old chestnuts, sometimes comforting in their familiarity, sometimes downright annoying (yes, little Michael Jackson, we believe that you saw Mommy kissing Santa, we do, so shut up already!). But if you actually listen to this seasonal soundtrack, you might start to wonder, “Just what is a spinet, anyway? What is wassail? And why does this song call the Virgin Mary fat?” The confusion tends to be caused by one of two things: pausing in the wrong places or archaic Christmas carol lyrics. Read more ›

Posted in Fun Stuff

Gift Ideas for Writers, Vol. 2: OWJ Holiday Gift Guide

Festive pile of books

Photo by Bibliotheek Kortrijk (Flickr)

It’s the time of year when everyone’s working hard on their holiday wish list, including us here at OWJ. A while back, we compiled a great list of gift ideas for writers, word nerds, and other bookish types. But there are so many more great products out there for bibliophiles now that we thought we’d put together another list of gift ideas for book-lovers and writers. If someone you love is a fan of the printed page, you can’t go wrong with any of these. Read more ›

Posted in Fun Stuff

Time to Give Thanks

Carving the turkey

Photo by jennie-o (Flickr)

The Online Writing Jobs office will be closed Thursday and Friday, Nov. 24 and 25, for the Thanksgiving holiday. Please submit all invoices for the week by 3 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, and they’ll be paid out on Wednesday. Thanks to all of our writers for your cooperation and for your hard work over the past year.

Posted in Holiday Updates

Swearing Off of the Expletive Construction

No-swearing sign

Photo by Ben Schumin (Wikimedia Commons)

Good writing follows two major rules:

  1. Use proper spelling and grammar so your work is comprehensible.
  2. Don’t bore the reader.

Most decent writers can follow the first rule almost intuitively. But oddly enough, the second rule seems to not even be on the radar for many people, and it’s critically important if you want to get your message across. Nobody wants to read fluffy, flabby writing: It obscures the point, drowning your message in worthless prattle. And one frequently used bit of grammatical fluffery, which shows up all too often in people’s writing, is known as the expletive construction. Read more ›

Posted in Writing Tips

On Bad Writing Advice (Even From Famous Authors)

Beware of advice — even this.I’ve been writing nearly every day since I was ten. I’ve heard all kinds of crazy advice on writing, from an assortment of fairly unimpressive to very authoritative sources. If you’ve gone to school, write as a hobby, or work in the field now, you probably have a similar story. You’ve possibly already experienced some really bad writing advice and maybe even taken it to heart.

There are some truly horrendous “rules of thumb” out there that I’ve heard over the years in reference to screenwriting, article-writing, or even poetry that range from originally good advice applied too liberally to flat-out lies that began with one reputable person’s odd prejudices. Here’s just a sampling of some of the worst. Read more ›

Posted in Writing Tips

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