I thought long and hard about what to write for this topic – things we screw up all the time. It’s hard to admit you’re not perfect, especially when you’re still trying to snag an agent or an editor. But since we intended this blog site to be a place to share in our trials and tribulations — and maybe help a writer out here and there — I put on my big girl panties and dug down deep.
While there were many things I could’ve chosen, I wanted to pick something precise and tangible that can be easily fixed. It’s hard to tell someone how to slow down their pace or remove a plot thread (both of which I’ve been known to get comments from critique partners on – thanks JG). Depending on what you write, the answers to both of these may be different or infinite. So I wanted to pick something that applies to every single one of us…
Since most of us haven’t done grammar since grade school, let me refresh your memories. Homophones are words that sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different meanings. And there are A LOT of them. The title of this blog post has 14 words, and 6 of them are homophones. Because apparently, somewhere along the way, the developers of the English language ran out of creativity. Or perhaps they just wanted to trip us up, like they did with the whole who/whom debacle.
Most of us have the proper meanings sorted out in our heads and use them correctly without even thinking about it. But occasionally these little boogers can stomp even the best of us. And if you’re like me, even if you do know the correct word to use, sometimes your fingers just move faster than your brain can reach back to fifth grade grammar, and you simply mistype it. I’ll admit it…this happens to me A LOT.
So, I put together a little list of homophones that I’ve come across in critiquing, and that others have nailed me on when I’ve been critiqued.
Peak/Peek/Pique Pedal/Peddle By/Buy/Bye
Waist/Waste Bare/Bear Hire/Higher
Waive/Wave To/Too/Two Plane/Plain
Your/You’re Their/There/They’re Weak/Week
Vain/Vein Pray/Prey Peace/Piece
Hear/Here Presence/Presents Which/Witch
Affect/Effect Passed/Past It’s/Its
These are just a few. Do a web search for homophones and you can find PAGES of them. I thought about putting their proper meanings/uses beside each one of these, but I figure most of you know them already. Looking at them side by side, I can tell you the differences between all of them, but still I get little flags in my manuscript from time to time. Sometimes Word picks them up with a little squiggly green line, sometimes not. But take it from me, it can be rather embarrassing when your critique partner says…I’m pretty sure you mean, “He put his hand on her waist.”
Well, yeah! The other would be just gross!
What homophones trip you up? Let’s add to the list!